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Demystifying the jargon

A glossary of the key terms and acronyms you might encounter in the translation sphere



Working with a translator to get your documents (or website, or marketing materials etc) translated shouldn’t be a complicated process, and here at Josephina Worrall Translation I do my best to dispense with any unnecessary jargon or acronyms because, believe me, the translation industry is full of them!


To clear the muddied waters, read on to discover some of the terminology you might come across.


Translation: Translation deals with the written word, and the dictionary tells us that it is the activity or process of changing the words of one language into the words of another language that have the same meaning. While this may be the basic premise of translation, any translator worth their salt knows that translating just the words is not enough. It is crucial to consider the overall meaning, tone and purpose of a text – not just the individual words. For example, a legal document will need to use much more formal language than a blog post or a marketing campaign.

Interpreting: In contrast to translation, interpreting deals with the spoken word. There are different kinds of interpreting – such as simultaneous, consecutive and chuchotage – but in essence it involves listening to a speaker speak in one language, and then re-speaking those words in a different language.

Revision: An additional quality assurance step in the translation process, revision is when a professional compares a translation with the original text (known as the source text) to check that the translation is accurate and fit for purpose. The reviser may correct any errors of meaning, grammar, spelling, register and tone. All the translations provided by Josephina Worrall Translation are revised in this manner by a qualified, experienced reviewer, unless your priority is a lower cost, in which case this can be discussed.

Proofreading: Sometimes known as editing, this is a monolingual task that consists of looking only at the completed translation (or any text) and checking that it is grammatically correct, reads well, that there are no spelling mistakes or typos, and (often) correcting formatting errors.

Transcription: The process of listening to a recording and committing what is spoken to paper, often using timecoding and indicating who is speaking. This can either be monolingual (i.e. an English recording written out in English) or include a translation stage, i.e. by taking a French recording and writing out an English translation.

Transcreation: A creative process that involves adapting the message from the original text in the translation for a specific purpose while retaining the same tone, intent and style. It is often used in marketing materials to ensure the translation is appropriate for the target audience and results in a ‘freer’ translation that is not word-for-word.

Localisation: This involves making a text more appropriate for the target country or region.

CAT tool: Not as feline as it sounds. CAT stands for computer-assisted translation, and comprises a wide range of different tools to help the translator in their task. They can increase consistency and result in productivity gains. Here at Josephina Worrall Translation, I use Trados Studio 2019 which improves consistency and productivity.

Google Translate: A professional translator’s kryptonite. I won’t bore you with a list of all its failings here, but it suffices to do a quick internet search for ‘Google Translate fails’ and you will see why it is often not a good choice for your business’s translation needs. Aside from the terrible quality it commonly produces, there are significant privacy and copyright implications to consider.

Source language: The language of the original document that will be translated. For example, you may have a French report that you need translated.

Target language: The language you need your source document translated into. At Josephina Worrall Translation, I provide translations into English, which is my mother tongue, ensuring you get the best quality. All the other translators who work with me on larger projects also only translate into their mother tongue.



If you have any questions this article doesn’t answer, then please send me a message containing your query or give me a call and I will be happy to help!

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