Translation Unit is an abstract concept used to distinguish the translation process as dealt with by the translation manager from the concrete translation job as perceived by the translator.
A translation unit is basically something that the translation manager deems ready for publication or not. It will most often be a series of works by several translators, like a group of pages... But it can also be smaller than a particular work of one translator, for instance just one word for a precise menu link in a translation job containing many menu lines to translate. It can also correspond exactly to one translator's job, like a self-sufficient wiki page.
When you run a multilingual site, it often occurrs that all translations are not ready at the same time. On many sites it will be considered unaesthetic or impractical to publish - for instance a structure - that is only partially translated and therefore much less good than the original. Or you can also estimate that it makes no sense at all publishing this particular thing that is not complete, and when you perceive this particular thing as non-sensical if translated only partially, that is precisely when you can call it a translation unit.
The most obvious example of non-sensical translation is a partially translated single wiki page, if missing sentences make the text irrelevant, like:
- Source language: "I was a ski instructor. Now I teach Judo to children."
- Target language: "I was a ski instructor."
But for many reasons, including diplomatic reasons between national groups, it is whole groups of translations that you can prevent from publication until they are not complete. Therefore one particular option would be to specify that the translation unit contains ALL languages, which in this case means that no target language will be published unless all target languages are ready.
It is important to keep translation unit as an abstract concept, not to call it a translation batch for instance, because it should be applicable not only to texts but to all kind of objects, including structures, modules, directories, faqs... Thus translation units could apply not only to content translation, but container translation as well. Obviously the two can be closely linked, like translating a content wiki structure and its module menu.
Please feel free to improve this page.