Technical glossary of translation terms
Occasionally, you’ll come across some unfamiliar terms on the intercontact website or when talking to people in the localisation and translation industry. You’ll find many of these terms listed here with short explanations.
In the translation sector, the term adaptation refers to creative changes to a piece of text to meet the requirements of a local target market. A translation contains the most important information of the source text. An adaptation, however, is further tailored to the respective country or region in terms of style, tonality and creative expression. Adaptations are often found in the marketing sector, whereas an adaptation would not be appropriate for legal documents, for example.
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Adaptive MT is a self-learning machine translation engine, currently available from translation software experts Lilt and SDL, which adapts to the user's writing style and learns from the translator in real time. Words, sentences, context, style and terminology are adopted and applied to future translations. AdaptiveMT, the name of the software offered by SDL, is available for a number of language pairs and is particularly useful for translations from English.
The ALT attribute is written copy that describes images and graphics found on a website. If an image is not displayed/not displayed correctly (e.g. due to outdated browsers or activated tracking protection), the short description stored in the ALT text is displayed as an alternative (hence the "ALT"). Programs for people with visual impairments also use this alternative. ALT attributes are important for the search engine optimisation, because search engine crawlers and bots can read the image content. A good ALT attribute includes a short description of the image and a keyword.
Every document to be translated is analysed in order to calculate the word count, or number of words, and establish the match rate. To do this, the text is imported into a translation program and automatically cross-checked with the existing translation memory. This process analyses whether words, sentences or entire text passages have been translated before (these are "matches") and whether there are repetitions. The resulting analysis assigns all the words to the categories new words, repetitions and matches with percentages. Repetitions and matches generally cost less for the customer, as they require less manual intervention in the translation.
An API is an "Application Programming Interface" that creates a connection between computers or computer programs. It connects software and hardware components and unifies the transfer of data between different modules or programs during programming. APIs translate software into machine language, making it readable by different components. As data transmitters, APIs act as an exchange point between different websites and programs.
See also: REST API
A website's blog is an important tool for online marketing and can act as a company's voice. Blog posts (the articles that appear in the blog) can give the website's target groups access to important information. Blog posts can include expert tips and they help build customer loyalty.
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A CAT tool (computer-aided translation tool) is translation software for computer-aided translation, which automates certain steps of the translation process from one language to another. CAT tools help to increase translators’ speed and productivity. They also improve the quality of a translation by retrieving and reusing text segments that have already been translated, which saves time and ensures terms are translated consistently. In contrast to MT (see machine translation), CAT tools do not provide instantaneous translations, but support the human translator.
See also: Machine translation, Segment
Certification involves an authorised translator attesting to the accuracy and completeness of a technical translation from a source language into a target language. The translation is dated and documented with a stamp and the accredited translator’s signature to confirm that it is a true representation of the original text. In many countries, an authorised translator must be licensed and registered with a district court.
Offices and authorities require a certified translation for documents that are to be presented abroad. Documents requiring certification include contracts, T&Cs, statutes, charters, articles of incorporation or association, annual financial statements or extracts from the commercial register, which are required for international company mergers.
For further information, please visit the websites of the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Office of Administration in Cologne.
A confidentiality agreement is a binding contract signed by all parties involved in a translation or editing project. By signing it, each partner is obliged to protect any confidential information disclosed by one party to another through their collaboration. This covers both direct and indirect exchange, or as deﬁned in the agreement.
In the language world, this term refers to the topics or subject matter in a written work. It often refers to website content. The well-known quote "content is king" comes from the field of online marketing, and highlights the central role that high-quality content and text plays in the success of a website, search engine optimisation and successful marketing in general. Sustainable success is only possible if your content is useful, meaningful, carefully crafted and resonates with your target market. The term content distinguishes the content of a website from its technical infrastructure. Navigation, the imprint, layout and advertising are not website content.
