Glossary

A fair knowledge of both interpreting and translation terminology is useful to both junior and experienced interpreters and translators as well as to prospective clients.

A short description of the meaning is attached to each and every term.
You may find useful to quick-browse the glossary by clicking on terms or choose the language you prefer (use right links).


A B C D E F G H I L M N P S T V W

A language The interpreter’s dominant language, into which he or she is competent to interpret professionally. Usually, but not always, this is the interpreter’s native language.
Acoustic insulation A measure of the amount of noise transmitted from a conference room to an interpretation booth, from an interpretation booth to a conference room, and from one interpretation booth to another adjacent booth. The difference in sound pressure levels between an interpretation booth and the room where it is set up, or between two adjacent booths. The sound pressure levels are measured in octave bands, both in the booths and the room.
Active languages (1) The language(s) into which an interpreter is competent to interpret professionally. (2) The term is also used in meetings & conventions to mean the target languages into which interpreting is provided. For example, in a convention where all presentations are to be given in English and interpretation is provided into Spanish, French, and Russian, these three would be the active languages while English would be the passive language.
Advertising translator Although there are translators and companies that specialize in translating advertisements, the practice is not recommended. Advertising should not be translated, but rather adapted to the target language.
AIIC Commonly known by its French acronym, “aiic”, the International Association of Conference Interpreters is the only organisation that represents the interests of conference interpreters all over the world. Since being founded in 1953, its membership has grown and now numbers more than 2,800 conference interpreters in over 90 countries. The association is divided into what are known as “regions”. The association has a strict admissions procedure based on a peer review system, in which fellow interpreters who have been aiic members for five years or more “sponsor” the candidate. In addition to this procedure, which is intended to guarantee high-quality interpreting (involving the spoken word as opposed to translation of the written word) and professionalism, members are required to abide by the association’s Code of Ethics and its Professional Standards.
Audience Strictly speaking, in a meeting or convention, it refers to the listeners, or end users of an interpretation. However, it is commonly also used to refer to the readership, or end users, of a translation.
Audiovisual company A company that provides audiovisual equipment for meetings, conventions, and special events. Some of these companies may also rent interpretation equipment as a sideline. Since their main business is not interpretation, they neither have the expertise required to design the best simultaneous interpretation configuration, nor the best equipment for every job.
B language Language other than the interpreter‘s dominant language, in which he or she has native language competence and into which he or she is competent to interpret professionally. An interpreter may have one or more B languages.
Back translation A translation of a translation. It is a common misconception that the quality of a translation can be judged by having a second translator translate a translated text back into its source language. In fact, the opposite is true; the worse the translation, the closer the back translation will adhere to the original. The reason for this is that a bad translation normally follows very closely the wording of the original, but not the meaning. The best examples of this are the word-for-word translations produced by the different online machine translation tools, such as Babel Fish.
Background information Documentation relating to the subject matter of the source text for a translation (articles, books, manuals, etc. written on the subject), or the topic of discussion for an interpretation (copies of speeches from previous or similar conferences, etc.). Translators and interpreters need to make use of a great deal of background information in order to produce acceptable work.
Bid The translation of a bid is a complex process and must be managed as a multipart translation. Bids are typically made up of a technical bid (which requires a technical translator, a financial bid financial translator, as well as a contract and pertinent legislation legal translator.
Booth See Interpretation booth
Broker A translation or interpretation broker is a person that is not a qualified translator or interpreter and acts as middleman between freelancers, interpretation equipment companies, and clients. Usually, they “source out” freelance translators and interpreters from the many online directories and pay little for their services, while charging the client as much as, or more than, a reputable translation company would.
C language The source languages from which an interpreter is competent to interpret professionally. Interpreters may have several C languages.
Cancellation fee Percentage of the agreed full fee the interpreter is entitled to whenever a contract is canceled beyond the deadlines established in the contract.
CAT Tool Computer-assisted translation is a broad and imprecise term covering a range of tools, from the fairly simple to the more complicated. These can include Spell and Grammar checkers, Grammar checkers, Terminology managers, Terminology databases, Concordancers (applications that retrieve instances of a word or an expression and their respective context in a monolingual, bilingual or multiligual corpus or a translation memory), translation memory managers (tools consisting of a database of text segments in a source language and their translations in one or more target languages).
Certified court interpreter A person who has passed an examination to assess competency to interpret during court proceedings. Not to be confused with a legal interpreter, who is a highly qualified simultaneous interpreter with knowledge of comparative law and the legal systems of civil law countries and common law countries.
