Glossary of Language Industry Terms

Because in Legal Matters, Language Matters.

Accredited translatorIn the UK, an accredited translator is an individual who has received official recognition from a professional institute, such as the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) or the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL). Accreditation is typically granted based on a combination of examination results and practical experience. It serves as a prerequisite for membership in professional associations.
AI TranslationAI translation, also known as Artificial Intelligence translation, involves using AI technologies—particularly machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) algorithms—to automatically translate text or speech from one language to another. While AI translation has made significant strides in providing quick and accessible translations, it is essential to recognise that, at present, it still has limitations in accurately capturing the full context, nuances, and cultural subtleties found in human-generated translations. For critical or sensitive content, human professional translators remain the preferred choice.
Adaptation Adaptation refers to modifying a text to make it suitable for a different purpose, target readership, region, or country. It involves adjusting or tailoring communications to align with the cultural preferences, norms, values, and expectations of a specific audience. Whether it is best to adapt the source text before translation or the translated target text depends on the specific context.
Background/reference text Background/reference text refers to text in either the source or target language that provides background information and serves as a reference for understanding the subject matter of the text to be translated.
Back translation  Back translation involves creating a literal translation of a previously translated text. It is used to assist quality assurance or translation consultants in determining whether the original meaning has been accurately preserved in the target language.
Bilingual A bilingual individual possesses communicative skills in two languages. Bilingualism is one of several essential abilities required of a translator or interpreter, but being bilingual on its own is not enough to qualify one for the arduous and multifaceted life of a linguist!
Certified translation A certified translation is one that has been verified by a translator or a translation company (Language Service Provider, or LSP) as a true and accurate representation of the source text.
ChuchotageChuchotage, also known as whispered interpreting, is similar to simultaneous interpreting. In this method, the interpreter sits close to the listener and whispers the translation without using any technical aids.
Computer-aided translation (CAT)Computer-aided translation (CAT), also known as computer-assisted translation, involves using computer programs, such as translation memory, terminology management, and localisation tools, to assist translators. These tools aim to reduce the translator’s workload and enhance consistency in style and terminology. It is important to note that CAT is distinct from Machine Translation.
Conference interpreter A conference interpreter possesses highly specialised skills and provides simultaneous interpretation of a speaker’s words from one language into another in a single direction only during conferences, meetings, or other formal events.
Consecutive interpreting Consecutive interpreting involves orally translating a speaker’s words into another language after the speaker has finished speaking or during pauses. It is commonly used in formal business meetings, negotiations, training sessions, lectures, and court hearings.
Controlled languageControlled language refers to using a restricted vocabulary and specific rules of formulation. It is often employed in technical documentation to enhance readability for users, non-native speakers, and to facilitate machine translation.
ConsistencyConsistency measures how frequently a specific term or phrase is rendered the same way in the target language across various translations.
Copywriting Copywriting involves writing advertising or publicity copy, aiming to create compelling and persuasive content.
Court interpreter A court interpreter specializes in providing interpretation services during legal proceedings. The requirements for accreditation and certification for court interpreting can vary from country to country.
Desktop Publishing (DTP)DTP is sometimes offered by translators and translation companies/agencies as a value-added service to provide a one-stop solution for customers’ publishing needs. These professionals typically have the specialised equipment required to handle languages that use different typefaces. It is also occasionally referred to as Multimedia Services (MMS).
Dominant language The dominant language is the one a person is most familiar with, usually the language spoken in the country and household where the person resides. It is a more appropriate measure of a linguist’s ability to work into a given language than the concept of “mother tongue” and is sometimes referred to as “language of habitual use”.
Do Not Translate (DNT)DNT refers to a list of phrases and words that should not be translated from the source text into the localised target language. This list often includes brand names and trademarks.
Face-to-Face / In-person InterpretingIn face-to-face / in-person interpreting, an interpreter is physically present to provide interpreting services. This can include consecutive or simultaneous interpreting, as opposed to remote interpreting via telephone or video.
Freelance translator A freelance translator is a self-employed professional who may work for translation agencies, localisation companies, or directly for end clients. They often specialise in specific fields such as legal, financial, commercial, or technical translation. And yes, they tend to run on coffee!
Free translation Free translation emphasizes the overall meaning of the text rather than adhering strictly to the exact wording (in contrast to literal translation). It should not be confused with translation services offered at no charge (gratis).
