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The Language of Translation

The language of translation1

Welcome to GlobaLexicon’s new series!

If you are not a translator but have had to request translations for your company, or perhaps you have some friends who work in the translation industry, then you might have heard mention of CATS, FIGS, TMs, MT and other jargon; no, sadly, we do not enlist the help of friendly felines or eat exotic fruits when we translate. Below you will find a list of some useful terminology that will help you to navigate the world of translation lingo.



The process of making specific changes to a text in a target language so that it made culturally appropriate for a different country where the same target language is spoken. Example: adapting a translation to Canadian English from American English.



An additional quality step that can be requested after translation. This step consists of translating a translation back into the original source language and is usually accompanied by a Reconciliation step, where the original source text and the back-translated target text are compared to check for potential discrepancies and mistranslations.


CAT tools

An acronym for Computer Assisted Translation tools, but this does not mean we use machine translation! CAT tools are software that translators use to facilitate the process by placing the source and the target text side by side, whilst creating Translation Memories and Termbases to assist with speed and consistency.



An acronym for Desktop Publishing. In translation, this means the process of using OCR tools or other tools to convert non-editable text (PDFs, digital scans, etc) into editable (live) files, which can then be edited and formatted in order to be processed by CAT tools.

It can also be used to refer to the process of formatting the target text so that it matches the source formatting.


A type of audio-visual translation. It consists of replacing the original audio track of a film with another, usually one that has been translated into the target audience’s language.



One of the translation process steps by which a proofreader makes changes to the text to improve fluency and readability so that it doesn’t sound like a translation.



An abbreviation of French, Italian, German and Spanish, four of the most in-demand languages in the translation industry.



An acronym for globalisation, internationalisation, localisation, and translation.




The process of rendering oral spoken or signed communication from one language to another, or the output that results from this process.




Link check

The process of going through an online survey like a respondent, checking that all questions, special characters and text display correctly, that piping and html is working as it should, and that the online questionnaire matches the translated survey signed off by the client.


The adaptation of a product (software, video games, website, etc.) to the language and culture of a particular region/market.


Machine Translation (also known as automated translation)

A translation carried out by a machine without any human involvement. Commonly abbreviated as MT.


Native language

The language that a person is exposed to and uses from birth.



The process of copying an approved translation (Word file, PowerPoint, Excel file, etc.) and transferring it into a different file format (.xml, .xls) that will be used to create an online survey.



The process whereby translators proofread and edit automatic translations (machine translations).



The final quality assurance check of translated documents to ensure that they are delivered to the highest professional standard. This may include checking numbers, completeness, that all text is translated, formatting, etc.



A sentence or phrase that is repeated in the source text and which can be leveraged for consistency by the Translation Memory software.



A type of audio-visual translation. This involves translating the spoken dialogue of a film into written text, usually placed at the bottom of the screen, from a source language into a target language. Other information that is portrayed can also be translated, for example signs (written) or song lyrics (aurally).


TL or Target Language

The language into which a source text is translated. Since many languages throughout the world have several varieties or dialects, etc. (e.g. Brazilian Portuguese vs. European Portuguese, Simplified vs. Traditional Chinese, etc.), the target language should be more specific than just “English”, for example, as the audience must always be taken into consideration when translating.




A type of audio-visual translation. This involves creating a new audio of usually only one voice that is placed over the original audio track of a film, without replacing it entirely. Unlike dubbing, you can hear the original dialogue, as well as its translation.




An acronym in English that stands for XML Localization Interchange File Format. This is an XML-based format created to standardize the way localizable data are passed between tools during a localization process and is a common format for CAT tool exchange.



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