Un petit recueil

Terms and expressions commonly used in the translation profession.

Please feel free to reach out to the intransol team to send us any suggestions you may have for this glossary by emailing us at Thanks!

Alignment – The pairing of source language segments with target-language equivalents from the source and target files, i.e. “Trados WinAlign” aligns Word files. Results of an alignment are used for the creation of a translation memory. Alignment is usually a step that must be done when material has not been translated using a translation tool in the past.  Alignment is generally a cost-effective way to re-use existing translation that was translated using traditional mechanisms.

Call-out – A way of marking up source documents for translation. A callout is made by marking a portion of text and assigning a specific letter to it. This letter is then used to refer to that block of text. Callouts eliminate confusion between English and translated versions of text.

CE Mark – “CE” is French for “Conformité Européenne”. CE Marking is the main tool employed in harmonizing European product standards. The CE Mark indicates that products have passed certain European Union (EU) and European Commission (EC) health, safety and environmental standards. The CE Mark is an important sales factor for any company entering the European market and, in some cases, is a legal requirement in Europe.

Certified translation – A certified translation is a translation that is produced with the highest levels of accuracy and quality to satisfy legal requirements of accuracy. Certified translations of documents are required by the USCIS for immigration purposes as well as by courts and for other official purposes. A certified translation is stamped with a certification seal that states that it is a true and accurate translation of the source language document. It usually also has an attestation from the translator or translation company stating their levels of competencies in both languages and stating their professional qualifications. Some organizations also require a certified translation to be notarized.

Conference interpreting – The verbal transfer of spoken information from one language to another performed by a simultaneous interpreter ant an conference or event. Usually conference interpreting is done with sophisticated interpretation equipment such as sound booths, consoles, transmitters and receivers, but now conference interpreting can also be done virtually or remotely through the use of sophisticated software and smartphone apps.

Consecutive interpreting – The oral translation of the spoken word from one language to another by an interpreter as the speaker pauses to allow the interpreter to relay the message.

Cyrillic – The character set or “alphabet” used by such languages as Russian, Bulgarian and Ukrainian.

Desktop Publishing (DTP) – The process of formatting translated content using client-provided files to match the original document, and adapting it to foreign typographical and cultural norms. Used interchangeably with “typesetting.”

Double-byte languages – Refers to languages whose character sets require two bytes of information to specify each character (like Chinese, Japanese and Korean). This group is often referred to collectively as CJK. See also single-byte.

Estimate – A written estimate is prepared for clients before commencing with any work. The estimate will provide a project description, costs, schedule, final deliverables and payment information.  To officially begin a project, the estimate must be signed and dated or accepted by written communication.

Expansion – The number of words or space that translated text takes up in comparison to the original English. Most translations expand to 110-125% the volume of their English counterparts.

Fuzzy matching – A process that statistically analyzes a segment to determine its equivalence to another segment.  Similar to leveraging, fuzzy matching finds duplicate material that is “similar”.

Globalization – A general term for the preparation of American materials for use in foreign markets. Interchangeable with “internationalization.”

Globalization tools – Assist in the process of globalization.  These tools include workflow automation, I18N, translation memory and machine translation technologies. Globalization tools are critical to industry because they improve the overall process, improve quality, and decrease cost. For the most part, all companies involved in globalization have realized the need for these types of tools and technologies.

Glossary – A word list (like this one) in at least one but also in multiple languages, usually with definitions. In the translation and localization industry, the terms “glossary” and “lexicon” are used synonymously. Their purpose is to ensure accuracy and consistency in terminology usage – a  critical function when producing volumes of technical documentation or a localized interface. There are many powerful glossary-management tools used in the translation and localization industry, and many of the most popular glossaries are available online. (See Internet links).

Internationalization – the act of preparing text, documentation and other materials for the localization process.

Human translator – Translator who is a native-speaker of one language and fluent in another who translates text and content from a source language to a target language. Expect greater accuracy from human translation (100%) versus machine translation (70%).