Certified translation A certified translation is one where the translator has signed an oath before a notary public certifying the accuracy and correctness of the translation, as well as the fact that he is qualified to make such a certification. In the US, there are no restrictions as to who can or cannot be a translator, anyone willing to swear that he or she is qualified to translate into and from a language pair can certify a translation. In other countries, certified translations require sworn translators.
Certified translator There is no such thing, contrary to the claims made by countless “certified translators” who advertise on the web and the yellow pages. As a matter of fact, for example, there is no official certification program for translators in the US. Next time someone claims to be a “certified translator,” ask who certified him.
Chief Interpreting Team Also known as chef d’equipe, he/she liaises between the interpreters and the conference organizers and delegates.
Civil law countries Countries where all law is created by the enactment of legislatures, as opposed to England and the United States (common law countries), where case law and precedents are an integral part of the legal system. It takes a highly skilled legal translator to translate legal documents from a civil law country into the language of a common law country and vice versa, since many of the legal concepts do not have exact parallels.
Code of ethics I endorse the AIIC Code of Ethics.
Coherence A difference exists between terminology coherence and sentence coherence, the first meaning translating a concept using the very same term in all occurences. Sentence coherence – on the other hand – is using the same sentence or group of sentences to translate the same concepts. Coherence is pivotal in technical texts since it increases readibility.
Common law countries The UK and the US, where case law and precedents are an integral part of the legal system, as opposed to civil law countries. It takes a highly skilled legal translator to translate legal documents from a civil law country into the language of a common law country and vice versa, since many of the legal concepts do not have exact parallels.
Computer translation Machine translation, sometimes referred to by the abbreviation MT, is a sub-field of computational linguistics that investigates the use of computer software to translate text or speech from one natural language to another. At its basic level, MT performs simple substitution of words in one natural language for words in another. Using corpus techniques, more complex translations may be attempted, allowing for better handling of differences in linguistic typology, phrase recognition, and translation of idioms, as well as the isolation of anomalies.
Computer-aided translation Another term for computer-assisted translation.
Computer-assisted translation Computer-assisted translation, or computer-aided translation, or CAT is a form of translation where a human translator translates texts using computer software designed to support and facilitate the translation process. Computer-assisted translation is sometimes called machine-assisted, or machine-aided translation. It uses CAT tools.
Conference interpretation Interpretation (oral translation of a speech) during a conference or convention. Although most conference interpretation is simultaneous interpretation, the two terms are not synonymous. Sometimes conferences may also involve consecutive interpretation.
Conference interpreter See interpreter.
Conference translator A person who translates written text intended for use during a conference, or generated during a conference (such as conference proceedings, etc.) Sometimes the term is erroneously applied to a conference interpreter.
Confidentiality For translators and interpreters, professional confidentiality is absolute. It goes into effect the moment the translator or interpreter is given access to the client’s information and remains in effect until his or her death. It applies in all cases, with no exceptions. Some countries have laws granting client-translator and client-interpreter confidentiality the same status as is enjoyed by physicians and lawyers.
Consecutive interpretation The process of orally translating speech into another language, after the speaker speaks. The interpreter listens and takes notes while the speaker talks and then delivers the interpretation while the speaker is silent. No equipment is used. Often used in business meetings, negotiations, and press conferences.
Consecutive interpreter An interpreter who listens while the speaker speaks and then interprets while the speaker pauses. The interpreter providing consecutive interpretation sits, either at the same table as the speaker, or at separate table, and speaks, either into the same microphone, or a separate microphone, so that everyone in the room can hear. The interpreter may take notes while he or she listens.
Consecutive interpreting See Consecutive interpretation.
Content Language conveys meaning through both, form and content, and they must both be transferred into parallel and equivalent language in order to produce a translation.
Court interpretation The process of providing interpretation in a court setting or during court-related proceedings, such as depositions.
Court interpreter An interpreter who provides interpretation in a court setting or during court-related proceedings, such as depositions. Court interpreters usually work for county, state, and federal/national courts, but may also work for attorneys. Not to be confused with legal interpreters, who typically provide interpretation for continuing legal education and bar association conferences, and have a much higher level of competence.
Dialect What constitutes a dialect and what to do about it is one of the most misunderstood concepts in translation, perhaps second only to the “native speaker” syndrome (the pernicious idea, promoted by some language schools, that being a native speaker qualifies a person to translate). Every major language has regional and class variations, but more importantly, every language also has clear standards and guidelines for correct and incorrect grammar and usage. Although there may be times when it is appropriate to write in a regional or class dialect (targeted advertising comes to mind), business communications (and this includes technical writings, contracts, legislation, financial statements, etc.) must always be written in standard language.