See also: Content marketing
A content management system (CMS) is a software program for creating, editing and managing digital content, e.g. on a website. The software runs on a specialised computer, a web server. WordPress, Joomla, TYPO3 and Drupal are among the best-known open source CMS systems. With open source software, the source code is available to all, and anyone can use it, continue to develop functions and even create their own functionality. All without licence fees or dependency on a company. It is estimated that there are currently around 300 different content management systems on the market.
Content marketing is part of the modern marketing mix. It encompasses messaging, creative thought strategies and content production. Examples of content marketing include newsletters, blogs, white papers, social media posts, e-mails, educational articles, advertorials, e-books, videos, entertainment and webinars.
The content provided – mostly online – offers the target group added value and is intended to convince them about a company and its products or services. Within the framework of a content marketing strategy, a brand needs to define its goals, target groups, content formats and update frequencies.
Formats in content marketing include text, images, graphics or infographics, surveys, videos and podcasts.
Good content solves problems, provides answers and entertains the reader or audience. Content marketing is also called inbound marketing because the company is found by the customer. In contrast, with outbound marketing, companies try to find the customer (active advertising such as TV adverts, banners, billboards and telemarketing).
Copyediting is the first editing stage and happens before text goes to DTP and page layout. Although the terms “copyediting” and “proofreading” might seem to mean the same thing, they actually describe different steps in the editing process.
Copyeditors catch all the mistakes the author missed. Copyediting refers to making local changes to things like sentence structure and phrasing to make sure your meaning is conveyed clearly and succinctly. A copyeditor looks for and corrects these errors:
- Missing words
- Linguistic style
- Content issues
- Light fact checking (dates, names, specialist terminology etc.)
- Formatting and structure
See also: Proofreading, Text correction</p
Copywriting is another word for "marketing writing". It is defined as the act of writing text (copy) for advertising purposes or marketing materials. Copywriters compose creative text for websites, brochures, catalogues, blogs, newsletters, advertising, journals, taglines, slogans, product descriptions, white papers, social media and magazines. The word "copy" in advertising language refers to the text; a copywriter is an advertising copywriter.
See also: Copy
Corporate wording, also known as corporate language, refers to the terminology used in a company’s internal and external communication. It forms a part of the company’s identity and corporate design by communicating the company values, message and philosophy.
Defining a uniform, consistent language is important, as is the choice of words, tonality, writing culture and form of address. International corporate wording is supported, and further developed, by using comprehensive termbases (terminology databases). Corporate Wording®: patented as a word mark Hans-Peter Förster in 1994
See also: Termbase
Deep learning is a special method of information processing. Deep learning is a sub-area of machine learning and uses neural networks. Training methods that draw on and analyse large amounts of data are used to produce artificial intelligence. Based on existing information and the neural network, the system can repeatedly link what it has learned with new content and is constantly learning.
See also: Neural networks
Desktop publishing (abbreviation DTP, originally known as "publishing from the desktop") is the creation of documents using page layout software on a personal ("desktop") computer. This involves design, page layout, typography and typesetting in documents that contain text and images. Used for printed items, online content and all kinds of materials, it sometimes involves foreign language DTP.
See also: Foreign language DTP
The international quality standard, DIN ISO 17100, specifies the requirements for all aspects of the translation process that affect the quality and provision of translation services. Staff competencies, core processes, resources (e.g. CAT tools) and information security are defined and adhered to by certified translation agencies.
Achieving this certification means a company is highly committed to meeting client and industry requirements.
You can purchase the DIN ISO 17100 standard at the following link: https://www.beuth.de/de/norm/din-en-iso-17100/246682286
See also: CAT tool
Editor is a cloud-based editing program with an integrated translation memory for translation and review. The online tool includes the core functions of a modern desktop translation tool and offers a user-friendly interface.
The fashion term base is a terminology database from intercontact translations that only contains specialist terms from the field of fashion. It helps ensure the consistent use of individual terms. Fashion-specific terms, explanations and comments are stored in such a way that all translators have simultaneous access to the terms during a translation. This ensures that fashion terminology is used consistently and that customer requirements are implemented globally.