Idiom – A colloquial expression like “take a shower” alters the verb “take” from its dictionary meaning. This phrase is an idiomatic use of the verb “take.” In We used to live in Kansas, there is no logical meaning of the phrase “used to.”

Imperial The name for the measurements system used in the United States (including miles, feet, inches, pounds, gallons, cups, etc.). In-country  – Refers to the country where your internationalized materials will be used.

Internationalization – A general term for the preparation of American materials for use in foreign markets. Interchangeable with “globalization.”

Interpretation or Interpreting – The oral transfer of information from one language to another as performed by an interpreter.

Interpreter – A person who is fluent in more than one language who verbally transfers information from one language to another through the spoken word to people who do not understand the source language.

International Accreditation Forum (IAF) – Formed in the early 1990s to harmonize worldwide accreditation practices; rapidly becoming the forum that could serve as a nongovernmental regulatory arm for international standards.

Language pair – The term used to describe the source language and the target language during the translation, localization or interpreting process. For example, when something is being translated from English to Dutch, the language paid is English>Dutch (EN>NL).

Layout proof – A post-typesetting review done internally by intránsol to ensure a document’s integrity. Layout proofs are performed by both a member of the translation team and another intránsol  project member.

Leveraging – The recycling of duplicate material from one upgrade to another or from one similar product to another.  Leveraging results in significant cost savings by using material from previously translated projects.  Most translation tools have leveraging capabilities.

Lexicon – A glossary of terms specific to a certain product or project. Assembling a lexicon provides a reference for translators that ensures all important terms are used consistently within your document(s). Lexicon development is suggested for all large and/or ongoing projects.

Localization – The act of taking a product and tailoring it for use in a local market. Although not exclusive by definition, the term is used in the software industry to describe the translation of a software product, including the graphic user interface (GUI), online help and documentation which would be “localized” into the intended target languages. The term can be used for anything that is translated for use in a local market, including print materials, packaging, etc. Consumers will almost invariably select the localized version of a product over a non-localized version.

Machine translation (MT) – A technology that relies on the computer to perform in-depth grammatical, syntax and some semantic analysis of the source language, and then attempts to translate the source language into the target language using extensive glossaries, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and a complex set of linguistic rules. For the most part, machine translation has never been a commercial success.  Machine translation is traditionally more expensive to set up, operate and maintain then other translation tools.  In addition, it performs below publication-grade translation.

Native fluency – The level one obtains in a second language when their speaking ability is that of a native-speaker. Many times when a person is almost fluent in another language, it can be said that they have “near native fluency”.

Native literacy – The level one obtains in a second language when their reading and writing ability is that of a native-speaker. Many times when a person is almost completely literate in another language, it can be said that they have “near native literacy”.

Native-speaker – A native-speaker is any person who grew up speaking a language and who has spoken the language all of his or her life making it his or her “mother tongue”.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) – A subfield of linguistics, computer science, information engineering, and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages, in particular how to program computers to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data.

Non-Roman – Refers to languages whose “alphabets” use characters other than that used for English and Western European languages (French, German, Spanish, etc.). Non-Roman languages include most Asian, Central & Western European, Russian and Middle Eastern languages.

PDF – The “Portable Document Format,” created by Adobe Systems which allows any document to be distributed to any user independent of the software used to create it. A PDF can be viewed by downloading the Acrobat Reader application free from Adobe. PDFs can be useful to users who do not have the ability to work with non-Roman character sets. Process color or four-color – The method used to print full color photographs and images by combining different amounts of only four basic printers’ inks: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK).

Project analysis – Like a quotation or estimate, a project analysis estimate provides cost, schedule and final deliverables information. Project analyses are prepared when certain major project specifications remain uncertain. An analysis allows us to suggest ways to handle very large projects or projects still in development. The price on an project analysis is not guaranteed. To officially begin a project, a quotation or estimate must be prepared.

