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Translation Terminologies: A Quick Guide for Translation Buyers

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Back when you were a student how many of you bothered to read the end pages of a textbook? It is debatable, many of you did glance at the last three pages of your textbooks while you were bored out of your mind. Still, you skip through those pages thinking it’s just words and that’s all.

Well, that’s not all. The last pages in a book usually are glossary or index pages. These pages represent information like words and their meanings, references, paragraph spacing, and so on. Translation terminologies are exactly the same but of course much advanced than a simple textbook.

Sometimes you visit a website and still unable to understand what the author is babbling about, so you google the word. The problem is Google lists thousands of results and it confuses you even further and you fail to understand which one is the right answer.

The translation is language-oriented but it is also industry-specific. Each industry comes with its set of terminologies and information, hence the reason why you need a subject matter expert. They understand the complexities of the specific niche and can translate the content accordingly.

If you are a bilingual looking to learn about translating content, you need to be aware of essential translation terminologies.

1: Languages: In translation, two languages are involved, the source language and target language.  so we can simplify it into two categories;

  • A Language – the mother tongue of the translator
  • B Language – the second language the translator can write and speak.

2: Copy-writing: Translation of an advertising copy due to cultural context or it can be re-adapted into a simplified version.

3: I1BN: The abbreviation stands for internationalization or internationalization (in American English). Because of the differences of one character, this abbreviation works both ways. “I” stand for the character while “18” stands for the number of characters and “N” stands for the last one.

4: Interpretation: Usually it is the oral translation of the context. The interpreter translates the information verbally and is a preferred means of verbal communication.

5: L10N: Looks like a lion right? Unfortunately, it is not the animal lion instead it is another abbreviation for localization or localization with one character difference so that it is suitable in both languages. L stands for first character 10 stands for the number of characters, and N stands for the last one.

6: Language pair: It is the combination of the source language and target language translated by a translator or an interpreter.

7: Literal translation: Translation that comprehends the grammar and construction of the source text is a literal translation. It may appear stilted or unnatural.

8: Localization: The adaptation of website, software, documentation, and games according to the culture is localization. When content has to be adjusted as per terms to local market localization is the most effective strategy.

9: Machine Translation: Translation that takes place with the help of automated software or computer program without human aid is a machine translation. The quality of machine translation varies according to various factors like meaning and grammar etc. however, it is not suitable for lengthy projects and needs extensive editing if the content is culture-oriented.

10: Proofreading: Re-reading the translated content to fix errors (grammatical or otherwise). It is to ensure there are no mistakes in the text and promotes consistency. Now, mostly it is used for synonym revising purposes.

11: SEO: The process to optimize a website or a mobile app or any other form of content on the search engine is known as Search Engine Optimization. It’s an effective strategy to rank the content and to focus on the visitor’s inflow. SEO is conducted from keywords used in the title, articles, middle bod, and in the end, etc which highlights the use of keywords.

12: SL: The abbreviation stands for Source language. a language that the translator later converts the content from.

13: Source Culture: The culture according to which the document will be translated is the source culture.

14: TC: Known as target culture, it means one tries to promote the context according to the target language. The use of cultural references is according to the target language.

15: TMX: Abbreviation stands for Translation Memory exchange. It is commonly used for the work purpose between colleagues and associates.

16: Transcreation: It is a creative translation from the source language to the target language. it is different than a regular translation and focuses on the desired persuasion to have an emotional effect on the consumer.

17: Transcription: When verbal content/information is written in a translated form, it is known as transcription.

18: Audio dubbing: Translation of audio material (like voice-overs) and translating the information in the target language is audio dubbing.

19: Back translation: This type of translation is used to maintain quality control in the target language and content is translated back into the source language by a third party to ensure the accuracy of the original context.

20: Bidirectional: Languages that are written and read from right to left side while numbers are read from left to right are bidirectional languages such as Arabic, Urdu, and Punjabi, etc.

21: DNT: a certain word or phrase that should not be translated into a target language stands for Do Not Translate.

22: False-friends: a word with multiple languages that sound similar but have different meanings. Like the Italian word “pretendere” sounds similar to the English word “pretend” which literally means “Expect to” in Italian.

23: CAT: stands for computer-assisted translation tools which increase the efficiency of translation. It commonly includes propagating duplicate texts, translation memory tools, glossaries, and so on.

24: DTP: stands for Desktop Publishing consists of four elements in its layout like text, headlines, tables, and images. Usually takes place for a website or mobile app.

25: Volume: the volume of the translation project defines the cost and turnaround time. It is usually charged on a per word basis while the content is acceptable in Microsoft word (encasing a number of words automatically).

Translation practice varies from company to company. To get involved in the translation process as a translator or a client, you need to understand the translation terminologies so that you are not blindsided.