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Authoritative Terminology Research

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The translation industry (translators, customers, researchers, translation companies, translation agencies, software and hardware developers, business and professional associations, transcribers, subtitlers, etc.) use a specific jargon which is not easily understood by customers. Furthermore, some players in the industry have a different understanding or don’t agree on the meaning or what should be included in many terms. At the end of this glossary I list the main references used, together with my own experience, for defining each term.


A language
Classification of working languages of translators and interpreters where A represents the strongest, dominant or primary language of a translator and which he masters with competence, proficiency or perfect command. Usually, this refers to the person’s native language or an equivalent. A complete bilingual can have a double A.
Spanish: idioma A

Etymologically “accreditation” means to “grant recognition of compliance with official requirements or a standard (an accrediting body) or grant official credentials that should be recognized by other parties. In general it is the process for evaluating this compliance. Once the person or organization’s compliance has been accredited a certificate is issued. This certificate is proof of accreditation; it validates the authenticity of the facts which have been accredited. In the case of translation organisations (Agencies and companies) these standards cover management, quality assurance and translating procedures evaluated by the institutions that manage those standards. In the case of individual translators this accreditation covers language competence and translation competence and it is evaluated by a variety of organisations and with a variety of methods, including tests, background checks, proof of translating work, etc. The process of accreditation, its requirements, procedures, seriousness, transparency and presence or absence of corporate, political and commercial interests, defines its reputation and value. In translation, both terms, “Accreditation” and “Certification”, are used as if they meant the same. In some countries there is the preference to speak of “Accredited Translators”, in others the preference is “Certified Translators”, and in others both terms are used to convey the same meaning. Translation or language programs are equivalent to an accreditation process (which includes teaching) and the degree is equivalent to the “Certificate” (although with many translators’ programs one might prefer to replace “are” and “is” with “should be”). Other similar terms are “License” and “Authorisation”. Synonym: Certification.
Spanish: acreditación, certificación

Accredited translator
A translator who has received accreditation from an accrediting body. Accrediting bodies can be Universities, translators’ associations, Government entities, and private businesses. The institution that performs the accreditation, its reputation, is paramount for the value of its accreditation. “Licensed” and “Authorised” translators are those allowed to work in a location although they may not be “accredited” or “certified”. Synonym: Certified Translator
Spanish: traductor acreditado, traductor certificado

Active language
The target language or languages into which a translator or interpreter is capable of providing professional translation or interpretation, with the condition of proficiency or perfect command of the language. Active languages are divided into two categories: A language (main or dominant language) and B language (the second language of a translator). See Native Language, Near-native Proficiency.
Spanish: idioma activo

Recasting a text in a new form or modifying it to make it suitable for a different purpose, readership, culture, country or region. Etymologically the word adaptation is a two way route in translation (adaptation to the global or to the local), however it usually is considered a synonym of localisation (a one way route). Many marketing texts and advertisements should be adapted or transcreated when translating to other languages or variants, or they may be rendered useless or damaging. Preferably, advertisements should be translated in the target country with advice from a local advertising agency. Texts with extensive regional or culture-specific jargon must also undergo adaptation or transcreation to avoid misunderstandings. Synonym: localisation, transcreation. Although some consider these three terms as synonymous, others state that adaptation and localisation imply formal changes while the message and context are retained unchanged, but on the other hand transcreation can imply a change in the context and only retains its essence. The case of Marvel Comics “Spiderman” for the Indian market that featured an Indian born spiderman fighting Rahshasa in the Taj Mahal is a clear case of transcreation.
Spanish: adaptación, localización, transcreación

Aligned segments
Segments of text in one language are aligned with corresponding segments in another language. Synonyms: aligned texts, aligned segments, source and target text in two columns, parallel corpora.
Spanish: segmentos alineados

Aligned texts
Segments of text in one language are aligned with corresponding segments in another language. Synonyms: aligned texts, aligned segments, source and target text in two columns, parallel corpora.
Spanish: textos alineados

Aligning the segments (paragraphs, sentences) of source and target text of a translation in two columns so that equivalent segments are side by side.
Spanish: alineación, alineamiento

When a word or sentence can have two or more meanings. Usually ambiguity can be resolved by correctly understanding the context, or it can be resolved further down the text. In some cases it cannot be resolved without asking the author, and sometimes ambiguity is set in place on purpose.
Spanish: ambigüedad

A document that certifies public documents for international recognition just like notarisation is in domestic law. To be eligible for an apostille, a document must first be issued or certified by an officer recognised by the authority that will issue the apostille.
Spanish: apostilla

Automatic translation
Another term for machine translation.
Spanish: traducción automática


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Traductor Chileno
Traducciones Traductor Español
Traductor Independiente Inglés-Español-Inglés con más de 41años de experiencia
Negocios, Finanzas; Medio Ambiente; Ingeniería; Construcción.
Desde 1972

Chilean Translator
Translations Spanish Translator
English-Spanish-English freelance translator with over 41 years of experience
Business and Finance; Environment; Engineering; Building.
Since 1972