Translation terms

Translation Terms

A short guide for translation buyers

A translation cookbook for those who are unaware of such subtleties and details. By “translation” we mean both the process and its result.

Key terms related to the work of linguists and translators are listed here with some useful links. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

The terms listed below are for general reference only. The list is being constantly updated with new terms and useful links. Feel free to add your ideas, remarks, terms or questions in the comments below or email me. The Russian version of the glossary can be found here.

Use Ctrl+F to search for specific terms.

ADAPTATION

Modifying the source text in order to produce the translation which conforms to the needs of a target language audience (pragmatic adaptation).

Marketing and media materials should be adapted if your purpose is to engage your audience and communicate your message.

Stylistic adaptation helps overcome cultural incompatibilities that stand in the way of communicating the meaning of the original. The translator takes into account stylistic preferences of the client, the target culture, and the tasks the translated text should fulfil.

See also Marketing translation.

AUTOMATED TRANSLATION

See Machine Translation.

BACK TRANSLATION

Translating a text that has already been translated into a foreign language back into the original language, preferably by an independent translator. Sometimes back translation can be used to observe conceptual and cultural correspondence and/or to compare original and translated texts (for example, in transcreation).

BRAND NAME EVALUATION

Analysis of brand names is used to assess a name or a tagline against social, sensory and/or legal criteria of a foreign market. Language and cultural differences may add an unexpected meaning to a well-intended name.

COMPETENCIES (of a translator)

A set of skills that makes it possible for a translator to achieve the most equivalent translation in relation to the original text.

ISO 17100:2015 defines the following professional competencies of translators:

– Translation competence. The ability to address the problems of language content comprehension and to render the target language content
– Linguistic and textual competence. The ability to understand the source and to apply this knowledge when producing translation
– Competence in research, information acquisition, and processing. The ability to efficiently acquire the additional linguistic and specialised knowledge
– Cultural competence. Ability to make use of information on the behavioural standards, up-to-date terminology, value systems, and locale for source and target language cultures
– Technical competence. The knowledge, abilities, and skills required to perform the technical tasks in the translation process
– Domain competence. The ability to understand content produced in the source language and to reproduce it in the target language using the appropriate style and terminology

COMPUTER-AIDED TRANSLATION

(Also computer-assisted translation, CAT) A form of translation in which a human translator uses computer software. (Not to be confused with automated machine translation.) CAT software is only a supplementary tool used to facilitate and support the translation process. CATs do not replace the translator but help them improve quality and efficiency by checking the consistency of terminology and style.

CAT software includes a comprehensive list of tools for:

– Spelling, grammar, formatting checks
– Terminology management
– Words and phrases lookup in databases and translation memory files
– Project management

See also Machine Translation, Translation Memory.

CHECKING (translation)

According to standard translation procedures, the person who translates checks the completed work for omissions, misprints, and errors (proofreads the text). The translator makes the necessary amendments to ensure that the meaning has been conveyed and service specifications are met. But even the best translator needs ‘the second pair of eyes’: an editor and/or a proofreader.

Numerous terms describing the checking process further complicate negotiation of the checking process between the translator and the translation buyer. Apparently, attention should be paid when discussing the checking and revision workflow.

The translation buyer should be clear about the final quality they expect and the services covered by the agreement: translation only (for further revision by in-house experts); translation and editing (the text ready for publication); translation, editing, and proofreading (the text ready for publication with final proofreading of the layout).

See also Editing, Proofreading, Post-Editing, Revision, Standards.

CONTENT CURATION (service)

The process of gathering and sorting information on the web relevant to a particular topic. The information is then arranged and translated if needed to present it in a meaningful way and publish online via corporate blogs, social media accounts, etc. Content curation services can be used both by businesses and end users.

COPYWRITING

Creating original written content for online or traditional printed media. Copies usually contain straightforward or hidden promotion and are used for persuasion in advertising as well as for raising brand awareness in marketing. Not to be confused with the copyright symbol ©.

CORPUS (parallel)

An informational system for context search containing a collection of original electronic texts in two languages. Parallel corpora help to find the translation of words or phrases from Russian or into Russian (although no one guarantees you the accuracy). Some of the popular corpora:

– Linguee: linguee.ru
– Opus: opus.lingfil.uu.se
– Reverso: context.reverso.net
– Glosbe: glosbe.com
– MyMemory: mymemory.translated.net
– TAUS Data Cloud: data-app.taus.net

DESKTOP PUBLISHING (DTP, typesetting)

Creation of page layout from elements: translated and formatted text, headlines, tables, and images. Depending on the original document, DTP is usually carried out in page layout software such as Adobe InDesign or in other packages such as MS Word or PowerPoint. Translated text can expand by as much as 30%, so it is better to let the translator what final document is expected (exactly same layout, possibility to add pages, etc.)