Dominant language This term has two distinct meanings: (1) the language of primary competence, the language that a person knows best, which may or may not be the person’s native language. For example, in the case of immigrants educated primarily (or exclusively) in the US or UK, although their native language may be other than English, their primary language competence is in English, not in their native language, or (2) the language spoken by the dominant class, the recognized standard of correct grammar and usage. Some examples would be “the King’s English,” “New York Times English”, the Spanish prescribed by the Real Academia, etc. The more usual term for this is standard language.
Earbud Earbuds are small, lightweight earphones that sit in the outer part of the ear.
Editing A thorough editing of your source text is one of the factors that can help to improve a translation. Above all: 1. Make sure your source text is clear and at the appropriate reading level. A translator cannot change your original; all he/she can do is translate it into its equivalent language. Remember: Garbage in, garbage out. 2. Avoid culture-specific metaphors and figures of speech. Spare your translator the task of searching for equivalent language to “step up to the plate”, “easy as pie”, and “good egg.” 3. Eliminate all word puns. Words do not translate; thoughts do.
Equipment The quality of a simultaneous interpretation depends largely on the quality of the equipment available to the interpreter. The quality of the booth, field of vision, headphones, microphones, sound quality, etc. are integral components of the simultaneous interpretation services.
Equipment company See Audiovisual company.
Equivalence The concept that translation or interpretation must strive to transfer meaning from one language to its equivalent in another, taking into consideration the class, culture, profession, etc. of both the source and the target text or speech.
Equivalent language The language of the equivalent time period and class or profession in the other language. For example, if the source text is an article published in a US medical journal, and the target language is Spanish, the equivalent language would be the language used in medical journal articles published in Spanish-speaking countries at around the same timeframe as the original.
Fixed booth A fixed booth is an interpretation booth that is built permanently into some conference centers, as opposed to a mobile booth, which can be assembled and disassembled and is set up in meeting rooms when needed. See also ISO Standards for Fixed Booths. Also referred to as Built-in booths.
FM interpretation equipment Interpretation equipment that transmits sound over FM radio frequencies. FM systems consist of a transmitter and a receiver. The advantages of FM interpretation systems are their ease of installation, reliability, and wide range. In cases where secrecy is desired, the wide range can be a disadvantage, as a person with a receiver tuned to the proper frequency can sometimes hear perfectly from as far away as 1000 yards or more, even from a different building. Radio frequency systems are also more susceptible to radio interference than IR systems.
Form Language conveys meaning through both, form and content, and they must both be transferred into parallel and equivalent language in order to produce a translation.
Formatting Also known as page layout, formatting is the part of graphic design that deals in the arrangement and style treatment of elements (content) on a page.
Freelance interpreter Self-employed interpreter, who works for a variety of clients on a per-meeting basis. Often specializes in one or more particular fields, such as legal, financial, medical, or technical.
Freelance translator Self-employed translator, who works for a variety of clients on a per-project basis. Often specializes in one or more particular fields, such as legal, financial, medical, or technical.
Full board Accommodation and food expenses covered by the client when interpreters/translators are required on the job overnight.
Globalization In the context of translation, it refers to the process of adapting products or services to the global market. It can include redesigning technical specifications, packaging, labels, etc. to conform to the legal & regulatory requirements of the target countries. It can also refer to the legal, regulatory, and technical changes put into effect by countries in an effort to adapt themselves to the requirements of their trade partners.
Glossary Glossaries are essential tools for translators, but must never be considered substitutes for translating competence. A good glossary will make a good translator better, but it is of little help to a poor translator. Glossaries should be generated by the translators or translation companies, sometimes with the assistance of the client.
Headphone see Headset
Headset Any of various types of participants’ headset-receiver sets. Sometimes the term “headset” is used to refer to headphones or earphones. A headphone or earphone needs to be connected to a receiver in order for the participant to be able to tune in to the proper channel and hear the interpretation.
Hybridization (1) The assimilation of foreign terms into a language. (2) The intermingling of the legal systems of common law and civil law countries as a consequence of globalization.
Idiomatic translation A translation that conveys the meaning of the original, or source text, by using equivalent language and the forms and structures of the target language, in order to produce a translation that reads like an original.
Infrared interpretation equipment Interpretation equipment that uses infrared emissions to transmit sound. Infrared systems require an emitter, a modulator, and receivers. They are less susceptible to radio interference than FM systems, but they require a clear line of sight between the transmitter and the receiver and are very susceptible to light. They are recommended for meetings where secrecy is important, as the interpretation cannot be heard outside of the emitter’s well-defined radiation pattern.
Internationalization In the context of translation, it refers to the process of adapting products or services to the international market. It can include redesigning technical specifications, packaging, labels, etc. to conform to the legal & regulatory requirements of the target countries. Sometimes the term is used to refer to the process of designing and producing products and services which are as culturally and technically neutral as possible, so that they can be easily marketed worldwide. See Localization.
