Glossary of translation terms

bilingual file – a file created by translation software which contains both the source and the target text. Also known as an xliff or (if produced by SDL Trados) an sdlxliff file
British English – English as it is spoken and written in the UK. It is of note that most English-speaking countries other than the USA use a spelling system which is closer to British spelling than to US spelling, however some words or phrases that exist in British English don’t exist in these other regions and vice versa.
CAT tools – computer assisted translation tools; see translation software
computer aided translation – see machine aided translation
computer assisted translation – see machine aided translation
computer assisted translation tools – see translation software
DTP – desktop publishing
MT – see machine translation
machine aided translation – Translations done by humans with the assistance of computer software (CAT tools)
machine translation – the translation of one language (e.g. German) to another (e.g. English) by computer. Google Translate is an example of machine translation. Not to be confused with “machine-aided translation” also known as “computer-aided translation”.
native speaker – there are varying definitions of “native speaker” and “native language”. In practical terms, it means the language you grew up speaking and in which you speak and write like people who grew up speaking only that language. Some people have more than one native language (for instance if they were brought up bilingually), but it is relatively rare for people to be brought up with two or more languages which they speak equally well. Usually one language is stronger than the other(s).
proofreader – a person who compares a translated document with its source text in order to ensure that everything has been translated correctly. The proofreader checks the translated text for errors in spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation and also for typos.
sdlxliff file – see bilingual file
source language – the language of the original document that is being translated (e.g. in a German into English translation, German is the source language)
source text – the source text is the text which is to be translated
standard line – a unit of measurement used in pricing translations. It comprises 55 characters with spaces. In Word, you can find the number of characters with spaces in a document by clicking the word Words in the bar along the bottom of the window. To find out how many characters are in a selected part of the document, select the text you’re interested in and then click Words. It is harder to find out the number of characters in a PowerPoint document without specialist software.
target language – the language of the translated document (e.g. in a German into English translation, English is the target language)
target text – the target text is the translated text
translation software – software used to improve the translation process, increasing speed and consistency. Examples of translation software include Trados, Trados Studio, MemoQ and Access.
US English – is the form of English spoken and written in the USA. It is of note that this differs from Canadian English on a number of fronts – most particularly in its spelling.
xliff file – see bilingual file