Translation Services Glossary

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Translation Services Glossary



Alignment: The process of defining translation correspondences between the original, or source text, and the target text. The process allows text to be converted into a translation memory that then can be used in future translations, improving consistency and providing added cost savings.



Attribute: A defined property that is applied to a Translation Memory segment to assist sequence retrieval.

Automatic Translation: A translation process that is machine-based and does not receive inputs from a human translator.


Back Translation: The process of translating a previously translated document back into its original source language.


Bidirectional: Text that is typically read from right to left but contains exceptions to this rule, having some characters or numerals that are read from left to right. Bidirectional languages include Arabic and Hebrew.


CAT tools (Computer-Aided Translation tools): Also referred to as Computer-Assisted Translation tools, this can describe software that facilitates the translation, or the process that a person uses certain computer software to support the translation process.


Concatenation: A procedure that links multiple files into a single document. It is often to facilitate or ease certain text processes, including search and replacement and repetition rate establishment.

Cultural Adaptation: The process of adjusting a translation to tailor it to a target culture.

Culturally-sensitive Translation: A translated text that takes cultural differences into account.


DNT: An abbreviation meaning “Do not translate.” It often includes a list of words or phrases that may be trademarks or brand names.


DTD: An abbreviation meaning “Document Type Definition.” It is a description of how the content of a document should be structured, to provide a set of rules for tags and characteristics, enabling programs to process and store documents more easily.


Encoding Scheme: A system that assigns each character with a numeric value, converting a set of characters to an automated form to easily maintain and transmit information.


Exact Match: During Translation Memory analysis, an exact match, also referred to as 100-percent match, is one that yields a direct character for character match, in part or in whole, between the stored and current sources. Exact matches are a source of cost savings, as the whole sentence has previously been translated and requires just a simple verification by the translator. See also Fuzzy Match.


Functional Testing: The process of reviewing software applications to be certain that localization does not change or hinder how the content is displayed on-screen or any of the software’s major functionality.


Fuzzy Match: During Translation Memory analysis, a fuzzy match is one that yields a match of between 85 to 99 percent. As the match is very close, fuzzy matches are also a source of cost savings as the translator only needs to verify or make slight modifications to the translation.


In Context Exact Match: Also called a Guaranteed Match, an In Context Match, or an ICE Match, is a match that is exact and in exactly the same context, or the same location in a paragraph of a text. The context is defined by surrounding sentences and by attributes, including the file name of the document or date of the file.


In-Country Review: The inspection of a translated text by a resident of the country where the target text will be employed.

Interpreting: The process of oral translation from one language to another.


Language: A system of communication that can be either spoken, written or signed.


Language codes and tags: A language code or tag is part of the localization process that identifies locales involved in the translation of a particular product. A number of language tag codification systems exist and are frequently used. The International Organization for Standardization, the ISO, uses a system of two- or three- letter codes to represent languages.

Language Combination: The group of languages used by an interpreter or translator specialized in each of the involved languages. It can also be referred to as a language pair when it involves two languages that the translator commonly works between.

Language Services Provider: A company or organization that provides a range of language services, often including translating, interpreting, consulting and localization services.

Literal Translation: A translation of an original source that follows the order, phrasing and sentence structure very closely. Literal translations can lose significance and meaning for target audiences.

Loanword: A word taken from one language and used without translation in another language.

Localization: Often abbreviated as L10N (the beginning L in localization, followed by the next 10 letters and ending in N), it is the process of adapting software and content to a specific market, culture or location. Localization assists professionals as it is a comprehensive study of the target culture, involving many additional factors aside from language so that a product will be better adapted to the local needs of a given market.


Markup Language: An artificial language of annotations used to show how a text must be formatted.


Matches: See entries for “Exact Match” and “Fuzzy Match.”

Meaning-for-Meaning Translation: The translation of the words used in the translated languages are not literal equals, but provide the same meaning.

Mother Tongue: A person’s native or first-learned language.

Multi-language Vendor: Abbreviated as MLV, it is a language service provider that provides services in a number of different language pairs or combinations.