Interpretation The oral translation of spoken language. Interpretation can be simultaneous (at the same time and same rate of speech as the speaker) or consecutive (the speaker speaks, then pauses while the interpreter interprets, then speaks again) or whispered (a simultaneaous interpretation without technical equipment support).
Interpretation booth Interpretation booths are divided into fixed, which are built into some conference rooms, and mobile, which are set up and dismantled wherever needed, typically in hotels and convention centers. There can be huge differences in the quality of mobile booths. While some companies do have booths that comply with ISO 4043, often what passes for a booth is nothing more than a flimsy shield that affords almost no sound insulation.
Interpretation broker A person who is not an interpreter, but acts as middleman between clients, freelancers, and equipment companies. Interpretation brokers normally subcontract interpretation by bits and pieces to the lowest bidder and has little or no knowledge of how all the pieces fit together.
Interpretation equipment Equipment used in simultaneous interpretation. Simultaneous interpreting requires (1) appropriate equipment for the interpreters. This includes, at a minimum interpreters headphones, microphones, amplifiers, control consoles, and a booth (fixed or mobile) that meets ISO standards of sound insulation, dimensions, air quality, and accessibility. It may also include risers, video monitors, and other equipment, depending on the venue or application; and (2) appropriate equipment for the participants. This includes transmitters, receivers, headphones or earphones, and any other equipment required by the venue or particular application.
Interpretation equipment company See Audiovisual company
Interpretation team A simultaneous interpretation team is made up of two, or sometimes three interpreters, depending on the language and various other factors. The essential qualities of an interpretation team are competence, teamwork, and mutual assistance. Since members must complement one another’s skills, the selection of team members is extremely important and must be based on a thorough knowledge of each member’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as of the specific demands of the subject matter and target audience of the meeting.
Interpreter A person who translates spoken language orally, as opposed to a translator, who translates written language
Interpreter booth See Interpretation booth.
Interpreter console Any of a number of different devices used by simultaneous interpreters to control the interpreter’s microphone and headphones. As a minimum, an interpreter console must include a volume control for the interpreter’s headphones, a switch to turn the microphone on and off, and a mute or cough button that the interpreter can press to turn off the microphone momentarily.
Interpreter equipment Equipment used by the interpreters, as opposed to the equipment used by the participants. This includes, interpreters’ headphones, microphones, amplifiers,control consoles, and a booth (fixed or mobile) that meets ISO standards of sound insulation, dimensions, air quality, and accessibility. It may also include risers, video monitors, and other equipment, depending on the venue or application.
Interpreter neutrality The concept that establishes that the interpreter’s job is to convey the meaning of the speaker’s discourse and under no circumstances may he or she allow personal opinion to tinge the interpretation.
Interpreting See interpretation.
ISO The International Organization for Standardization (Organisation internationale de normalisation), widely known as ISO, is an international-standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on 23 February 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary industrial and commercial standards.
ISO Standards Standards defined by the International Organization for Standardization, which are named as ISO + a number. The work of preparing International standards is normally carried out through ISO technical committees. each member body interested in a subject for which a technical committee has been established has the right to be represented on that committee. International organizations, governmental and non-governmental, in liaison with ISO, also take part in the work. Draft International Standards adopted by the technical committees are circulated to the member bodies for voting. Publication as an International Standard requires approval by at least 75% of the member bodies casting a vote.
ISO Standards for Fixed Booths These standards are set forth in ISO 2603-Fixed booths for simultaneous interpretation. ISO 2603 was first issued in 1974 and revised in 1983 and 1998, and evaluated by the technical committees of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) and the Joint Service Interpretation-Conferences (JSIC) of the European Commission (EU). Source: International Organization for Standardization, AIIC.
ISO Standards for Mobile Booths Are set forth in ISO 4043-Mobile booths for simultaneous interpretation. This standard was prepared at the request of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) and the Joint Service Interpretation-Conferences (JSIC) of the European Commission (EU). Its purpose is to define optimal conditions for simultaneous interpretation using mobile booths. It adapts ISO 2603 to booths that must be set up and dismantled in facilities not equipped with fixed booths. Source: International Organization for Standardization, AIIC.
Language combination (1) The languages a translator translates from and into. (2) The source language and target languages of a translation or interpretation. (3) The languages interpreters work into (active languages) and from passive language during an interpretation.
Language competence The ability to read, write, and speak a language at the level of a college-educated native speaker. Although language competence is a basic requirement of translation competence, it is not a criterion for judging a person’s ability to translate. Translation competence requires much more than simple language competence.