EDITING

Revising and refining the translated text to make it match current language norms and rules as well as to ensure that it is suitable for the purpose.

The editor checks the accuracy and completeness of the translation, spelling, grammar, punctuation, terminology, register, style, and formatting.

Editing services in the source or target language not related with a translation include linguistic editing and specialist editing for technical or scientific texts.

See also Checking translation, Revision.

GLOSSARY (creation)

A list of specialised industry terms with definitions or explanations created for a customer or a project.

Glossaries can be used by both in-house and freelance translators to ensure terminology is used correctly and consistently.

INTERPRETATION

(Also interpreting, 1nt) Facilitating of oral communication between users of different languages.

The interpreter converts oral speech in a source language into oral speech in a target language either simultaneously, listening to the speaker and interpreting in real time, or consecutively when the speaker pauses after completing one or two sentences.

LITERAL TRANSLATION

(Also word-for-word translation). A translation that follows the form and the structure of the original text written in the source language.

As a result, the relationship between component parts of a sentence is lost, and the original meaning may become unintelligible.

LITERARY TRANSLATION

Translation of literary works: poetry, plays, novels, short stories, lyrics, etc.

Characteristics of the genre: an artistic image dominates in the text (means of emotional impact are primary, while information is secondary); stylistic nuances depend on who created the original piece, where and when. The purpose of literary translation is to decode and recreate artistic images and style being as equivalent as possible.

LOCALISATION

(Also L10n) Adaptation of a product, software, or document to language, culture and other demanding realities of a target market (locale).

Often: translation of UI, user guides, and additional software files from one language to another. In this case, localisation is a multi-level process requiring the collaboration of programmers, designers, and translators.

MACHINE TRANSLATION

(Also MT) Also automated translation. Translation of a text by specialised software, with no human involvement. MT systems provide different results for various languages performing sometimes better and sometimes worse.

Machine translation may be acceptable for certain tasks provided that creators of original texts stick to ‘primitivisation’ rules. Examples of MT applications include repeated sentences with a primitive structure, large volumes of not-so-important web content (user generated), etc.

See also Post editing.

MARKETING TRANSLATION (service)

Translation of promotional and advertising content: case studies, blog posts, brochures and media publications, newsletters, promo campaigns, etc. Marketing efforts are based on engagement and conveying the message. Obviously, the marketing translation should sound natural and persuasive, with the focus on the target audience and their current trends.

See also Adaptation, Transcreation.

NATIVE SPEAKER

A person who speaks a particular language as their mother tongue.

The native speaker:

  • Learned the language in their childhood
  • Is able to produce fluent, spontaneous discourse
  • Identifies with or is identified by a language community
  • Speaks without a foreign accent

ORIGINAL

A source text that is to be translated into another language.

POST-EDITING

Examination and correction of a machine-generated translation to achieve an acceptable result and ensure that it complies with the laws of grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.

PROOFREADING (translation)

(1) The final pre-publication revision of a text after it was translated and edited. Or (2) checking of proofs before publishing (EN 15308).

Proofreading involves only one text in the target language and is meant to:

  • Eliminate grammar, spelling, syntax and punctuation mistakes and typos
  • Ensure style, terminology, formatting consistency
  • Ensure proper formatting and compliance with publishing standards.

See also Checking translation, Revision.

PURCHASE ORDER (for translation)

A buyer-generated document that authorises a purchase transaction. A purchase order sets forth the descriptions, prices, payment terms, delivery dates, other associated terms and conditions, and identifies a specific service provider. If no prior contract exists, then it is the acceptance of the order by the service provider that forms a contract between the buyer and the service provider.

When preparing a purchase order for translation services, make sure the following options were discussed and agreed:

– Translation aim and purpose: subject area and the type of a text, target audience
– Translation requirements: source text volume (number of words / symbols / standard pages), target language including regional variation, delivery format
– Process steps included: translation, editing or revision, proofreading or all the mentioned options for publication ready quality
– Payment details including payment method and terms

Some optional elements of a translation purchase order can be found in the Template.

REFERENCE MATERIALS

Materials covering the subject area in question, both in source and target languages: glossaries, style guides, term bases, previous versions of source documents or similar translated documents (including translation memory files), website links.