See also: Termbase
This is desktop publishing (DTP) for layouts that incorporate different languages. In foreign language DTP, country-specific characters, sentences and syllable separations are adapted. Each language has different word and letter lengths, which are taken into account along with special characters, accents and word separations. The layout is adapted to the individual languages accordingly.
See also: Desktop publishing
In a translation agency, a piece of text to be translated is read into a CAT tool. The text content is compared with the contents in the translation memory. The program searches for translation memory segments that share something in common with the segments already stored. If the new segment is exactly the same as the stored one, this is called a 100% match.
Any matches below 100% are called fuzzy matches. The cost of a translation varies depending on how much new material there is. Repetitions and matches generally cost less for the customer, as they require less manual intervention in the translation.
See also: CAT tool, Fuzzy matches, Matches, Segment, Translation memory
The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) of the European Union regulates the uniform handling of personal data. It stipulates regulations about the protection of personal data within the EU and, at the same time, issues guidance on the free movement of data.
In general, data protection is understood to mean protection against improper data processing in any form. Everyone has the right to decide for themselves what happens to their personal data.
A strategy for adding more language capabilities over time. Globalisation, or internationalisation, refers to a series of processes by which a company brings its business to the rest of the world. Globalisation is the practice of designing and adapting products, services, communication and internal operations to facilitate expansion into international markets.
SDL Trados GroupShare is a translation management solution that greatly facilitates collaboration on translation projects. Available as an on-premise solution or in the cloud, SDL Trados GroupShare works seamlessly with SDL Trados Studio to streamline workflows, reduce manual tasks and provide all translators with real-time access to projects, terminology and translation memories simultaneously.
See also: Terminology, Translation management system, Translation memory
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is a language for marking standard normal text to convert it into hypertext. It uses HTML tags to designate text as a title, section header or body of text, insert a line break, start a new paragraph or add links and images. These are a few basic examples of HTML tags.
See also: Title tag
The HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the standard communications protocol used to transfer data over the web. This includes text, images, sound, video, and other multimedia files. It is the foundation of any data exchange on the Web and links sites on the internet.
With the help of Wiki software, intercontact can store its internal company resources in one place. The transparency afforded by this digital repository enables every intercontact employee to access all the information they need, ranging from meeting protocols, guidelines and directives to general templates.
Although interpretation and translation are often thought of as similar, the work is actually very different. While a translator works with written material, an interpreter works with spoken language and in real time, "live" situations. An interpreter makes it possible for two or more parties to communicate when they don’t share a common language. Their job is to deliver the original messages from the source language into the target language as accurately as possible. Interpreters can work in person or remotely, conveying the speakers’ messages via video and audio feeds, or over the phone.
interTMS is the translation management system developed by intercontact that enables our customers to place, manage and track their orders and requests. Turnover and volume analyses enhance the level of transparency and automated jobs are mapped in interTMS via the REST API. Invoices can be viewed at any time and are available to download.
See also: Translation management system, interTMS, REST API
The most relevant keywords should not only be included in the national language of a website or online shop, but also in all the other languages that website offers. It is important to note here that simply translating these keywords directly does not always work. Often, the words need to be localised for them to be found in other countries.
Language service providers (LSPs) – also known as translation agencies – are companies that provide a range of translation and other language-related services to businesses and individuals. An LSP is an important part of the localisation process.
See also: Localisation
Localisation involves adapting and translating content (text, processes, product and service descriptions and communication, as well as software, books, films and websites) for a specific region. The content is changed so that it matches the language requirements, expectations and culture that are common to the target area.
Automatic or machine translation (MT) refers to the translation of text by a computer program. Direct machine translation is the oldest and simplest MT method: Here, the words of the source text are translated word by word, and then the sentence order and inflection are adapted according to the rules of the target language.
Then there is the transfer method, in which the program analyses the grammatical structures in the source text and then generates text in the target language based on the language’s rules.
Despite the hype surrounding machine translation, unedited results from an MT should only be used in well-founded, isolated cases. Ideally, the text should be reviewed by a (human) post-editor.