Language pair (1) The two languages a translator or interpreter translates from and into. (2) The source language and target language of a translation or interpretation. (3) The two languages an interpreter works into (active languages) and from (passive language) during a given interpretation. See also language combination.
Language school A business set up for the purpose of teaching foreign languages. Many language schools profit from the popular misconception that being fluent in or a native speaker of a language qualifies a person to translate. Language schools usually offer the lowest quality translations.
Legal interpretation Interpretation of speeches at continuing legal education seminars, bar association conventions, etc. Not to be confused with court interpretation.
Legal interpreter A legal interpreter is not to be confused with a court interpreter. Legal interpreters are highly skilled interpreters with an extensive knowledge of comparative law who interpret at continuing legal education seminars, bar association conventions, etc.
Legal translation The translation of legal documents such as contracts, legislation, etc.
Legal translator A translator with extensive knowledge of comparative law who specializes in international contracts, licenses, franchises, legislation, and other international legal documents. It takes a highly skilled legal translator to translate legal documents from a civil law country into the language of a common law country and vice versa, since many of the legal concepts do not have exact parallels.
Liaison interpreting Liaison interpreting involves relaying what is spoken to one, between two, or among many people. This can be done after a short speech, or consecutively, sentence-by-sentence, or as chuchotage (whispering); aside from note taken then, no equipment is used.
Literal translation Translation that closely follows the form of the source text. Because language derives a great deal of meaning from its form, a literal translation distorts meaning and often reads as nonsense.
Literary translator A translator who specializes in the translation of fiction, such as novels and poetry.
Localization One of the most overused words of the last few years. In the context of translation, it usually refers to the process of adapting software to the specific language, technical standards, laws, and requirements of the target market, as for example, translating screen texts, help files, etc.
Machine translation Machine translation, sometimes referred to by the abbreviation MT, is a sub-field of computational linguistics that investigates the use of computer software to translate text or speech from one natural language to another. At its basic level, MT performs simple substitution of words in one natural language for words in another. Using corpus techniques, more complex translations may be attempted, allowing for better handling of differences in linguistic typology, phrase recognition, and translation of idioms, as well as the isolation of anomalies.
Medical interpretation Interpretation during medical conventions, continuing medical education seminars, medical equipment demonstrations, teaching of new surgical procedures, etc.
Medical interpreter A highly skilled interpreter with knowledge of medical procedures and specialties, who interprets during medical conventions, continuing medical education seminars, medical equipment demonstrations, teaching of new surgical procedures, etc. Not to be confused with health care interpreters, who interpret for patients during consultations with health care personnel.
Medical translation Translation of medical texts, such as research, medical devices, medical equipment manuals, books, patents, etc.
Medical translator A translator who specializes in the translation of medical texts, such as research, medical devices, medical equipment manuals, books, patents, etc.
Mobile booth A mobile booth is an interpreting booth that can be assembled and disassembled and which is set up in meeting rooms when needed, as opposed to a fixed booth, which is built permanently into some conference centers.
Mobile simultaneous interpreting Interpretation using a small wireless transmitter. The interpreter whispers into a microphone attached to the transmitter and the participants listen through headphones attached to receivers. The advantage of this system is that it is mobile and can handle more participants than whisper interpretation. The disadvantages, as for whisper interpretation, are that it does not permit sound isolation or amplification, and it is very taxing for the interpreter. It is designed for touring trade shows, factories, plants, etc. It can also be used for brief presentations, press conferences, etc. See also simultaneous interpreting without a booth.
Mother tongue see Native language.
Native language The first language learned by a person, which may or may not be the person’s dominant language or language of primary competence. Native speakers can have a grossly inadequate knowledge of their native language, particularly when they have been brought up and educated in a country where a language other than their native language is spoken.
Native language competence Oral and written command of a language equivalent to that of a person born, educated, and living in the country where that language is spoken.
Native speaker A person who speaks the first language he or she learned, which may or may not be the person’s dominant language or language of primary competence. Native speakers can have a grossly inadequate knowledge of their native language, depending on their education and the country where that education was obtained. For example, a person born in Mexico who immigrated to the United States as a child and received all his education here, is a native speaker of Spanish but will have a very limited knowledge of that language; his dominant language will be English.
Neutrality In the context of translation, it refers to the concept that establishes that the translator’s or interpreter’s job is to convey the meaning of the source text or speaker’s discourse, and under no circumstances may he or she allow personal opinion to tinge the translation or interpretation.
Non-working day The term non-working days is used to refer to a day on which the interpreter does not work, but which is part of a contract and therefore entitles the interpreter to payment. This system is used in particular when the same recruiting organisation needs the interpreter for several successive sessions separated by one or more non-working days.
