Has it ever happened to you to turn to a professional translation agency for your linguistic needs and to suddenly have to answer all these questions about things as bewildering as CAT tools, DTP and fuzzy matches?

Keep calm and read further on! Here is a list of common terms used by translation agencies with a short explanation for your understanding:

Source/ Target text
The term source text (ST) refers to the original text requiring translation into a different language. Target text (TT) is the output of the translation process.

Source / Target word count
In translation, a translation agency will usually charge per word in the document for translation. Therefore, prior to quoting, a word count of the source text is taken. When a source word count is impossible, i.e. on hard copies, the target word count may be used instead. As opposed to source word count, the term target word count is the number of words in a translated document.

CAT Tools – Computer Assisted Translation tools
Due to advances in technology, computer software can now carry out or assist with translations. The term CAT indicates the use of such software with the translator. These tools are commonly used to manage both the specific terminology linked to the field in question plus the translation memories (don’t panic – jump to the following entry).
It is important not to confuse CAT tools with machine translation (MT), as CAT tools still involve a human translator who uses computer software to facilitate the translation process, whereas in machine translation there is no human intervention.

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Translation memory
A translation memory, or TM, is a database that stores sentences, paragraphs or sentence-like units that have previously been translated, in order to aid human translators. The translation memory stores the source text and its corresponding translation in language pairs called translation units. Translation memories are typically used in conjunction with a dedicated CAT tool (guess what – you know this term already!) to support the translation process. The software breaks the text to be translated into segments, looks for matches between segments and previously translated material stored in the translation memory, and presents such matching pairs as translation candidates. Analysis will reveal 100% matches (identical matches) or fuzzy matches (similar, but not identical matches) within the text, which are instantly extracted and placed within the target file.

A termbase (terminology database) is a database containing terminology and related information. Most termbases are multilingual and contain terminology data in a range of different languages.

Text expansion
The term describes the process that often occurs during translation, in which the total number of characters in the target text exceeds that of the source text.

DTP – Desktop publishing
DTP or desktop publishing is offered by some translation agencies. This is where a DTP expert can use foreign fonts for things such as typesetting, creation of image files, brochures, company reports, etc. In short, multilingual DTP is using foreign languages for artwork.