Post-editing (PE) is an Essential Part of Machine Translation (MT). Post-editing is when a human translator reviews, corrects and improves a machine-generated translation.
It’s an essential process because, while machine translations are fast, they’re usually lacking in quality, accuracy, conviction and style.
Learn more about: Post-editing
See also: Machine translation (MT)
When translating a piece of text, any earlier translations written for the same client are automatically suggested to a translator by the CAT tool. This ensures that a company’s specific terms are always used consistently. Even when different translators are involved. Plus, repetitions and matches generally cost less for the customer, as they require less manual intervention by the translator.
A 100% match is when exactly the same segment has already occurred in a previous text.
A context match is when a 100% match where the context (i.e. surrounding content) is also the same.
A fuzzy match is when segments don’t exactly match a previously translated segment. Fuzzy matches are automatically assigned a match rate, expressed as percentages, depending on the degree of similarity.
See also: Analysis, CAT tool, Fuzzy matches
Meta descriptions are short sentences that summarise the content of HTML documents for search engines. For this to work, they are stored in the upper area of an HTML document. In the browser search, the meta description is displayed together with the title tag. A good meta description has a positive effect on the search engine ranking and attracts users to the website.
See also: HTML, Search Engine Optimisation
Metadata is structured data that describes other data such as tables, columns, keys and indexes. It provides a means of indexing, accessing, assessing and discovering digital resources. Metadata uses comprehensive information in order to make it machine-readable and so it can be evaluated.
In the case of a book, for example, metadata is the name of the author, the publication date, the publisher and the ISBN. In the case of a technical drawing, metadata would include the name of the designer, the component number or the version number.
In HTML website programming, metadata is used to deliver information to servers, browsers and automated programs (such as robots, spiders and crawlers). That’s how search engines receive information about the page content. Users see the meta description when they search. If no meta description is given, the search engine displays text from the main body of your page instead.
See also: HTML
Neural networks are a technique used in artificial intelligence that teach computers to process data in a way that mimics how the human brain learns.
See also: Deep learning
The newsletter is a simple and quick method of informing customers or users about a brand’s latest news. It is a collection of information that is usually sent by e-mail, either to the entire customer base or to a specific customer group. Newsletters are not bound to a fixed sending time and can be sent at regular or irregular intervals as desired.
Editable files such as IDML, PPTX, DOCX etc. are also called open files. PDF files are not open files because they cannot be edited directly. PDFs can be converted, but the results can be unreliable, especially if sections of the document cannot be converted. Editable files are important in translation. A translator needs to receive your text in an editable format as this is more compatible with the translation tools that your language service provider uses.
A plug-in helps expand the functions of a software program. It is an add-on that enables the user to customise the applications and functions themselves to meet their particular needs. In a translation program, for example, a dictionary plug-in is a useful addition that helps to optimise translations.
Plunet is the name of the translation management software that we use to manage our translation projects at intercontact. As an all-in-one solution, it allows us to manage all our processes quickly and easily – from quotations, enquiries and order processing to workflow management and invoicing. Our customers benefit from this directly, as we can deliver their translations promptly, efficiently and to a high standard of quality. Learn more
See also: Translation management system
The abbreviation PIM stands for Product Information Management. A PIM system is a business application that streamlines internal processes so organisations can deliver consistent, high-quality product information to their customers. A PIM solution manages product data and makes it available for use in different output media, distribution channels and at different locations. For example, product descriptions and attributes can be made available for translation, then checked and updated by local marketing.
Proofreading is the final editing stage and applies to anything non-linguistic. This phase is optional and occurs after a piece of text has been designed and formatted for publishing. At this stage, the text is called a “proof” and shows how it will look in the final layout. It is given to a proofreader, who checks the text one last time before it goes online, goes to print or is distributed. A proofreader looks for any issues with the layout like:
- Page numbers
- Inconsistent type sizes or fonts
- Line, paragraph and page breaks
- Consistency with headings
- Photos and tables within the text
The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) defines quality as “the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bears its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.”In the translation industry, quality is essential and, fortunately, it doesn’t happen by chance. Quality requires the right processes and people, the correct tools and equipment, and the right approach and skills. Translation quality is the level to which a translation or transcreation accurately captures and conveys the information, intent and tone of the source document. It must also be appropriately worded, free from error and internally consistent. Moreover, quality can be determined according to established industry standards.
