Industry Glossary

This glossary gladly serves to save you the hassle and embarrassment of asking your resident techno-geek for an overly convoluted explanation of any industry terms, by providing simple, jargon-free definitions of the terms below…

Term Translation


American Translators’ Association


Association of Translation Companies

Bi-directional (writing system)

Hebrew and Arabic are the only bi-directional writing systems in current use. Bi-directional is a writing system in which texts are generally right justified and most characters are written from right to left, but some text is written left-to-right as well.


Shortened from “weblog” – a web application which contains periodic time-stamped posts on a common webpage. Blogs may range from personal diaries to corporate news, media programs, political campaigns. Also these may be “owned” by one occasional author to large communities of “blogger”.


Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – a type of challenge-response test used in computing to ensure that the response is not generated by a computer. Answers: 42, qui


Computer Aided Translation – computer applications which assist humans in the act of translating text from one language to another.


A clean file is a file with no Trados (or other CAT tool software) tags, and which is not bilingual. In order to “clean up” a bilingual file (a .bak or a .ttx, for example), we run this file through Trados and click on “clean up”. Trados will remove the source text and tags, and put the target text into the original file in place of the source text. The end result is a normal file (Word, Excel, HTML file, etc) in the target language.


The group of Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages known as double-byte languages.


Content Mangement System – a system used to create, edit, manage and publish web content in a consistently organized manner.

Consecutive interpreting

Consecutive interpreting means that interpretation is done after each sentence. This is the most used and easy to set up, and also most commonly requested.


Cascading style sheet – an external format that determines the layout of tagged file formats such as HTML.

Double-byte languages

Some languages use twice as much memory because their characters are more complex and graphical than Roman characters types. These languages are Chinese, Japanese and Korean.


Desktop Publishing – using computers to lay out text and graphics for printing in magazines, newsletters, brochures, etc. Programmes include QuarkXpress and InDesign.


Abbreviation for a language group: French, Italian, German and Spanish.


File Transfer Protocol is a way of transferring data from one computer to another through a network such as the internet. Often used when files are too large to be attached to an email, such as high resolution PDFs.

Full Match

The translation memory (TM) tools calculate the degree of similarity in a text and provide it as a percentage figure. “Full-match” is a source text segment which corresponds exactly (100%) with a sentence beforehand stored in an existing TM.

Fuzzy Match

The translation memory (TM) tools calculate the degree of similarity in a text and provide it as a percentage figure. A situation when a sentence or phrase in a TM is similar, but is not a 100% match to the sentence or phrase currently being translated is known as fuzzy-match.


The Globalisation and Localisation Association (GALA, is a non-profit international association of companies providing translation, internationalisation, localisation, and globalisation products or services.


In the context of localisation, a glossary is a list of terms in a source language paired with a list of corresponding terms in a target language.


Globalisation Management System – a system that focuses on managing the translation and localisation process synchronising with the source content management system (CMS). Centralisation is achieved via usage of translation databases, different available glossaries and branding standards across content for translation.


A phonetic Japanese script in which all of the sounds of the Japanese language are represented by 50 syllables.


Stands for Hyper Text Mark-up Language – a mark-up language that uses tags to structure text into headings, paragraphs, lists and links. It ‘tells’ a web browser how to display text and images on a web page.

Ideographic Language

Japanese Kanji, Chinese Hanzi and Korean Hanja are examples of ideographic writing systems. These are written languages in which each character represents an idea or a concept, rather than pronunciation.

Internationalisation (I18N)

The process of generalising a product so that it can “service” multiple languages and cultural conventions without the need for redesign. In I18N, the common abbreviation for internationalisation, the 18 refers to the eighteen letters between the I and the N.

Interpretation vs Translation

Interpretation is facilitating oral and sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between two or more users of different languages. Whereas translation is the action of processing the meaning of a text and producing an equivalent text, also called a translation, that communicates the same message in another language. Simply put, translation is written, interpretation is spoken.


A general purpose computer language ideal for the Web, as Java can be run on most computers.


A Japanese script which originated in China. Around 13,000 Kanji characters exist, however these are not sufficient to write Japanese, therefore Hiragana characters are also used.


An angular phonetic Japanese language that renders the sounds of the Japanese language into 50 syllables. Katakana and Hiragana both render the same syllables, but Katakana is angular and largely used to spell words borrowed from other languages.


In simple terms, keywords are a selection of words which best sumise the content of your website. Web-Translations, for example, uses ‘translation, website translation, multilingual websites,’ and so on, as keywords. These are the words people wanting to find us on the internet would type into a search engine.

