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Translation & Localization Industry Glossary 


Like every industry, the translation and localization industry has its own jargon. Below you will find some commonly used terms used by the industry.
If you have a term that you'd like us to explain, please use our Online Form to send us your request. Check back often, as we continue to refine and add to this glossary.

See terms below.

Alignment: An alignment involves matching segments of an original text with their corresponding translations to create a translation memory. The alignment process is accomplished using special purposes CAT software, and requires the efforts of an individual able to read the two languages been aligned. Saving the output of an alignment procedure into a translation memory allows the reuse of previous translations in future projects when no translation memory was available prior. The saving generated usually outweighs the cost of the process hence making it worthwhile to save money and also to ensure consistency of style.

Computer Aided Translation (CAT) Tool: Software that supports and facilitates the translation process. The non-translatable elements (such as formatting or programming codes) are filtered out and the text is segmented using language specific rules to optimize matching the content with a translation memory. Human translators use these tools to manage and select terminology glossaries, lookup and apply translation memory entries. Most modern CAT software also include QA features as well as spell checkers. Some CAT software are desktop applications that allow to connect to translation memories stored locally or remotely (so multiple translators can work in paralel with the same corpus), and in recent years the industry saw the apparition of cloud based applications where the translation tool is accessed from within web browsers.

Desktop Publishing (DTP): Wikipedia defines DTP as the creation of printed materials using page layout on a personal computer, this is generally done using special purpose software such as Adobe Indesign and FrameMaker or QuarkXpress. Documents when translated must generally be adjusted, the layout is impacted by differences in text lenght from the source language, and also page size requirements vary per locale (i.e. Letter in the US vs A4 in many other places in the world). In the context of localization, DTP is the service provided to make the translated document “publication-ready”. See Documentation for more information.

Exact Match: See Matches and Repetitions. 

Fuzzy Match: See Matches and Repetitions.

G11N: An abbreviation for globalization. The number 11 stands for the number of letters in between the first and last letters.

Globalization: The general term used to describe worldwide economic, political, technological and social integration. The process of making all the necessary technical, financial, managerial, personnel, marketing and other enterprise decisions to facilitate expansion into international markets. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Globalization is the process by which organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale.

Glossary: A list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge and their definitions. Multilingual glossaries include translations of the terms and are used as reference materials during translation. A glossary can be used to ensure that technical terms or product names are constantly translated the same way or to maintain a particular style by providing translations that are specific to the company lingo.

Interpreting: Interpreting is the process of oral translation, whereby the interpreters and speakers communicate face-to-face. In Simultaneous Interpreting, the interpreter speaks while simultaneously listening to the next sentence (ie. over headphones at large conferences, media launches and live TV broadcasts). During Consecutive Interpreting, the speaker pauses every few minutes so that the interpreter can translate into the target language (ie. generally used for meetings, presentations and training courses).

I18N: An abbreviation for internationalization. The number 18 stands for the number of letters in between the first and last letters.

Internationalization: The process of ensuring at a technical/design level that a product can be easily localized for international markets.

L10N: An abbreviation for localization. The number 10 stands for the number of letters in between the first and last letters.

Language Pair/Combination: A language pair is the set of languages a linguist translates from and into. Language combinaison are normally defined in "source language" and "target language". For example, a translator specializing in English>Russian will usually translate documents from English into Russian. See Linguistic Talent.

Language Services Provider: A language services provider is a company or agency that offers an extended range of services to assist companies with their global activities, such as translation, writing, marketing, localizatio, internationalization, etc. Read about Our Services.

Loanword: A loanword is a word taken from one language and used in another without translation. Examples of loanwords used in English include bizarre and hors d’oeuvre (from French).

Localization: Localization is the process of adapting software or content for linguistic and/or cultural differences in distinct markets or locations.

Machine Translation: MT or Machine translation is the process of translating content from one language to another using a software (as opposed to a human translator). There are two main approaches to machine translation: [1] Rule based MT, where the software algorithm comprehend the grammar and the vocabulary, as well as the semantic, morphological, and syntactic regularities of each language respectively to "reconstruct" a content from one language to the other. [2] Statistical MT, uses statistical models whose algorithms are based from the analysis of bilingual text corpora. The most advanced machine translation engines available today are usually a hybrid of both models. While MT has been used successfully by corporations in specific business cases, it requires scale and resources and can only be considered for specific types of content that require minimal creativity. These limitations put machine translation out of reach for most translation programs, but MT can still provides quick, easy and cost effective means of translations of text in some cases. See The case for Machine Translation.

Marketing Translation: Marketing translation is the process of adapting marketing materials into local markets and local languages for globalization of a brand or product.  Marketing translation ensure that the company’s positioning and voice is consistent throughout all marketing materials including websites, collateral, packing, product specifications and brochures for foreign markets. 

Matches and Repetitions: Each time a new document is submitted for translation, the document is analyzed against the company’s translation memory, highlighting matches and repetitions in the document. Exact matches provide the highest amount of cost savings because the text already has an approved translation. The translator must verify that the pre-translated match is accurate. A fuzzy match is found when a text string closely matches another text string in the TM allowing the translator to lightly modify the translation. Repetitions are phrases or sentences that are repeated continuously throughout a document and are usually discounted as 100% matches.  See Translation Memory.

MLV: An abbreviation for multi-language vendor, a term used to describe a localization service provider offering a wide range of languages and other services.

Mother Tongue: A person’s native language. It is possible for one to have more than one mother tongue, especially if he/she were raised in a bi-lingual household or country or had extensive lifetime education in a second language.

Proofreading: The process of checking a translated document for correct spelling, punctuation, grammar and general flow of a document. This is best done by a different linguist, rather than the same translator who created the translated document. See Our Process.

Reference Material: Support materials for translators to help adhere to preferred writing styles and terminology.  Examples of support material include company glossaries, dictionaries, style guides, previous translations, web sites, screenshots, pictures, graphics, etc.

SLV: An abbreviation for single language vendor, a term used to describe a localization service provider offering only one or a restricted number of languages.

Source Language: The original language of a document.

Target Language: The language into which a translation will be done. See which languages we cover.

TM:  An abbreviation for Translation Memory.

Transcreation: The process of creating documents of a promotional nature, such as advertisements, newsletters and press releases in a different language from scratch rather than translated. To achieve the best quality, promotional or advertising documents should be written into foreign languages using the source text only for inspiration and guideline. If an existing marketing document requires a more robust promotional style in a foreign language, a transcreator can take the content or storyboard as a baseline, and bring in creativity with unique copywriting and editorial review in the local language. Trancreation is like hiring PR or brand management expertise from another country to develop local advertising campaigsn. Transcreation is highly specialized and creative intensive, a higher level of collaboration, time and costs commitments are usually associated with this compared to Marketing Translations.  See Marketing & Advertising.

Translation: Translation is the process of expressing text into one language from another language.

Translation Agency: A translation agency is a company that provides language translation services. Read about HT Localization.

Translation Memory (TM): A database containing a company’s approved translated terms and phrases. These translations are reviewed each time a project is submitted; any matches and repetitions are incorporated into the new project for reference to provide consistency and cost savings. See the value of Translation Memory.

Word Count: A word count states the number of words in a document and is often used to determine pricing. Translation agencies typically use sophisticated analysis tools which connect to translation memories and produce accurate word counts reflecting matches and repetitions.

HT Localization, LLC. is a worldwide translation & localization agency offering high quality multi-lingual services. Providing a full range of professional language translation services. Including marketing translations, website translations, software translations, eLearning materials, documentation translations, and much much more. We cover all languages, all materials and most industries.


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