See also: DIN ISO 17100
Simplified, REST describes machine-to-machine communication via HTTP.
REST stands for Representational State Transfer. It is a software architecture that allows an unlimited number of different interfaces to be used and connected. This guarantees that data is transferred perfectly between different systems.
The API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is responsible for several tools and protocols for implementing data transfer in user software.
See also: API, HTTP
In order to be found on the Internet, a website or an online shop should be optimised for search engines. Terms (keywords) that a user searches for must be contained within the text. The most relevant keywords should not only be included in the national language of the website or online shop, but also in all the other languages it offers. It is important to note here that simply translating these keywords directly does not always work. Often, the words need to be localised for them to be found in other countries.
In addition to keywords, certain HTML techniques, e.g. metadata, contribute to a page being found more quickly. The so-called robots or spiders of the search engine operators search the internet (called "crawling"), read in the content and categorise web pages based on the text they contain.
See also: Localisation, HTML, Metadata, SEO translation
In the field of translation, a segment is a unit of text. These can be sentences, sub-sentences, headings, or even individual words (e.g. in lists). When working with a translation memory, the TM breaks down the source text into separate, smaller sections, or segments.
The segment pairs (source text and translation) are stored in the TM and are automatically suggested to the translator as soon as the same source segment appears again. This enables the translator to work consistently and efficiently.
See also: Translation memory
SEO translation (Search Engine Optimised translation) involves translating a text from one language to another while using the keywords that the target audience is actually searching for locally in that country.
SEO translation is very important when introducing a brand to a global audience. It makes a website more visible and easier to find, creates a higher overall SEO ranking and makes sure that the product or service is properly understood and received in other languages and cultures.
See also: Search Engine Optimisation, Keywords
The source language refers to the original language of a piece of text which is to be translated.
See also: Source text, target language, target text
The source text is the original piece of text that a translator is given to translate into another language. A translator translates source text from the source language into the target text in the desired target language.
See also: Source language, Target language, Target text
A style guide sets out guidelines for a company’s uniform appearance, called their corporate identity. This includes the use of their logo, colours, typography and fonts as well as the visual language. The visual language goes beyond simple brand standards and defines the company’s chosen styles for illustrations, icons and data visualisation for everything connected to their brand. In addition to this, style guides include company-specific parameters for spelling, punctuation and tonality.
As an example:
- Brand name always in capitals
- Headings have no full stop at the end
- Currency information given with the € symbol, placed before the digits, with a space in between
- Weight information given in kg and pounds/ounces, placed after the digits, with a space in between
A target audience is a subset of a target market. It is the group within that target market that receives advertisements and newsletters.
See also: Target market
Once a company has identified its target market, it is essential to take the cultural factors into account. In most cases, a brand’s marketing strategy needs to be localised and adapted accordingly. Cultural target market research, analysis and understanding are key to creating relevant content and to gaining and retaining a potential customer’s interest.
See also: Adaptation, content, localisation, target market
The target language refers to the language into which a piece of text is translated. For high-quality translations, it is essential that the translator speaks the target language as their mother tongue.
See also: Source language, Source text, Target text
A target market is a specific group of consumers with similar characteristics that a company has identified as potential customers. Their shared characteristics are based on demographics, including their age range, earning bracket, marital status, interests, purchasing behaviour and geographic location.
See also: Target audience
The target text is the result of a translation. When text is submitted for translation, it is referred to in technical language as the source text. The language in which the text is written is called the source language. Since different target languages have different grammatical structures and word lengths, the length of the target text can sometimes differ significantly from the length of the source text.