Note-taking Note-taking is an essential element of consecutive interpreting. It consists of noting on paper the logic and structure of a speech in order to help the interpreter remember the contents of the speech. Note-taking is a singularly individual exercise: some interpreters use a lot of symbols, while others prefer drawings and still others restrict themselves to certain words. The amount of detail noted down also varies considerably, as does the choice of notepad, the language in which the notes are taken, etc.
Passive languages The languages from which an interpreter is competent to interpret professionally. The term is also used in meetings & conventions to mean the languages from which interpreting is provided. For example, in a meeting where all presentations are given in English and interpretation is provided into Spanish, French, and Russian, English is the passive language and Spanish, French, and Russian the active languages.
Per-word rate Industry standard for assessing cost of a translation. The per-word rate can be quoted based on the source word count (original text) or the target word count (translated text). Since there can be enormous differences in source and target word counts, depending on the languages involved, when comparing estimates for a translation be sure that the per-word rates you are comparing specify either source or target text.
Project Manager (1) In a translation company, this is the person responsible for total translation project management. (2) In international companies, this title is sometimes given to the person who supervises in-house translators, hires freelancers, and manages translations.
Proofreading When typesetting a translated text, it is advisable to let the translator who performed the translation proofread the typeset document, especially when the text is written in a language foreign to the typesetter.
Receiver A radio receiver or infrared receiver used to tune into the interpretation. They are just like small pocket radios, except that they are wired to operate only in the specific frequencies assigned to the interpretation equipment. In order to hear, the interpreters’ equipment must be operational and a headphone or earphone must be plugged into the receiver.
Relay In simultaneous interpretation, this refers to interpreting from an interpretation, not directly from the speaker, and it is used when an interpreter does not know the language of the speaker. This is how it works: The first interpreter interprets into his target language. The second interpreter listens to the first interpreter and interprets into her target language. Relay harms quality, increases the risk of errors, and slows down the interpretation. For this reason, except in the case of rare languages, simultaneous interpreters hired for a meeting or convention must be able to interpret from all of its source languages.
Revising Reading a text to identify errors, inconsistencies, incorrect grammar and punctuation, poor or inappropriate style, and, in the case of a translation, conformance with the source text, and making appropriate changes and corrections to the text. In general, the number of revision stages is proportional to the demands on the text quality: a translation intended for publication may, for example, be revised by the translator and by one or two third parties (e.g. the author, a subject expert, a second translator, an editor), whereas an internal memo may not require any revision after translation. (What exactly revising and editing entail and how they differ is the subject of much debate. What is important is that the person commissioning the work communicates clearly what is expected of the editor.)
Sight translation The oral translation of a text. One example would be when a consecutive interpreter at a press conference is handed a prepared statement in English and asked to read it aloud, in the target language.
Simultaneous interpretation In simultaneous interpretation (SI), the interpreter renders the message in the target language as quickly as he or she can formulate it from the source language, while the source-language speaker continuously speaks; sitting in a sound-proof booth, the SI interpreter speaks into a microphone, while clearly seeing and hearing the source-language speaker via earphones. The simultaneous interpretation is rendered to the target-language listeners via their earphones. Moreover, SI is the common mode used by sign language interpreters. NOTE: Laymen often incorrectly describe SI and the SI interpreter as ‘simultaneous translation‘ and as the ‘simultaneous translator‘, ignoring the definite distinction between interpretation and translation.
Simultaneous interpretation equipment Simultaneous interpreting requires (1) appropriate equipment for the interpreters. This includes, at a minimum interpreters headphones, microphones, amplifiers, control consoles, and a booth (fixed or mobile) that meets ISO standards of sound insulation, dimensions, air quality, and accessibility. It may also include risers, video monitors, and other equipment, depending on the venue or application; and (2) appropriate equipment for the participants. This includes transmitters, receivers, headphones or earphones, and any other equipment required by the venue or particular application.
Simultaneous interpretation team A simultaneous interpretation team is made up of two, or sometimes three interpreters, depending on the language and various other factors. The essential qualities of an interpretation team are competence, teamwork, and mutual assistance. Since members must complement one another’s skills, the selection of team members is extremely important and must be based on a thorough knowledge of each member’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as of the specific demands of the subject matter and target audience of the meeting.
Simultaneous interpreter A person who translates speech orally into another language at the same time and at the same rate of speech as the speaker. Simultaneous interpreters must have, not only simultaneous interpreting competence (training, skill, and experience in interpreting from the source to the target language), but also a thorough knowledge of the source material in both the source and target languages.
Simultaneous interpreting See Simultaneous interpretation.
