Translation 101 for BuyersIf you’ve never needed any localisation services before, navigating the sea of language industry terminology might seem like a daunting task. Where should you even start? Translation agencies all seem to speak a secret language peppered with phrases like “TM”, “target language”, “transcreation” and the likes of those. In our new blog series, Language Industry 101 for Buyers, we will look at various services language service providers – or LSPs for short – offer, so next time you need to request one, you’ll be familiar with the most important terms like “source language”, “revision”, “CAT tools” and the rest!

In the first post in this series, you may learn about the basics of translation and what you’ll need to know as a translation buyer.

  1. Translation vs. interpreting

When LSPs talk about “translation” or “translators”, we most often refer to the written form of the process of making something available or understandable to the speakers of another language. The oral form of the same is called “interpreting”, and the person carrying this important task out is an interpreter”.

Translation is a very broad term and can mean the localisation of documents, websites, software, apps, certificates, advertisements and books, etc. for audiences that cannot understand the original language they were written in. Interpreting can happen in situations when two speakers face each other, let’s say, at a meeting or appointment, or at a conference where delegates are from various countries, and they need to know what’s said on the spot.

Knowing this distinction between translation and interpreting can come in handy when contacting an LSP. Stating clearly which service you need will considerably make the project’s start much quicker and smoother.

  1. Source language and target language

Once it’s been established whether your needs are for translation or interpreting, your LSP will also ask which languages are involved. You might hear the terms “source language” and “target language” in the context of translation. As its name suggests, source language is the one in which the document was originally written, and target language is the one (or ones) the document will need to be translated into. If you have trouble identifying the source language, don’t hesitate to ask your LSP, and if you are not sure which languages area spoken in your target country, they can also advise you on that.

  1. Context is king!

One of the most common sentences you might hear a translator utter when you ask them what this or that means is “it depends on the context”. The same sentence or even one word can be translated in various different ways, depending on the purpose of the text, the target audience’s age or occupation, your internal style guides, related documents or reference material, and what the intended effect of the text might be. There are various key factors to consider, and professional translators make careful terminology and style choices based on all this information. When your LSP asks all those pesky questions from you about the wider context, they don’t do it to be annoying, they do it because they want to make sure you get the best possible translation that is just right for your specific needs!

These three points listed the most basic knowledge a translation buyer would need to know to get started with their translation project. In our upcoming blog posts we will share more information about various types of translation and other services and translation software to further help you maneuver amongst the plethora of translation-related terminology.

Do you still have some questions about the basics of translation? Do you want to know how you can request a translation? Don’t hesitate to get in touch via email:!