If you’re new to working with translators or other language professionals, the terminology and jargon can be confusing. We’re here to clear that up. We’ve summarised some key terms to help you understand the type of professional and service that suits your needs best.
Jump to the term you’re most interested in by using the following index. We’ve also included an asterisk (*) next to the services that TAGS can help you with:
Translating written texts from one language to another:
Checking a text for mistakes:
Writing subtitles for videos:
Adapting content to specific markets:
Search engine optimisation (SEO):
- SEO translation*
- Keyword research and localisation*
- Metadata localisation*
- Search engine advertising (SEA) localisation*
- Content optimisation*
Writing text from scratch:
Translation deals with the written word. If you have written texts in one language and would like to have them in another language, then translation is probably what you want. Translation prioritises being faithful to the source text. Some types of documents you may need to translate include instructions for use, catalogues, brochures, reports and website copy.
Interpreting deals with the spoken word. There are different types of interpreting, which suit different situations. The two main ones you’re likely to come across in the business world are consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting.
Consecutive interpreting involves listening, then interpreting. It’s ideal for meetings with clients that speak a different language. The interpreter will accompany you and repeat what you say (small fragments at a time) in the listener’s language. Then, they also do the same for you, i.e., repeat whatever the other participant says in your language.
Simultaneous interpreting involves interpreting while listening. It’s often used for events with a larger number of people. If done in person, the venue will need to have specific facilities in place, such as a booth and the appropriate recording and speaking devices. This type of service is usually provided by two different professionals that take turns repeating the speaker’s speech in the listener’s language. Depending on the number of languages spoken by the attendees, you may need several teams of interpreters. These days, with many events taking place online, remote simultaneous interpreting has become more common, with interpreters providing the same service via video conferencing software.
This type of service is used when you have an official document that needs to be translated and the entity or institution who will receive it requires it to be certified. This will vary from country to country. Depending on each country’s regulations, you may need to hire a sworn translator, i.e., someone that has been deemed fit to certify the translated document. Or you may need to have it notarised or certified in court or by a lawyer.
You’ve made a video and would like to add subtitles, either in the same language or in one or multiple different languages. A professional subtitler will create subtitles based on the audio, using specialist software, translating as they go if that’s what you need. There’s also a specific type of subtitling called Subtitling for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH), which includes non-dialogue information such as speaker identification and off-screen noises. If you can provide the video script, this will make your subtitler’s job easier.
App, software and website localisation*
This type of localisation involves making changes to software, an app or a website so that users in a particular market find it understandable and easy to use. This often includes translation, but doesn’t always. It involves changing things like currencies, payment options and contact information so that the app, website or software feels like it was created just for your target market.
Editing is an in-depth review of a text. It involves making changes to improve fluency and readability, as well as correcting typos and formatting issues. Editing doesn’t necessarily include a comparison to the source text (if it has been translated).
If you have a text that has already been translated and you would like to make sure it fully matches the original, then proofreading is probably what you want. You can also ask for this service as an additional step when requesting a translation. Most linguistic service providers will include a proofreading step after translation as a way of guaranteeing that the translated version is 100% correct. Ideally, this step will be performed by a second professional, to have the text read by a fresh set of eyes and, if need be, a specialist in the subject field. Proofreading of translations is sometimes referred to as ‘(bilingual) review’ or ‘(bilingual) revision’.
Also known as creative translation, transcreation is ideal for recreating your slogan or advertising campaign in another language. The transcreated text may end up being significantly different from the original, but it conveys the same message and has the same impact on your readers, impelling them to take action. In transcreation, the brief is prioritised over faithfulness to the source text.
Copywriting or content writing*
If you’d like to have someone create content from scratch, this is called copywriting or content writing. Website copy, newsletters, blog articles, social media posts, e-books and white papers are some types of text a content writer or copywriter can help you with.
The language pair is the set (and direction) of languages involved in a project. If you’d like to have a document translated from English into Portuguese, Spanish, French and German, this would involve four language pairs: English into Portuguese, English into Spanish, English into French and English into German.
The language in which your original text is written.
The language you want your text to be translated into. It’s important to consider the variants of each language, as there may be significant differences. For example, European and Brazilian Portuguese, UK and US English, Simplified and Traditional Chinese.
As we’ve mentioned before, many languages have different variants. Adaptation is the process of changing a text to make it suit a specific target country. For example, if you’re a UK company and you want to market your product both in Portugal and Brazil, you might get your key marketing materials translated into European Portuguese, and then adapted for the Brazilian market.
Transliteration is the process of transferring the letters, characters and words from the alphabet of one language to another. This is common when two alphabets or scripts are significantly different and is often used to help speakers understand how to pronounce a word or name from another language.
Transcription involves making a written copy of an audio file.
Desktop publishing (DTP)
This is the process of working on a document with graphic design tools in order to prepare it for printing or publishing. It concerns the formatting and layout rather than the content.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Search engine optimisation is the process of optimising a website – as well as all the content on that website – so it will appear in prominent positions in the organic results of search engines. It’s a combination of quality, optimised content and technical factors (on-page SEO) and marketing (off-page SEO). Quite a few services come under the SEO umbrella.
SEO translation involves translating your website content and blog posts using identified keywords in strategic places to help you rank higher in search results.
Keyword research and localisation*
Keyword research is about identifying the best terms to target for each individual piece of content (i.e., webpage or blog post). It involves researching the words users in a specific market type into search engines, and the volume and competition of these terms.
Keyword localisation is a similar process, but it involves translating keywords from one language to another (or from one language variant to another) and, crucially, identifying if the translated words are the best keywords to use for the target market. Because there may well be more appropriate alternatives with higher search volumes.
Metadata is information that’s stored in the backend of a website or content management system. It includes a meta title and a meta description, which appear on search results pages to help users understand what a page is about. Localising metadata is the process of translating and/or adapting the meta title and meta description so that it’s relevant to the target group of users, and is optimised with your keywords.
Search engine advertising (SEA) localisation*
Search engine ads are paid adverts that appear in search engines such as Google. The adverts are generally written by marketing or advertising professionals, and then localised for specific markets by translators, who of course also include specific keywords in their copy. SEA localisation will often involve keyword research and localisation, as well as localising and optimising the advert text.
Content optimisation involves editing previously created content to make it more SEO-friendly and include the targeted keywords in strategic places. It can include editing the metadata and the body text of a webpage, adding headings and subheadings, changing the structure or order of the content and adding internal or external links.
*These are the services that we can help you with here at TAGS. Feel free to get in touch with us to find out more.We hope you’ve found these definitions helpful. Find out how translation, transcreation, localisation and cultural knowledge can come together to help you create a website that will perform in your target market.