Business Talk

15 Most Used Translation Terminology

Understanding translation terms for beginners

In today’s topic, I want to talk about the jargons most used in the translation industry, I have selected 15 of the most used translation terms.

When outsourcing translation jobs, part of the process is communicating with the agency or the freelance translator you have hired.

Let’s simulate that you have sent your documents for translation and you have received  the following response from your resource:

Dear X,

Thank you for your request.

I would like to discuss with you a few points regarding your request, so I can prepare a more precise quote for your needs.

I have noticed that your file is a poster, which indicates that DTP will be needed. In order for your file to be translated, I will need all the original files for DTP. Unless, you would like to receive your deliverables in a different format?

In which target languages would you like your document to be translated?

I look forward to your response.

Kind regards,


This is an exaggerated response with way too many industry related terms. Normally, I try to write back in simple language, so first time buyers understand what is needed from them. However,  wouldn’t it be great to understand what those terms mean?

I have compiled a list of 15 terms that are frequently used in client communication.

  • Back Translation

Process where the document is translated into the target language and then re-translated from target into source.

For example: A document was originally written in English and translated into Portuguese. After the translation is completed, it will be translated from Portuguese back into  English.

This is an approach used when the client wants to verify if the translation rendered the meaning of the original file.

  • CAT Tool

Computer Assisted Translation Tools are used by translators to translate, maintain consistency and terminology of the text.

You can check my blog post about CAT Tools and what they can do for you here.

  • Termbase

Collection of terms into a database where information such as the translation of the term, register, deprecated terms and images in multiple languages can be added forming a termbase

  • Deliverables

All documents and file types that need to be sent to the client

  • Brief

Instructions sent to the linguist on how to perform the translation. A brief can include all the description of the project, including where it will be published, the audience, type of language…

  • DTP

DTP stands for Desktop Publishing. Files that need DTP are those created with graphics to be printed in large scale, such as leaflets, brochures, business cards…

InDesign and Framemaker are examples of DTP tools.

  • Editable Format

File format in which is possible to translate into, with or without the use of a CAT Tool. Word, Power Point, Excel, .idml file in InDesign.

  • Language Pair

This can be related to the language(s) in which the documents are being translated or the language(s) the resource can provide translation.

For example: I provide translation services in the following language pair: English into Brazilian Portuguese.

You have a document that needs to be translated from English into Brazilian Portuguese.

English into Brazilian Portuguese is the Language Pair for this translation.

  • Post-Editing

This is  a process where the document to be translated will be machine translated first and then sent to a translator for review and amendments.

  • QA

This is a stage of the translation process. After the document is translated and proofread, it goes through internal or external Quality Assurance processes for inspection of errors, such as typos, formatting and all verification needed to make sure the target text is up to the client’s specifications

  • Register

In simple terms is how you want the document to be translated. Depending on the subject and audience you might have to translate your document with a formal or informal tone.

For example: You have a large brochure about travelling to Brazil that you have used to give to corporate client’s during a conference. Now, you would like to translate part of the content of this brochure into a short leaflet to give to non corporate clients.

The formality of both documents will be different and the translator should take this into account.

  • ST 

ST or Source Text, means the language the document was written. This is the original document.

  • Terminology

Terminology is a group of words that help identify a field, a brand or even a TV series.

This blog post is about part of the terminology used in the Translation Industry.

Toits, Noice, Cool, No doubt are part of the terminology used in Brooklyn 99. Yes, I watch that and I love it!

  • TT 

TT stands for target language. This means the language or languages you want your document to be translated.

  • Transproof

A document that will be transproofed, will go through two stages, translation and proofreading

Now that you have familiarized yourself with those terms, would you like to talk about how we can help you transproof your source text?

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