Proof copy – The final copy of your translation (typeset if applicable) which we give to you and/or your in-country contact for review.

Quotation – A quotation provides detailed costs, schedule, final deliverables and payment information. The price on a quotation is guaranteed if the project remains in the specifications set therein. To officially begin a project, the quotation must be signed, dated and returned  to us.

Resolution – A value denoting the concentration of visual information on a monitor or output device, usually expressed in dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). The higher the value, the better the image quality. “High resolution” for an output device usually refers to 1200 dpi and higher output. “High resolution” for an electronic photo usually means 300 ppi. The common resolution for monitors is 72 ppi. Common resolutions for laser printers are 300, 600 and 1200 dpi. Common resolutions for imagesetters are 1270, 2540 and 3000 dpi.

Screen frequency, screen ruling or line screen – A value denoting the number of lines per inch (lpi) in a screen used to create a halftone image. The higher the number of lines, the finer the image quality. Common screen frequency for a laser printer is 75-85 lpi. Common screen frequencies for imagesetters are 133 and 150 lpi.

Service bureau – A business which provides image-setting and pre-press services (e.g., high resolution film and RC paper, Matchprints, color prints, etc.).

Simultaneous interpreting – The conversion of the spoken word from one language to another simultaneously without pauses by the speaker as in consecutive interpreting. Simultaneous interpreting is perhaps one of the most difficult and exhausting tasks in the language business. It requires complete fluency in both the source and target languages, a quick and agile mind, and a powerful command of the vocabulary being used. For this reason, simultaneous interpreters always work in pairs, switching out every 15-20 minutes.

Single-byte languages – Refers to languages whose character sets require only 1 byte of information to specify each character. See also double-byte languages.

Source document – The original (usually English) document(s) that you provide to us  for translation.

Source language – The original language of any content or publication that is translated to another language or other languages.

Target language – The language that something is intended to be translated into. “The source language of the manual is English and the target language is Spanish”.

Target market – The group of people who will use your final, internationalized materials. These people are most likely residents of a foreign country, or people in North America speaking a language other than English.

Total Quality Assurance (TQA) Reviews – Our detailed internal proofing process which includes document preparation, consistency checks, lexicon compliance, translation, proofreading, editing & revision and layout proof. Translation – The rewriting of text into a different language, while maintaining the meaning of the original. In the industry, the word “translation” is sometimes abbreviated XL.

Transcreation – The process of creative translation, usually necessary for advertising or marketing content that contains colloquialisms, puns, plays on words, etc. that will not be captured or conveyed correctly with straight, literal translation. Often times in the transcreation process, text actually needs to be completely re-written with the same general ideas or concepts, but expressed in a way that is liguistically and culturally authentic for the target audience.

Translation – The process of adapting or transferring written ideas and messages in one language to another language.

Translation memory – The product of translation memory software that aids the process of translation by analyzing and comparing text for matches and repetition and populates a database of translated terms “on-the-fly” so that terms are translated consistently. Translation memory software helps human translators accelerate the translation process and is especially useful for high volumes of content that will have many updates and revisions over time. Translation memory software does not actually do the translation and it requires both the knowledge of the software and the source and target languages to use it. Translation memory can save clients with large translation needs time and money.

Trapping – The process of compensating for the imprecision of a printing press. Basically, it involves increasing the area of one color where it meets another color, to ensure there will be no white space between them.

Typesetting – The process of formatting a translation using client-provided files to match the original document, and adapt it to foreign typographical and cultural norms. Typesetting originally referred to the placement of metal type and its arrangement to create a printing plate. Used interchangeably with “desktop publishing” (DTP).

Unicode – One large double-byte code which can specify all the characters in the world. It is defined by the Unicode Consortium.

Web publishing – The process of using client-provided HTML files to format a translation to match the originals, and adapting it to foreign typographical and cultural issues. Similar to desktop publishing.

Word count – A tallying of the number of words in a source document. Translation is usually priced based on “per word” rates; for this reason, accurate word counts are essential.