Technical translation terms and abbreviations for beginners

February 15, 2016
Technical translation terms and abbreviations for beginners

Translation is just like any other industry in that there are terms and expressions that may not be immediately clear to those considering a career as a translator or those who have just started out on such a career. 

Therefore, we’ve gathered together some of the technical translation terms and most commonly used abbreviations, to give those new to the industry a head start. 

Technical translation terms

Target language – this is the target that the client wants his document translated into. 

Source language – this is the original language that the client’s document is in. 

Text volume – this refers to the number of words in a document. It’s essential to know the text volume in order to quote a price for a translation job and to work out how long it will take to complete. 

Certified translation – this is when a completed translation is accompanied by a certificate to prove that it is an authentic translation of the original document. 

Typesetting – this refers to arranging text in a particular way on the page and is often requested in relation to translations of materials like brochures and presentations. 

Translation abbreviations

TMS – translation memory software. This is software that stores phrases and sentences that have been used for a particular client’s translation, to assist in speeding up that client’s next translation. The software can then make suggestions as to the phrases or sentences to use and the translator can verify or amend each one. 
CAT – computer assisted translation. This refers to translation that is undertaken using translation memory software. It is not the same as machine translation. 

MT – machine translation. This refers to translations that are undertaking using online tools and software, such as Google Translate. 

Final thoughts

These are some of the most commonly used translation terms and abbreviations, to get you started. 

What other terms have you come across that needed explanation? Did any abbreviations trip you up? Share your experiences via the comments. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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