Translation Terms

The translation industry has been around for a while. At least since 2nd millenium BC when the Sumerian poem, Gilgamesh, was converted into other languages.

There’s so much industry jargon now, it’s hard to keep up with it.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. Here are the most common translation terms in plain English.

Translation Terms

3 Types of Translation you Will Need

1. Personal Use

Individuals for images, shopping websites, webtoons, signs and menus while traveling

  • Quality: the overall meaning with potential errors
  • Delivery: Immediate

Use Papago or Google Translate

2. Professional Use

Startups and new business for internal communication, social media posts, user reviews, emails and letters

  • Quality: human translation without QC
  • Delivery: At least a day

Use Fiverr

3. Advanced Use

Established companies for presentations, legal documents, reports, mobile apps and website localization

  • Quality: human translation usually with QC like proofreading and review
  • Delivery: Longer than a day

Use a reputable company specialized in the language pair you need

Check out some Fiverr gigs below!


Also known as Computer Aided Translation or Computer Assisted Translation

Any software tool that makes translation easier. 

The most common function is breaking sentences into segments for readability. Translated segments are stored and identical source segments are autofilled. This saves the translator time and energy. 

There are many programs that perform these functions. Trados and MemoQ are the more popular ones.

Other features include glossaries, text search tools, TM(Translation memories), machine translation suggestions, word and character counters.

Exact match

Also known as 100% match.

Used in CAT tools when the current source segment matches another stored segment perfectly. The software can auto populate the current segment and save the translator time.

Fuzzy match

Similar to exact match.

Used in CAT tools when the current source segment nearly matches another stored segment. The software can suggest the similar segment to save the translator time.

Some software calculates the percentage match. For example, your current segment might be a 70% match with a stored segment.


Similar to transcreation.

Adapting a file to meet the language and cultural requirements of a specific region. This also includes removing anything that would be considered offensive or culturally insensitive in the target market.

For example, changing a website to match a specific dialect in Korea like Gyeongsang-do in South Eastern Korea. 


Also known as project manager.

Handles your translation project from beginning to end. They will coordinate with translators and proofreaders, and perform quality control.

Reference Files

Also known as references or translation memories.

These files that contain text in both source and target languages are invaluable for translators. By providing them to a translator, you can minimize back and forth edits and get the style of translation you need the first time.


Also known as source language.

The language to be translated.

For example, if you have a document in Korean that you need translated into English, the source would be English


Also known as target language.

The language to be translated into.

For example, if you have a document in English that you need translated into Korean, the target language would be Korean.


Also known as glossaries, terminology bases or term bases.

Lists of words in multiple languages. For example, English and their Korean counterparts.

They’re used by translators and their clients to keep terms consistent.

TM (Translation Memory)

See reference file.


Similar to localization.

Adapting content in one language into another while preserving the style, tone and overall message.

It differs from translation by allowing more liberties to be taken with the source. Transcreation can be thought of as copywriting in the target language.

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