Translation and Language Services Terminology Guide – Part 1

Within every industry there’s specific terminology used to describe or name services or technical procedures which, to newcomers or those unfamiliar with the industry, can be confusing. This is especially true within the translation industry where acronyms are used in abundance!

To make sure our clients fully understand the terminology and services available to them we have designed this 2-part guide.

Part 1 gives an overview of language and translation with an easy-to-follow description of classifications linked to translators, the languages they speak and translation services available.

Part 2 is an in-depth glossary, in an A-Z format, linked to translation terminology and technology. It is helpful for those who are looking to use translation services or those who would like to know more about a particular service.

Language, Translation and Culture

Translation isn’t just about language – it is also about culture.

Languages are shaped over thousands of years by the culture within which they formed, and are an ever-changing entity which grows, adapts and alters based upon external influences such as, technology, the movement of people, nature, and historical factors.

The link between culture and language is well-proven and should not be downplayed – both of these factors shape us into communities, regions and nations. They help to give us a sense of identity and belonging.

For translators, this link can pose a problem.

In order to adapt an idea, concept or message from one language to another, you must not only understand the words (or language) but also the context (or culture).

A translator or linguist who is not up-to-date with the predominant culture linked to a specific language, would, most likely, not provide a totally accurate translation.

Factors such as, humour, colloquial phrases, idioms, and so on, are all linked to our language and our culture.

For example, an Arabic-speaking individual, who has never travelled to the UK, is not likely to fully grasp the meaning of the typically English phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” so a translator would need to understand the meaning behind the words in order to give an adequate and relatable translation.



Language Classification

The ability to interpret one language, then translate it into another with a high degree of accuracy, is a skill which takes time, training, and patience. Most translators choose just two or three languages to specialise in, as becoming an expert translator can take many years.

When a translator, or interpreter, is ‘fluent’ in a language they are able to think, speak, and interact with a language, and the culture, at speed, and with a high degree of accuracy. This is called an ‘active’ language.

Those languages which the interpreter can understand, but not speak so fluently, are classed as a ‘passive’ language.

For instance, an interpreter who can speak fluent Arabic and English would list those as their ‘active’ languages, but may also have French and Spanish as ‘passive’ languages.

For interpreters, who need to be able to translate at high speed, often in tense, formal situations such as, a conference, the ability to offer precise, simultaneous interpretations depends upon their linguistic skill and knowledge.

An interpreter’s working languages are classified into three categories:

• A – Language ‘A’ is the interpreter’s native language, or their ‘mother tongue’. It is the language they are most familiar with, that they speak the best, and the language in which they are able to convey even highly complex ideas with ease. This is usually the language of choice for simultaneous translations as they must be highly accurate, and fast.

• B – Language ‘B’ is a language in which an interpreter is completely fluent, but is not their native language. An interpreter may have numerous ‘active’ languages which they are able to work with during interpretations. This is the language(s) that they work into from either their native language, or another ‘active’ language. Interpreters will often use their ‘B’ language for consecutive interpretations as speed is not so vital. When an interpreter is performing a simultaneous interpretation they are most likely to listen to a ‘B’ language, and then speak their ‘A’ language.

• C – Language ‘C’ is a language which an interpreter fully understands, but in which they aren’t fluent, and therefore, don’t work. They are able to interpret from this ‘passive’ language into one of their ‘active languages. A translator would tend to work from a ‘C’ language and translate into either one of their ‘A’ or ‘B’ languages.

Understanding these classifications will assist you in selecting the right translation provider, interpreter, or language specialist for your task, and will ensure your translation is accurate, effective and professional.



Language Services

Professional Language Service Providers (LSPs) offer a wide range of language services, with some also offering associated services such as design, copywriting, and so on.

Many people using language services for the first time are surprised by the range of services available and don’t understand the differences.

Below you’ll find a brief outline of the main language services offered here at Creative Word, so you can make a more informed choice regarding the type of language service that best suits your needs.

Translation – is the process of adapting written text from one language to another so that the meaning of the message remains the same and it can be understood by a foreign-language speaking audience. Our translation service is best used for technical, legal, religious or general company translations.

Localization – this is similar to translation but is more in-depth and adapts content including, images, currency, humour, weights and measures, fonts, colours, taglines and logos so that they fit with the audience’s expectations. Localization is ideal for multilingual websites, marketing material, apps, and so on, which require a more cohesive link between language, culture and the new audience.

Interpreting – this is translation of the spoken word. There are different types of interpreting suited to different settings and understanding each type will help you make the right choice for your requirements.

Training – At Creative Word, we embrace diversity and inclusion and have created top-class training courses to encourage and teach cultural awareness and cultural intelligence. Ideal for those embarking on overseas postings, multinational firms, or to promote inclusion within the workplace, our courses are available via eLearning so can be accessed anywhere, at any time.

Design – multilingual design is essential when marketing or selling to international consumers or clients. Creative flair combined with cultural and linguistic excellence, ensures our design team will give you the competitive edge in international markets. Our design service is best used for multilingual websites, apps, packaging, brochures, and more.

Part 2 of our Translation and Language Services Terminology Guide gives an in-depth glossary of terms linked to the translation and interpretation industry, enabling you to stay informed, and knowledgeable.

If you’d like more information on any language service, or wish to discuss your requirements, please contact us.

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