See also: Source language, Source text, Target language
A termbase (a contraction of “terminology” and “database”), or termbank, is a database in which product, service and company-specific terms are entered and stored. Individual terms are made available in the source and target language. Definitions, images, usage guidelines and other related information can also be added. Plus, unwanted terms can be blacklisted to prevent them from being used. At intercontact, we use several large, multilingual termbases, created by our terminology experts through their industry-specific, specialist knowledge.
In translation, terminology refers to a pool of terms used in a particular subject field, i.e. specialised words and expressions. It also refers to key phrases and terms used by a single company. Entries are created in the form of a glossary and digitally managed in multiple languages.
During the translation process at intercontact, every translator involved in a project has simultaneous access to the required terminology. Those in language lead roles can add and edit the terms and concepts in their language. These alterations are then double-checked before they are released to their colleagues.
Terminology management is an important building block in the translation process. Keeping multilingual terminology organised and up-to-date requires a system. Organising terminology – that is, establishing, defining, editing and using it – is called terminology management.
A terminology management system is a software tool where users can store, maintain and retrieve terminological data. It is used by translators, terminologists, technical writers, and various other users. The terminology is saved as separate termbases for specific industries and specific companies.
See also: Terminology, Termbase, Corporate wording
The term text correction refers to checking and correcting a piece of text for spelling, grammar, punctuation and minor mistakes. It does not involve any changes to the writing style, the manner of expression or the content.
See also: Copyediting, Proofreading
The title tag is one of the most important factors for achieving high rankings in search engines. The title tag is a part of the HTML code. Terms that are recorded in the title tag appear at the top of the browser’s title bar and are also offered as a suggestion when adding an HTML page to the browser favourites.
See also: HTML
A combination of the words translation and creation, transcreation describes a freer, more resourceful style of translation.
Most times, messaging written for one target audience won’t resonate with a culturally different group. A word-for-word literal translation could either miss the mark entirely or cause some huge, unseen problems. Transcreation, on the other hand, allows translators to capture your brand’s message and recreate it in a way that resonates with the new audience and is culturally appropriate, relevant and meaningful to the local market. They can inject their own creativity and cultural knowledge, all while staying true to the source text.
This is particularly true when it comes to translating idioms, sayings, expressions, slogans, taglines, product names and any form of marketing text.
See also: Adaptation, Localisation, Transcription
In the linguistic world, transcription refers to the transmission of spoken language into written form, known as sound to script. Examples here include typing up a doctor’s recorded voice notes into a medical transcription, or the audio-to-text transcription of an advert. The person who performs transcriptions is a transcriber.
Phonetic transcription (also known as phonetic script or phonetic notation) is the visual representation of speech sounds using symbols. This can be a great help for non-native speakers, as it is designed to communicate the right way to pronounce words.
Learn more about: The meaning behind the term: transcription
See also: Transliteration
A translation management system (TMS) helps companies and language service providers (LSPs) to centralise and automate localisation projects and translation workflows. This is essential when projects involve multiple translation service providers, agencies, freelancers and larger language resources.
See also: InterTMS (the translation management system developed by intercontact), Language service provider (LSP), Plunet
A translation memory is software that automatically records units of source text, and their translations, for future reuse. To do so, the software divides the source text into segments. The match does not have to be 100%. If the text is similar, it is suggested to the translator, who then decides whether to adopt or modify the text.
Learn more about: Translation Memories
See also: Fuzzy matches, Matches, Segment, Source text, Translation memory tool
Transliteration is the letter-for-letter transfer of words from one writing system to another (e.g. Greek to Latin letters). Transliteration is often used as an alternative to transcription.
See also: Transcription
The abbreviation URL stands for the English term "Uniform Resource Locator" and indicates the address of each individual web page on the Internet. A URL can be entered directly in the address bar at the top of the browser screen.
XLIFF is the abbreviation for "XML Localisation Interchange File Format". XLIFF is an XML-based format and is used exclusively for translations and localisations. In the translation field, XLIFF files serve as the standard format for exchanging translation files with corresponding contextual information.
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