How useful is translation jargon?
As with all industries, there is a lot of misused jargon in the translation industry. Now, jargon can be a useful way of ensuring everyone is on the same page, but only when it is used correctly. Many people use jargon as a way of making themselves feel clever, or sounding like they know what they’re doing, even if they don’t. At Integro, we don’t pretend to know things we don’t, and we don’t use any unnecessary jargon. Here is some of the most common jargon in the translation industry, and why we do or don’t use it.
This is one piece of translation jargon that is worth understanding. Most translation providers will use a Computer Aided Translation Tool to ensure consistency through their translations for a client. It is important to realise that a CAT tool is not the same thing as a machine translation, such as Google Translate or the like. Instead, a CAT tool is used to create and store translation memories, and important relevant information about the way a client uses a term in their source text. CAT tools are essential to providing a quality translation, and professional translations should not be completed without one.
Translation Memory / TM
Translation memories are really important. They’re basically the backbone of the entire translation industry. In simple terms, a Translation Memory is a bilingual database, matching up source language and target language sentences (not words) in pairs. The point of this is that with the help of a CAT tool (see above) a translator can reference previous translations, achieve consistency and in some cases, completely avoid the need to translate content that has been translated before. As with CAT tools above, don’t ever work with anyone who isn’t using a TM.
Many translation agencies will wax lyrical about the importance of localising your translations, though none of them necessarily mean the same thing when using the term. In general, localisation means making a text culturally appropriate for the specific country you are targeting, considering the local culture and customs, rather than simply translating the words that are already on the page. Some translation providers will charge extra for this “additional service”, and this is what you should be aware of.
At Integro, we don’t really mention localisation, because it is simply a fact of doing our job properly- we don’t charge extra for it. I can’t really envisage a situation where we would translate into, say, Portuguese, without wanting to know what country the text is intended for and suggesting all of the possible adaptations and changes that could be suitable. As long as we understand who you are translating for and why, we needn’t consider localisation as an extra step in the process, it is simply part of the process.
This translating term is just as ridiculous as it might first appear. Put most simply, it means the letter “L” followed by 10 other letters before ending in “N”… which would equal localisation, in shorthand (or Lichtenstien, or Loganberries). I can’t hide how much I hate the word. If discussing localisation is important to you, no one would need to use shorthand, which means it is simply a way of someone showing off their knowledge, which is ridiculous, or R9S, if you’d prefer!
Many of the world’s translation providers boast on their websites about offering a “Turnkey solution”. The truth is that this term is not definitive, and doesn’t refer to a specific thing or concept. In fact, even after emailing a number of these different providers, asking them to clarify what their “Turnkey solution” is, the meaning is still no clearer.
This is a generic terms that refers to a translation that is not completed by a human, but instead by a computer. The most common that people are aware of is Google Translate, but there are a wide range of machine translation tools that are much more competent than that. It is possible that, one day, machine translations will become so accurate that human translation providers will have no real place in the world- at least the ones that aren’t offering an innovative service to their customers. However, for now, machine translations are still rife with problems and do not, by any means, achieve the same accurate and quality results as a human translation provider.
Interpretation and translation are not the same thing, but the words are frequently mixed up. Interpretation is a service provided by a human, facilitating a conversation between people who do not speak the same language. Interpretation can be provided both other the phone and in person, but should always be provided by a human. This is especially important due to the nuance of speech, and machines are unable to understand the nuance of accent and non-fluency features in unscripted, spontaneous speech. If you are paying for an interpreting service, whether it is over the phone or in person, the interpretation will be provided by a human.
It is easy to get lost in jargon that sounds convincing and professional, but it is important to be aware that these terms don’t necessarily equal a high quality service. Using words you don’t know doesn’t make people clever… at Integro we believe that clever people should be able to make themselves clearly understood. If your chosen translation provider does use any specialist terms, be sure to ask them for definitions and clarification of these terms in order that you can understand exactly the service you are paying for.