Gist translationGist translation involves producing a rough or outline translation of a text to provide insight into its subject matter and overall content. Gisting can help determine whether a text contains useful information before commissioning a custom translation. While AI and Machine Translation are suitable for “gist translations,” they often lack cultural understanding and may contain errors.
GlobalisationGlobalisation refers to the process of developing and manufacturing products intended for worldwide distribution. While it is most commonly applied to software, it is also relevant for websites and other publications and products.
Glossary A glossary, like the one you are reading now, is an invaluable tool for translators. By utilising appropriate glossaries, translators can streamline their work and reduce the amount of terminology research required. This, in turn, speeds up subsequent translation projects and ensures consistent and correct terminology usage across all languages.
InternationalisationInternationalisation involves designing or redesigning a product (such as software) to allow for its localisation in other countries with minimal changes to its text content or program code. Internationalised software applications typically store their text in external resource files and use character encoding methods (such as Unicode) that support various language character sets.
Interpreter An interpreter provides oral (spoken) interpretation of a speaker’s words from one language into another. This is distinct from the role of a translator, which is an individual who deals with the written word.
InterpretingInterpreting refers to the act of rendering spoken words from one language into another. It encompasses various modes, including simultaneous interpreting and consecutive interpreting.
ISO 17100:2015ISO 17100:2015 is an international standard that outlines requirements for the core processes, resources, and other aspects necessary for delivering a quality translation service that meets applicable specifications. It replaces the European standard EN 15038:2006.
Language directionLanguage direction refers to the specific direction in which a language is translated within a language pair. For example, translating English into French, or French into English.
Language Engineering  The Euromap Report, published in 1998 on behalf of the EUROMAP Consortium, defines language engineering as “the application of knowledge of written and spoken language to the development of systems able to recognise, understand, interpret, and generate human language”. These language technologies encompass various areas, including computer-aided translation (CAT), speech recognition and synthesis, and semantic searches and information retrieval.
Language combination / language pair  The language combination or language pair refers to the specific languages between which a translator or interpreter works. For example, English to French or Spanish to German.
Language CodeA Language Code assigns letters or numbers as identifiers or classifiers for languages based on the ISO 639 standard. These codes facilitate communication about languages across different systems and contexts.
Language service provider (LSP) An LSP is a provider of translation and other language-related services. Their offerings may include typesetting, publishing, project management, internationalisation, and possibly language teaching.
LinguistA linguist is an individual with a deep understanding of how language works. They are often employed in roles where they translate, analyse, research, and interpret languages. The term linguist serves as a catch-all for translators, interpreters, and language specialists, including language teachers and researchers.
Liaison interpreter A liaison interpreter provides interpreting services, usually consecutively, between two languages in both directions. They facilitate communication in various contexts.
Literal translation Literal translation closely adheres to the wording and construction of the source text. However, it can sometimes appear “stilted” and unnatural in continuous text. It is generally avoided unless there is a specific reason for translating literally (as opposed to a more liberal or free translation).
Literary translator  A literary translator specialises in translating literature, including genres such as fiction, biographies, poetry, and other literary works.
LocalisationLocalisation is the process of adapting a product (usually software, websites, or other content) to a specific locale. This involves tailoring it to the language, cultural norms, standards, laws, and requirements of the target country.
Machine Translation (MT)  Machine Translation refers to translation produced by a computer program. It automatically translates text from one language to another without human involvement. While it offers speed and cost advantages, the quality varies and often requires post-editing. It should not be confused with computer-aided translation (CAT).
Mother-tongue Mother tongue refers to one’s native language. It is often used as an indicator of a translator or interpreter’s ability to work in a particular language. However, terms like language of habitual use, dominant language, and native language are preferred because fluency can vary due to factors like living in another country for an extended period.
Native speaker  A native speaker possesses oral and written command of a language equivalent to someone who learned the language as a child and continues to use it habitually. It includes both fluency and cultural understanding.
Post-editing (PE)Post-editing involves amending machine-translated text to achieve an acceptable final version. Depending on the subject matter, quality, and language pairs, it can be as challenging and time-consuming as direct human translation.
Plain English Plain English is a form of language that is clear, concise, direct, and natural. It is advocated by an increasing number of people as a style that should be used by authors of technical texts, such as user manuals, legal documents, articles, and speeches. Plain English is easier to read than legalese or texts laden with technical jargon and complex sentences, making it accessible to both experts and laypersons.
ProofreadingProofreading involves checking a proof before printing to ensure that no mistakes have been made in typesetting. Translators often use this term in the sense of revising or editing. 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.
