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The “Language” of Translation


The “language” of translation can be new and confusing. We've put together this glossary to help you better understand some of the terms you may come across while browsing our website. If you have questions about Rapport or any of the terms or processes explained below please contact us.  And as always, we offer free consultations and free quotes.


Glossary of Terms & Phrases


Certified translation – A certified translation contains a clause stating that the translation was done by an independent party to the subject matter of the document. The document is then notarized. An individual can never certify a translation done for his or her own materials. Translators will also say that they are certified by certain organizations such as the American Translator’s Association. There is no official industry certification. 


Gist Translation – Machine translation and free translation services offer gist translation to give the user an idea of what the text is about. Gist translation can save money for large documents but should not be depended on for actual meaning. Human translation is still the only way to get an accurate translation for the intended meaning.


Globalization – This is the preparation of a product or material to be used globally. All materials to do with the product can then be adapted for local markets (see localization).  


Human Translator – Translators who are native speakers who translate the text from the source language to the target language. Expect greater accuracy from a human translation (100%) as opposed to a machine translation (70%).


Internationalization – This is another word for globalization.


Interpreting – The conversion of the spoken word from one language to another.  


Interpreting, simultaneous – The conversion of the spoken word from one language to another while the speaker is speaking.


Interpreting, consecutive – The conversion of the spoken word from one language to another by an interpreter as the speaker pauses for the interpretation.


Interpreting, conference – The conversion of the spoken word from one language to one or many other languages while the speaker is speaking.


Language Pair – The term used to define the source language and the target language. For example, for text that is being converted from Spanish to English, the language pair would be Spanish-English or sp-en.


Localization – The process of adapting the language, cultural, and technical content into readily acceptable usage for distinct markets. 


Machine Aided Translation – Tools to help the human translators work accurately and quickly. Most are terminology databases and translation memories. Examples include Trados, DejaVu, Wordfast, Transit, and SDLX.


Machine Translation – The translation of text from one language to another by computer without human intervention. This process depends the computer’s capacity to analyze the structure of a statement and translate the elements into the same structure in another language. Market analysts predict that this percentage will not change radically by 2007 and that it will remain only about 1% of an over US $10 billion translation marketplace. Good for providing “gist translation”.


Native Speaker – (mother tongue) – A native speaker is a person who has spoken the language from about the age of 5 and has a “normal” accent for the region. The person is most familiar with in regards to language, dialects, culture and customs.


Professional Human Translation – The transformation of the written word from one language to another by a person experienced in translating from the source language to a native target language. Usually, the translator has familiarity with the subject matter.


Quality Translation – Translation done by a professional human translator. To maintain quality for important documents, you want to have an experienced translator. In-house personnel may not have the experience or specific localization knowledge to deliver the quality you need.  


Source Language – The original language of a document, web page or email before it is translated.


Target Language – The language into which the material is to be translated.


Transcreation – Developing brand content that is culturally relevant while keeping the message consistent.  Standard translation may not communicate the emotional intent of the content for other cultures and languages.


Translation – The transformation of the written word from one language to another.  


Translation Glossaries – Databases of terms collected on translation projects used for reference in future projects of a similar nature.


Translation Memory Software – Software that automates the storage of matching source and target language segments for future use.


Website translation – This is the translation of web pages for use in other languages. 85% of web sites are in English yet 50% of web users are native speakers of another language.

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