Simultaneous interpreting without a booth There are some situations and venues where simultaneous interpretation can be done without a booth. Depending on the needs of the meeting, we may use tabletop transmitters or wireless transmitters. The most common examples of simultaneous interpreting without a booth are (1) site visits, trade shows, factory tours, poster sessions, etc. where the participants and interpreters are on the move, or (2) brief meetings (for example, lunch or dinner speeches), or (3) small meetings with ten or fewer participants (for example, board of directors or committee meetings). Since working without a booth is much more strenuous for interpreters, the same requirements as for a simultaneous interpretation team apply.
Simultaneous translation There is no such thing. A translation is done in writing; an interpretation orally.
Simultaneous translation equipment There is no such thing. This term is often used by interpretation brokers and equipment companies who, apparently, don’t know the difference between translation and interpretation.
Simultaneous translator There is no such thing. A translator translates written text, in writing; an interpreter translates speech, orally.
Sound The level and quality of sound is crucial for good simultaneous interpretation. Not only must all participants hear the interpreters clearly over their headphones, but also interpreters need to receive an even higher sound quality through their headphones than listeners, since they are speaking at the same time they are listening.
Sound insulation See Acoustic insulation.
Soundproof booth Although no mobile booth is truly soundproof, the term is commonly used to refer to an interpretation booth that complies with ISO 4043 requirements for sound insulation.
Source language Language in which a text to be translated is written, or in which a speech to be interpreted is spoken. The language of the original text or speech.
Source text The text to be translated. The original text, as opposed to the translated text.
Speech and language pathology Speech-language pathology is the study of disorders that affect a person’s speech, language, cognition, voice, swallowing (dysphagia) and the rehabilitative or corrective treatment of physical and/or cognitive deficits/disorders resulting in difficulty with communication and/or swallowing.
Standard language See Dominant language.
Style guide A style guide or style manual is a set of standards for design and writing of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication or organization. Style guides are prevalent for general and specialized use, for the general reading and writing audience, and for students and scholars of the various academic disciplines, medicine, journalism, the law, government, business, and industry.
Sworn translator In some countries, a sworn translator is a certified translator accredited to translate court documents.
Target audience Strictly speaking, the end users of interpretation services, although it is also commonly used to refer to the end users of translation services, or target readership. Knowing the target audience and how it uses language is a crucial and essential component of the interpretation process.
Target country The country where the translation will be used.
Target language Language into which a text is translated or a speech interpreted.
Target readership The end users of translation services, for example engineers, executives, physicians, etc. Knowing the target readership and how it uses language is a crucial and essential component of a translation.
Target text The translation. The end result of the translation process.
Technical interpretation Interpretation of technical speeches, usually during meetings and conventions dealing with topics in the fields of engineering, telecommunications, avionics, etc.
Technical interpreter An interpreter with training, knowledge, and experience in the interpretation of technical speeches, usually during meetings and conventions dealing with topics in the fields of engineering, telecommunications, avionics, etc.
Technical translation The translation of technical materials such as research, patents, user’s manuals, repair manuals, etc.
Technical translator A translator with training, knowledge, and experience in a particular technical field, such as engineering, chemicals, electronics, etc.
Technician Interpretation technicians are a very important part of the interpretation services. They set up and maintain the interpreters’ equipment and distribute and maintain the receivers used by the participants.
Terminology management Terminology management is primarily concerned with manipulating terminological resources for specific purposes, e.g., establishing repertories of terminological resources for publishing dictionaries, maintaining terminology databases, or ad hoc problem solving in finding multilingual equivalences in translation work or creating new terms in technical writing.
Terminology mining Terminology mining is a major step forward in terminology extraction and covers acquisition and structuring of the candidate terms. In terminology mining, references are made to the acquisition of complex terms, the discovering of new terms, but also, the structuring of the acquired candidate terms. First, the linguistic specifications of terms are given for a languge and then a typology of base-terms and their variations is assessed. Second, computational methods are implemented: shallow parsing, morphological analysis, morphological rule learning and lexical statistics. Third, the mining system identifies base terms and their variations.
Text type The classification, the “what” of the text. Is it a training manual, a contract, a patient information brochure?
Tour guide systems Wireless transmitters are also used by tour guides, who very properly call them tour guide systems. They consist of a wireless transmitter and receivers.
Transcription The transformation of the audio feed in tapes, CDs, DVDs etc. into readable text, e.g. in the case of witness hearings in courts.
Translation The process of transferring the meaning of a written text from one language into its equivalent language in another. The process of crafting language to create parallel and equivalent mental structures. The question for the translator is not “how do you say that in…?”, but, rather, “how would it have been said, had it been said originally in…?
Translating competence Ability to perform a correct translation of a written text from the source language into the target language.