Remote InterpretingRemote interpreting refers to providing interpreting services via telephone or video camera, using programs such as Zoom, Teams, Skype, etc. It contrasts with being physically present “in-person.”
RevisingRevising, or reviewing, involves reading a text to identify errors, inconsistencies, incorrect grammar, punctuation, poor style, and other issues. In the case of a translation, revising ensures conformance with the source text and makes appropriate changes and corrections. The number of revision stages depends on the demands of text quality. For example, a translation intended for publication may be revised by the translator and one or two third parties (such as the author, a subject expert, a second translator, or an editor).
Simplified English (SE)Simplified English consists of writing rules and a controlled vocabulary aimed at improving the readability of technical documentation. Developed by the Association of European Airlines (AEA), it is also used for writing texts intended for translation using machine translation tools.
Simultaneous interpreting Simultaneous interpreting involves orally translating a speaker’s words into another language while the speaker is actively speaking. Typically, interpreters sit in booths and use audio equipment to provide real-time translations. Unlike consecutive interpreting, this method allows for a smoother flow without disrupting the natural rhythm of the speaker.
Source language  The source language is the language in which the original text (to be translated) is written. It serves as the starting point for the translation process.
Source text  The source text refers to the actual text that needs to be translated. It is the original content that the translator works with.
Source text analysisSource text analysis involves examining the original text before translation. It provides insights into the difficulty of the translation, helps estimate costs and turnaround times, and prepares files for translation.
Sworn translator  A sworn translator is authorised by a court or government ministry to produce certified translations. While this concept is more common in civil law systems (such as France, Italy, and Spain), it does not exist in the UK.
Target language  The target language is the language into which the text will be translated.
Target text  The target text is the final result of the translation process—the translated content.
Terminology Extraction (TE)Terminology extraction involves creating a corpus of monolingual or multilingual subject-specific terminology by extracting individual terms and phrases from a body of text.
Terminology Extraction Tool (TET)A Terminology Extraction Tool is a computer program that assists with or automates the extraction of terminology from text.
Text function  The text function refers to the purpose served by a text, such as selling a product, providing instructions, or conveying information about an event. Specifying the text function helps translators choose an appropriate style and vocabulary.
Text type  Text type refers to the class of a text (e.g., abstract, news report, light fiction, commentary) and includes specific characteristics related to style, sentence formation, and terminology.
TMXTMX is a standardised format used for exchanging translation memory data between tools and translation vendors. It ensures minimal loss of critical data during the exchange process. Most leading translation memory programs support TMX.
Transcription Transcription involves converting audio (spoken language) into written text. It’s commonly used for creating written records of interviews, speeches, podcasts, and other spoken content.
Translating / translation  Translating refers to the act of rendering written text from one language into another. It’s the process of conveying meaning, context, and intent from the source language to the target language.
TranscreationTranscreation is the art of adapting brand content to resonate culturally within a new market while maintaining messaging, style, context, and intent. It’s often used for short phrases, logos, taglines, and other creative elements.
Translation company/agency A translation company/agency provides professional translation and sometimes interpreting services. They may specialise in specific fields (such as legal, patents, or technical) and offer value-added services like typesetting, publishing, and project management. The term is often used interchangeably with LSP (Language Service Provider).
Translation service provider (TSP) A TSP encompasses both companies/agencies and self-employed translators. They offer a range of translation and related services to meet diverse client needs.
Translation Manager / Project ManagerThe translation manager oversees translation projects. In large-scale projects, they coordinate work among multiple translators, maintain terminology databases, ensure consistency, and liaise between customers and translators. They’re often fuelled by coffee, just like translators themselves!
Translation memory (TM)  A translation memory is a computer-aided translation (CAT) programme that stores previously translated sentences (called “translation units” or segments) along with their corresponding source segments in a database (often referred to as the “memory”). When translating a new segment, the program scans the database for a matching source segment (exact or approximate) and suggests the corresponding target segment as a possible translation. The translator can then accept, modify, or reject the suggestion.
Translator A translator renders written text from one or more languages into another language, usually their language of habitual use. Translators may offer additional services such as desktop publishing or proofreading. (cf. interpreter, who focuses on oral translation). They are often fuelled by coffee.
Transliteration Transliteration involves transforming text from one script to another, often based on phonetic equivalences. For example, Russian text might be transliterated into the Latin script so that English speakers can pronounce it.
UnicodeUnicode is a character encoding standard that uses 16-bit encoding (unlike ASCII’s 8-bit encoding). It allows the representation of virtually all existing character sets (e.g., Latin, Cyrillic, Japanese, Chinese). Unicode simplifies creating documents and programs in multiple languages.
Word countWord count is a standard measure of the size of a text. In translation projects, pricing is often based on a per-word or per-1000-word basis.

