Spanish Free Translation / Free Translation English to Spanish Guide Glossary

The Spanish Free Translation Guide glossary explains the key terms that you might encounter when dealing with translation providers. At the bottom of the page, you'll find a link to our Free Translation English to Spanish Price Guide, along with more resources. (Looking for a free online Spanish translator?)

As you are researching translation partners, you may come across some unfamiliar terminology. Here are basic explanations of some terms used in the translation business.

CAT - Computer Assisted Translation or Computer Aided Translation. Some of the most popular CAT tools used by professional translators include Trados, Wordfast, and Déjà Vu. It is important to note that these tools are not the same as machine translators. They do not actually translate. They only assist the translator, especially via what is called a TM or Translation Memory (see "TM").

Certified Translator - This term is applied in different ways, and if someone tells you he or she is a certified translator, it is important to investigate exactly what is meant.

Sometimes the term is used to refer to someone who has been authorized by a government entity to complete or validate translations for official purposes in a certain country. (It is important to note that the requirements for a "certified translation" or legally valid translation vary from country to country and even from state to state. If you are told that you need a certified translation, find out exactly what is required for your specific situation).

Other times, the term "certified translator" is used in a general way for a translator who has earned a translation certificate or diploma from any kind of private or public school or organization.

DTP - Desktop Publishing. Layout and design work on a digital document. If you require DTP services in addition to translation, be aware that these may be charged separately.

Editing, Revision, Proofreading, QA - A quality check of a document. These words may be used to refer to a wide variety of quality procedures. Some agencies that offer "revision" or "proofreading" will only glance over the translation to make sure if it appears complete, while others will have a native editor reading every sentence and checking it against the original. If you are promised a revision or proofreading service, it is important to investigate exactly what you will be getting for your money.

Read tips on managing revision in our Spanish Free Translation Guide

Interpretation - The transfer of information from one language to another, normally in spoken form, (versus "translation," which is normally in written form.)

MT - Machine Translation. A translation generated by a computer program via the substitution of words in one language for words in another.

Read more about machine translation and find a free online translator in our Spanish Free Translation Guide.

PM - Project Manager (the person who coordinates a translation project), or Project Management (the coordination of a translation project).

Get advice on translation project management in our Free Translation English to Spanish Guide.

QA - Quality Assurance. See "Editing."

Source language - The language from which a document is translated. For example, when a translation is from English to French, the source language is English.

Sworn Translation, Certified Translation - See "Certified Translator."

Target language - The language into which a document is translated. For example, when a translation is from English to French, the target language is French.

TM - Translation Memory. A computer program that can store glossaries and "remember" previous translations in order to make suggestions to the translator. For example, imagine that the phrase "None of the above" appears nineteen times in a document. After the translator has translated it once, the TM will suggest the same translation each time it subsequently appears. This can speed up the translation process and result in a more consistent translation. A TM can also help translators use consistent terminology on all translations from a particular client or follow an approved corporate glossary from that client.

Translation - The transfer of information from one language to another, normally in written form, (versus "interpretation," which is normally in spoken form.)

TSP - Translation Service Provider. A company or individual providing professional translation services.

Read a comparison of TSP types in our Free Translation English to Spanish Guide.

Word count - The number of words in a document or in a translation. Word count is a important concept in the translation industry because it is generally the basis for translation pricing. Most translators charge a per word rate which is multiplied by the total word count. It is more common to make this calculation based on the number of source words (words in the original language); however, in some cases, translators charge based on the number of target words (words in the translated document). Find out more about word count in our Spanish Free Translation Guide.

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