More often than not, companies choose different terminology for their technical documents and for marketing and reference materials. If the translator is aware of such subtleties, it makes life a lot easier both for the translator and for the reviser/reviewer.

REVISION

1) Self-checking: the translator’s own review processes following the draft translation (e.g. proofreading, spellchecking, terminology verification, finding inaccuracies and inconsistencies).

2) According to EN 15308:

  • Examining a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose
  • Comparing the source and target texts
  • Recommending corrective measures

EN 15308 introduced two terms: reviser and reviewer. The reviser, who works with two languages, examines a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose, compares the source and target texts, and recommends corrective measures (or corrects the errors).

The reviewer, who has domain competence, carries out a monolingual review to assess the suitability of the final translation for the agreed purpose.

A whole bunch of tasks can be implied when referring to revision or reviewing depending on a real-life workflow, though, from assessing translation quality to correcting grammatical and stylistic errors.

See also Checking translation.

STANDARD PAGE

One standard page corresponds to approx. 1650 characters with spaces (30 lines x 55 characters) or approx. 210 words (30 x 7).

STANDARDS (in the translation industry)

Reference documents describing criteria, methods, processes, practices, and terms related to translation and translation services.

  • In May 2015, ISO 17000:2015 International Standard (Translation services – Requirements for translation services) was published. In fact, it replaced the European EN 15038 translation-services standard, which went into effect on August 1, 2006, and had no further updates.
  • ISO 12616:2002. Translation-oriented terminography
  • ISO 2384 2384:1977. Documentation – Presentation of translations
  • Programmes and plans for ISO standards covering translation, interpreting and related technology.
  • A complete list of international standards that can be considered applicable to the language industry at large is maintained by GALA.

A list of Russian standards, norms, and reference documents applicable to translation can be found in a publication by the Translation Union of Russia (in Russian).

STYLE GUIDE

A list of defined requirements that reflects the expectations and preferences of a translation customer. A style guide may include recommendations on term usage, preferable style and tone, non-translated words and phrases, etc. More on style guides here.

SUMMARY TRANSLATION

A concise and accurate translation of the text containing the essential content, main facts and figures, from 30% to 50% of the original text size.

An ideal variant for content curation and/or for situations where the turnaround time is very short. You can use summaries of newspaper articles, press releases, and other published materials for corporate blogs and news feeds.

TECHNICAL TRANSLATION (service)

Translation of texts which relate to scientific and technological areas: white papers, patents, technical guides, etc. Characteristics of the genre: information as the main aspect of the text (means of emotional impact are almost absent); the vocabulary with numerous terms, general scientific and technical phrases; highly formalised syntax.

Examples of technical translation fields include medicine, legal, banking and finance, IT, etc.

TRANSLATION TEST

One of the tools used to evaluate the translator’s skills. Depending on the agreement between the contractor and the translator, a test translation can be paid or free. In most cases, tests should not be longer than a few hundred words (100–300 words).

TRANSCREATION

(translation + creation) Creative adaptation of an original message, mainly for advertising and marketing materials—mass media publications, promo campaigns and advertising.

Transcreation is meant to recreate a text/message for a given target audience, while attempting to engage the audience in the same way the original text does. Transcreators successfully combine translation and copywriting skills.

TRANSCRIPTION (service)

Converting speech into a written or electronic text document.

Transcription can be combined with translation (after the text was transcribed or in real time).

TRANSLATION

(Also xl8) Conveying meaning or meanings of a text from one language to another as accurately and fully as possible.

For some useful facts about the translation for translation buyers, feel free to study a guide created by American Translators Association.

TRANSLATION MEMORY

(Also TM) A database file that stores previously made translations as segments, which can be sentences, paragraphs or sentence-like units.

TRANSLATION RATES

Prices for translation depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Source volume
  • Difficulty of the text
  • Formatting and file types (a PowerPoint presentation, a scanned PDF file, etc)
  • Delivery date
  • Special/additional requirements if any

URGENT TRANSLATION

A project that is meant to be done mainly during a weekend or requires the translation of more than 2000 words per day.

VOLUME (of translation)

One of the key factors defining the price tag for a translation project and turnaround time.

Translation is usually charged per word of source or target text, per line (25 lines per page) or per standard page (250 words). The standard page in Russia corresponds to 1,800 characters with spaces.

Microsoft Word automatically counts the number of words in your document and displays them on the status bar. If you don’t see the word count in the status bar, right-click the status bar and click Word Count. However, this option does not always provide 100% accurate result.

To get the accurate statistics for documents including non-Word formats, try FineCount (free version available) or request a project statistics report from the translator’s CAT tool.

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