Translation company jargon: Translated!

TranslationWalking into a new workplace introduces you to a realm of jargon. No matter our occupation, we all use it. From retail (POS, merchandising, etc.) to photography (CMYK/RGB, aperture, exposure, etc.), there exist thousands of vocabularies veered toward particular careers and hobbies.

While it makes matters easier for those who understand the jargon, the rest of us need subtitles just to keep up.

The language services industry is also guilty of employing a jargon-filled vocabulary. We send docs to translators, ask clients for POs, insert keywords into TMs and send our documents through QC. The sea of acronyms is sprinkled with industry words, all of which are supposed to reduce time when speaking about translation projects.

Whether it makes work conversations shorter and more efficient, I can’t tell, but it does confuse prospective clients and new employees.

So to help you out, here’s a breakdown of translation industry jargon:

Localization (aka L10N) — A step beyond translation, localization ensures that the final document will be understood by a specific group of people, if the client knows the geographic region of the audience. Dynamic Language, for example, will find people native to a specific geographic location if the client has content that will be targeted specifically to people in that region.

Quote — Cost estimate prepared for a client, which requires client approval before translation begins.

Source — The language in which the original content is written.

Target — The language into which the content is translated.

TM — Translation Memory: A database of words, phrases and sentences that have been saved from past translations to make future translation projects both more efficient and to keep terms consistent through multiple projects.

IR — Independent Review: Review of the translation by a native speaker of the target language.

QC — Quality Control: Also called Quality Assurance (QA), this step is taken after translation and/or graphic design to ensure maximum project quality.

DTP — Desktop Publishing (aka Graphic Design or Layout): The creation of documents using computer software, such as Adobe InDesign and Illustrator and Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. Some translation companies will offer DTP and graphic design services to make the translated document look as close to the original as possible.

Language code — The two-letter abbreviation given to languages (German=DE, French=FR, Italian=IT, etc.). By using these instead of full language names, emails and other communications become shorter and less wordy, especially for projects involving multiple target languages.

Expansion rate — When quoting a project, a project manager will often need to adjust the word count to account for text expansion for languages that typically translate into a higher word count than English.

PO — Purchase Order: Clients often supply a Purchase Order number to keep in the translation company’s records for invoicing and reference purposes. This also helps with communication between the client and the translation company, and allows for a consistent reference system that can be used if and when questions are raised in the future.