Translation agency As the term is used, it may mean anything from a one-person operation to a large company, but it usually refers to a business that provides translation services by subcontracting work to freelancers.
Translation broker A person who is not a translator or interpreter, but acts as middleman between clients and freelance translators, interpreters, and interpretation equipment companies.
Translation equipment Properly speaking, it refers to the computers and software used by translators, be it human or machine. However, the term is often used by interpretation brokers and equipment companies to refer to interpretation equipment, since they often don’t know the difference between translation and interpretation.
Translation Manager In international companies, this title is sometimes given to the person who supervises in-house translators, hires freelancers, and manages translations.
Translation memory A database that stores segments that have been previously translated. A translation-memory system stores the words, phrases and paragraphs that have already been translated and aid human translators. The translation memory stores the source text and its corresponding translation in language pairs called “translation units”.
Translation Project Manager In a translation company, this is the person responsible for total translation project management.
Translation style Translations should reflect the style of the source text, whether scholarly, informal, slang, etc.
Translator A person who transfers the meaning of written text from one language into another. The person who translates orally is not a translator, but an interpreter.
Translator equipment Properly speaking, it refers to the computers and software used by translators, be it human or machine.
Translator neutrality The concept that establishes that the translator’s job is to convey the meaning of the source text and under no circumstances may he or she allow personal opinion to tinge the translation.
Transmitter A radio or infrared transmitter operating over an assigned frequency that transmits the interpreter‘s voice to a defined range, permitting the participants to tune their receivers and hear the interpreter
Videoconference/
Videoconferencing
Videoconferencing, where participants are at several different venues and use telecommunications for remote access, have become very popular. Simultaneous interpreting at videoconferences requires a high quality of sound and video reception, in order for the interpreters to be able to see and hear the speakers as if they were in the same room.
Visibility Interpreters need to see the speakers, the meeting room and, in particular, the screens used during a conference. Indeed, body language and gestures are an integral part of any discourse and need to be taken in by the interpreter in order to fully understand a speaker. The reaction of an audience, the expressions on participants’ faces, the goings and comings in the room, are all part of the message the interpreter needs for his/her job. This is why the location of the booths is so important. They must be placed so that the interpreters, from their seats, can see the rostrum, the speakers, the screens and as much as possible of the room.
Voiceover In a film or video, it refers to a voice off camera. The translation of a voice over requires (1) translating the script (done by translators), and (2) recording the voiceover (done by actors).
Whisper interpretation Simultaneous interpreting without the use of interpretation equipment, where the interpreter sits close to the listener and whispers the interpretation. Whispering is not recommended when there are more than two listeners or more than two interpreters working at the same time in the same room. Whispering requires a team of two interpreters and, since it is extremely taxing and hard on the vocal chords, it is only appropriate for very brief one-on-one meetings. See also simultaneous interpreting without a booth.
Whispering interpreting See Whisper interpretation.
Wireless interpretation equipment Although, strictly speaking, this describes all interpretation equipment that is operated by batteries, a distinction must be made between (1) interpreter‘s wireless equipment, which consists of a battery-operated transmitter and is used in wireless interpreting, and (2) participants’ wireless equipment, which consists of wireless receivers. Nowadays, all participants’ receivers are wireless, except in some of the older fixed installations.
Wireless interpreting Another term for mobile simultaneous interpreting. Interpretation using a small wireless transmitter used for mobile simultaneous interpreting. The interpreter whispers into a microphone attached to the transmitter and the participants listen through headphones attached to receivers. The advantage of this system is that it is mobile and can handle more participants than whispering interpretation. The disadvantages, as for whispering interpretation, are that it does not permit sound insulation or amplification, and it is very taxing for the interpreter. It is designed for touring trade shows, factories, plants, etc. It can also be used for brief presentations, press conferences, etc. See also simultaneous interpreting without a booth.
Wireless receiver A radio or infrared receiver used to tune into the interpretation. They are just like small pocket radios, except that they are wired to operate only in the specific frequencies assigned to the interpretation equipment. In order to hear, the interpreters’ equipment must be operational and a headphone or earphone must be plugged into the receiver.
Wireless transmitter A small battery-operated transmitter used for mobile simultaneous interpreting. It is the same size as a receiver (about the size of a pack of cards) and fits easily into a pocket.
Word count A standard measure of the size of an original or a translated text. In the UK and US, translation projects are normally priced on the number of words of the target text, but sometimes they can be priced on the original. Since word count can vary enormously between languages, it is crucial to specify whether the per-word rate being quoted refers to the source or target language.
Word-for-word translation Translation that closely follows every word in a source text. A word-for-word translation usually reads like nonsense, but at times it can be quite amusing. A good example is machine translations.
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