As featured in...

Solicitors Journal
International Employment Lawyer
International In-house Counsel Journal

Some of the firms we are proud to have worked with...

Irwin Mitchell
Co-op Legal Services
Simpson Millar
Clarke Wilmott Solicitors
Ward Hadaway
Ward Hadaway
East Sussex County Council
Smith Partnership
Law Together
Clyde & Co
BP Collins
Taylor Collins
Kennedys Law

Translation and Interpreting Servicesfor Professional Service Firms across the UK

Delivering excellence in legal translation, interpreting, and transcription

At IMD Translation Ltd, we support professional service firms and legal practitioners in delivering excellent service to their clients by providing top-quality translations and interpreting. We specialise in the provision of translation and interpreting for the professional services, including all professional service and legal practice areas. Our team has built an excellent reputation through delivering a fast, accurate and confidential service tailored to our clients’ requirements. We provide excellent customer service with a personal touch and always go the extra mile to exceed our client’s expectations. 
IMD Translation Ltd is widely recognised across the UK as a leading provider of translation and interpreting to the professional services. We maintain our reputation for excellence by only having the best linguists working for us. All of our team members are highly qualified, experienced and reliable. 
Because in Legal Matters, Language Matters.


We have excellent experience in translating all types official documents and commercial contracts for professional services clients. Our qualified and reliable translators can advise on Certification, Affidavits, Notarisation Statements of Truth, Sworn Translation, and Apostilles from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office across many practice areas. 


When it comes to interpreting, you need someone who understands not only the subtle nuances in language but in culture and jurisdiction too. Our interpreters offer consecutive interpreting, allowing conversation to flow and is ideal for court hearings, business meetings, prison visits, or commercial conferences.


We provide professional, accurate audiovisual file transcription services across dozens of languages. IMD Translation Ltd utilises the latest technology to provide high-quality audio transcription with exceptional attention to detail. 


Association of Translation Companies
ATC ISO 17100 9001
ATC 2022 Language Industry Awards - New Member of the Year
Plunet - Certified Company 2023
Corporate Vision Global Business Awards - Boutique LSP of the Year 2022