Translation Glossary of Terms

Translation Glossary of Terms


Process of converting information into an appropriate format for the target language and culture.


An alignment involves matching segments of an original text with their corresponding translations to create a translation memory. The alignment process is made easier with the use of certain CAT technologies, but still often requires the manual effort of the project manager. An alignment saves the translated text into a translation memory, allowing the client to use previous translations in future texts, saving money and ensuring consistency.


Situation in which the intended meaning of a phrase is unclear and must be verified – usually with the source text author – in order for translation to proceed.

Certified translation

A certified translation contains a clause stating that the translation was done by an independent party to the subject matter of the document. The document is then notarized. An individual can never certify a translation done for his or her own materials. Translators will also say that they are certified by certain organizations such as the American Translator’s Association. There is no official industry certification.

Computer Aided Translation (CAT) Tool

Software that supports and facilitates the translation process is known as Computer Aided Translation tools, or CAT tools. Human translators use these tools to manage and select terminology, apply translation memory, and check spelling and grammar. Some leading CAT tools in the industry include SDLTrados, WordFast, and Déjà Vu.

Consecutive Interpreting

Consecutive interpreting is a form of face-to-face interpreting. During consecutive interpreting, the speaker pauses every one to five minutes and the interpreter then renders what was said into the target language. For this reason, consecutive interpreting lengthens the duration of an assignment. Consecutive interpreting is generally used for meetings, presentations and training courses.

Gist Translation

Machine translation and free translation services offer gist translation to give the user an idea of what the text is about. Gist translation can save money for large documents but should not be depended on for actual meaning. Human translation is still the only way to get an accurate translation for the intended meaning.


This is the preparation of a product or material to be used globally. All materials to do with the product can then be adapted for local markets (see localization).

 Human Translator

Translators who are native speakers who translate the text from the source language to the target language. Expect greater accuracy from a human translation (100%) as opposed to a machine translation (70%).


This is another word for globalization.


The conversion of the spoken word from one language to another

Interpreting, simultaneous

The conversion of the spoken word from one language to another while the speaker is speaking.

Interpreting, consecutive

The conversion of the spoken word from one language to another by an interpreter as the speaker pauses for the interpretation.

Interpreting, conference

The conversion of the spoken word from one language to one or many other languages while the speaker is speaking.

Language Pair

The term used to define the source language and the target language. For example, for text that is being converted from Spanish to English, the language pair would be Spanish-English or sp-en.


The process of adapting the language, cultural, and technical content into readily acceptable usage for distinct markets.

Machine Aided Translation

Tools to help the human translators work accurately and quickly. Most are terminology databases and translation memories. Examples include Trados, DejaVu, Wordfast, Transit, and SDLX.

Machine Translation

The translation of text from one language to another by computer without human intervention. This process depends the computer’s capacity to analyze the structure of a statement and translate the elements into the same structure in another language. Market analysts predict that this percentage will not change radically by 2013 and that it will remain only about 1% of an over US $35 billion translation marketplace. Good for providing “gist translation”.

Marketing Writing and Editing

Marketing writing is the process of creating documents of a promotional nature, such as web sites, advertisements, newsletters and press releases. To achieve the best quality, marketing documents should be written into foreign languages from scratch- not translated. However, if an existing marketing document does require translation, a marketing writer can edit the document prior to translation to make it more culturally specific to the target market.

Meaning-for-meaning translation

Translation for which the words used in both languages may not be exact equivalents, but the meaning is the same.


One of the ten most important languages on the web, including Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Native Speaker – (mother tongue)

A native speaker is a person who has spoken the language from about the age of 5 and has a “normal” accent for the region. The person is most familiar with in regards to language, dialects, culture and customs.

Professional Human Translation

The transformation of the written word from one language to another by a person experienced in translating from the source language to a native target language. Usually, the translator has familiarity with the subject matter.  Sign up as a professional translator.


In translation, proofreading involves checking a translated document for many different things. For example, at Translatus, our proofreaders are translators who review another translator’s work to primarily check for correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. Our proofreaders also revise terminology, apply formatting, or improve the general flow of a document.

Quality Translation

Translation done by a professional human translator. To maintain quality for important documents, you want to have an experienced translator. In-house personnel may not have the experience or specific localization knowledge to deliver the quality you need.

Reference Material

Providing reference material to your language services provider will help them to choose the best terminology and adhere to your preferred writing styles. Excellent examples of support material include previous translations, web sites, screenshots, pictures, graphs, company glossaries or dictionaries and style guides.


SDLTrados is the leading Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tool on the market.

Simultaneous Interpreting

The interpreter speaks while simultaneously listening to and comprehending the next sentence. This interpretation is usually relayed over headphones at large conferences, media launches and live TV broadcasts, or whispered in smaller surroundings such as courtrooms.

Source Language

The original language of a document, web page or email before it is translated.

Target Language

The language into which the material is to be translated.

Technical Writing and Editing

Technical writing is the process of creating documents of a technical nature, such as design specs, user manuals and white papers. To achieve the best quality, technical documents should be written into foreign languages from scratch- not translated. However, if an existing technical document does require translation, a technical writer can edit the document prior to translation to make it easier to read and more culturally specific to the target market.

Telephone Interpreting

This kind of interpreting has increasingly been used as a cost-effective way of interpreting, where a face-to-face meeting is not essential or possible. It is the ideal solution when geographically dispersed people need to talk but do not share a common language.

Terminology Extraction

A company’s terminology is a valuable asset. Terminology Extraction can help effectively manage this asset by supporting a company’s brand image, ensuring consistent use of terminology across business functions and cutting translation costs. Terminology extraction involves extracting key phrases or terms from a body of text for compilation into a database or text. This process is highly specialized and labor intensive work, requiring expertise in both the language pair and subject matter at hand.


The transformation of the written word from one language to another.

Translation Agency

A translation agency is a company that provides translation and (sometimes) interpreting services.

Translation Direct Access

Translation Direct Access (TDA) is Translatus’ own proprietary translation management software. It is a unique, company-to-client interactive web-based management system that provides secure access for all Translatus customers. TDA enables our clients to upload source and support files for new translation jobs, track the status of jobs in progress, communicate directly with the project manager, download the final translated documents, and archive past translation jobs.

Translation Glossaries

Databases of terms collected on translation projects used for reference in future projects of a similar nature.

Translation Memory Software

Software that automates the storage of matching source and target language segments for future use.

Translation portal

Web-based service that enables translation agencies, freelance translators and customers to contact one another and exchange services. An example is

Web site translation

This is the translation of web pages for use in other languages. 85% of web sites are in English yet 50% of web users are native speakers of another language.


Whispering is a method of simultaneous interpreting where the interpreter sits close to a participant and whispers the interpretation into his or her ear. This method of interpreting is well-suited for small, intimate meetings for a small number of attendees and requires no equipment. Whispering is sometimes called by its French name of “chuchotage”.

Word Count

A word count states the number of words in a document and is often used to determine job pricing.

Word counts vary across different technologies, meaning your provider’s word count might differ from your own. The word count tool in MSWord is easy to use and can be fairly accurate if the document contains straight text with few or no text boxes. Complex documents require a more sophisticated analysis tool (such as Trados or Wordfast) to produce accurate word counts.

freelance services