If you are not a part of the translation sector, you may not be familiar with some of the terms that are used. Here we try to demystify some of them with pithy explanations.


Terms used by Language Service Providers  (Companies providing translation and interpreting services).

A to C

  • Adaptation –when information is changed into a more appropriate forma/style for the target audience.
  • Back translation – this is a QA process, where crucial texts are back translated into the original language. The back-translated text is then compared to the original to check for accuracy and register.
  • Bilingual– mean that a linguist has the ability to communicate fluently in two languages.
  • CAT Tools – This is an acronym for computer-assisted translation (tools). These tools are used by human translators to facilitate the translation process. They save time and money for clients and assist consistency of terminology.
  • Certified translation – sometimes official documents require certified translation. This is appropriate for visa applications or births, deaths or marriages. The certificate verifies that a translation is true and accurate and has been performed by an expert linguist who is able to provide a certified translation.
  • Consistency – a measure of how often a term or phrase is translated in the same way in the target language.
  • Controlled language – language where the grammar, vocabulary and syntax are limited to reduce ambiguity. This approach is used to reduce the complexity of the language to make it easier to understand for native and non-native speakers. This is easier to translate and interpret (spoken translation) and is also easier for machines to understand.
  • Culturally sensitive content– interpretations and translations that have been slightly adjusted to suit the cultural and social standards of the target audience
  • Cultural adaptation – When a translation is tweaked to suit the target culture.