Multilingual Workflow: It is the automated process that helps to develop multilingual products and manage content in a number of languages. It usually involves a translation management system, translation memory and machine translation.

MultiTerm: The name of SDL Trados’ terminology tool used with the latest versions of the software.


Plain English: A simple method that uses a clear style to help improve the readability of a text. It emphasizes using the active, rather than the passive voice, and ensuring the use of words with only one meaning.


Post-editing: The process where a human reviews and edits a machine translation output for quality control.

PPW: An abbreviation that stands for price per word, a factor that contributes to the cost of a job or project.

Pre-editing: The process where, before translation, a text is edited with an emphasis on clarifying ambiguous terms and making it easier to translate.

Proofreading: The practice of reviewing a translated text to find errors in grammar, punctuation, syntax and spelling. Proofreaders may also check for coherency and improve the overall flow of a document.


Quality Control: Often referred to as QC, it is a process to help ensure the quality of translation and involves the review of the target text to check for errors.


Quality Improvement: Often referred to as QI, it is a process to help ensure the quality of translations, offering suggestions to increase overall performance.


RBMT: An abbreviation that stands for “Rules-Based Machine Translation.”


Repetition: Sentences or phrases that are recurrent throughout a document, found during Translation Memory analysis. Repetitions are often discounted similarly to exact matches, as they require minimal translation.

Return on Investment: Also referred to as ROI, it is a measure used to evaluate the performance of an investment.


Segmentation: Similar to text parsing, the purpose of segmentation is to select the most useful translation units, to enhance overall accuracy.


Simultaneous Interpreting: An interpreter speaks while simultaneously listening to and comprehending the following sentence. This form of interpretation is often relayed through headsets at large conferences or at live broadcasts.

Single Sourcing: A process of producing a document in a single format and then automatically translating or publishing the document into a number of different formats.

Source File: The file that contains the source text in its original form, rather than a generated file, and is a requirement for the localization process.

Source Language: The original language of a translation document, or the language that will be translated into the target language.

Source Text: The text that will be translated, or the starting input.

Standard Line: A measure of the typical number of keystrokes in a single line of a particular text. This standard varies by country and averages between 50 and 60 characters. It may be used to establish a project price on a line cost basis.

Style Guide: A document that outlines the desired grammar, punctuation, style, spelling and formatting of a particular client to ensure translation quality and consistency.


Target Audience: The group of people that will be the recipient of the information translated into the target language.


Target Language: The language that a translation document will be translated into, or the language that the source language will be translated to.

TEP: An acronym that stands for Translation, Edit, Proofread, which outlines the typical process of translation.

TM: Abbreviation for “Translation Memory.”

Trados: SDL Trados is a market leading CAT tool and Translation Memory Editor used in the industry. The latest versions are SDL Trados TM Server and the 2009 SDL Trados Studio.

Transcreation: The process that creates new content that has been adapted for an alternate target audience. It often includes transformations that are in addition to changes in language, including writing alternate copy or selecting different images.

Transcription: The process of converting oral speech or dialogue into a written document.

Translation: The process of taking a text in an original language and creating an equivalent text in a target foreign language.

Translation Agency: A company that provides translation, and often interpretation, services.

Translation Memory: (abbreviated as TM) A glossary of pre-approved terminology and their corresponding translations as defined by a particular company. All documents are scanned against a company’s TM, and the system highlights matches and repetitions in the source text that correspond to the TM. Additionally, the TM system stores phrases and paragraphs that have already been translated, and stores the text in translation units.

The TM consists of segments of text in both the source language and corresponding translations into various target languages. The TM stores this information for the purpose of reusing previously translated text to provide cost savings on future projects.

Translation Memory System: A computer-assisted translation tool that offers suggestions from the translation memory.

Translation Unit: A segment of text that is treated as a single unit of meaning to increase the accuracy of the translation.


Updated Translation Memory: Translation Memory is updated when a new translation has been accepted by a translator and makes modifications to the existing database by changing or deleting existing entries.



Word Count: A number that defines the number of words in a document that often factors into the price of a particular job. Word counts may vary across platforms.

Word Delimiter: A character that marks a division between the words of a text.

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