Language vs Dialect

A language, very briefly, is defined by country borders, demographics and history. In contrast, a dialect is a characteristic of a particular group of a language’s speakers: mostly used when referring to social class or regional speech patterns. For example, Portuguese is a language, of which European and Brazilian Portuguese are the dialects.

Localisation (L10N)

In L10N – the common abbreviation for localisation – the 10 refers to the ten letters between the L and the N. It is the process of adapting a product, software, website or brand for a specific language or culture, so that it seems natural to the particular region this language is spoken in. Common considerations include language, culture, customs, currencies, writing systems and other characteristics of the target region. While localisation often involves changes to the software’s writing system, it may also change the keyboard usage, fonts, date, time and monetary formats. Graphics, colours and sound effects also need to be culturally appropriate.


Adapting a product, software, website or brand for a specific international language or culture so that it seems natural to that region. Considerations include language, culture, customs, currencies and writing systems.


Machine Translation – computer technology which, using complex algorhythms, translates text from one human language into another. This isn’t accurate and should be used only to get the main idea of a text.


Literally, metadata is ‘data about data.’ As such, it is information hidden in the code of your web pages which describe the content and, in turn, allow search engines to categorise your website.


Microsoft platform for applications that work over the internet.

Open-source software

Any computer software distributed under a license which allows users to change and/or share the software freely. End-users have the right to modify and redistribute the software, as well as to package and sell the software.


Proofreading, in this realm, is having a second, native-speaking specialist translator check the work of the initial translator for spelling, grammar, formatting and terminology errors to ensure the best possible target text is achieved.

Right-to-left languages

Languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi and Urdu are written primarily right-to-left. Their text flow presents significant text and graphic layout implications.


Also known as reps, are units (phrases/sentences/words) which occur more than once throughout a translation. These are discounted when translation is being bought because, once a unit has been translated, Trados places it wherever else that unit occurs in the text.


Search Engine Optimisation – various techniques which are used to improve the search engine rankings of a website.


Search Engine Results Page – the list of web-pages returned in response to a keyword query on a search engine.

Simplified Chinese

A Chinese character-set used in mainland China and Singapore, which is modified to be written with fewer strokes per character.

Simultaneous interpreting

The most common situation with simultaneous interpreting requires interpreters, often working in teams of 2 or 3 in sound-proofed booths. The interpretation is usually delayed with a few seconds when interpreters speak into a microphone and the delegates listen through headsets.

Source Text

This is the text (either in a word document, web page, pdf, graphic, flash) you supply us with for translation.


This is the text we supply back to you, once it has been translated into the target language(s) that you requested.

Terminology Database

Is an organised record of standard translations of common terms. It allows the usage of standard terminology across clients’ globalisation projects, aiding in translation efficiency and consistency.

Terminology Database Entry

Or “term entry” – a collection of translations for one term or concept into one or more languages where one entry can have attributes logically applicable to all the terms. For example: a term entry might contain the Portuguese “porta”, the Spanish “puerta”, the English “door”, etc.

Terminology Manager

A computer technology – application tool that assists in the translation of text and terminology from one human language to another.

Translation Kit

A translation kit is a package of files made available for translation. The package includes all assets, terminology database data, and translation memory data needed to perform translation offline. A translation kit can be packaged into any of several formats, depending on the offline workbench to be used.


Translation Memory – a type of database that is used in software programs designed to aid human translators, a TM stores phrases, paragraphs or sentences which have been previously translated and regurgetates them when matched in a new text for translation.

Traditional Chinese

A Chinese character-set consistent with the original Chinese ideographic form that is several thousand years old. It is used everywhere except mainland China and Singapore.


Trados – is translation software used by freelancers.


To write/print a letter/word using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language.


A bilingual Trados file which matches source text units to target text units


Unicode – The Unicode Worldwide Character Standard is a character encoding standard used to represent text for computer processing. Originally designed to support 65,000 characters, it now has encoding forms to support more than 1,000,000 characters.


Voice over IP – basically means a phone line via the Internet which allows you to use internet for phone calls and have the same phone number wherever you are in the world.


Webex, Gatherplace, Online Meeting – a virtual meeting via the Internet, where participants can share PowerPoint presentations or any type of information on their computers via desktop sharing.


XML Localisation Interchange File Format (XLIFF) – is a file format specifically designed to support the localisation of data. It has features, among others, for updating strings, revision control, marking different phases of the localisation process, word count calculations, for provision of alternative or suggested language translations.


eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML) – is a programming language/specification which represents an international standard for the publication and delivery of electronic information, designed specifically for web documents

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