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Acronyms are a huge part of modern life. From ASAP to EOD to BTDTGTTSAWIO (been there, done that, got the t-shirt and wore it out), there are tons to learn. There are probably some that are better to avoid as well (like that last one)! The language industry also has its fair share of acronyms. These terms are thrown around frequently. Understanding language industry acronyms will help you to better navigate communication with your clients or providers. 

We hope that this list, while not all-inclusive, can help you to understand some of the lingo as you prepare your products for the global market! 

LSP- Language Service Provider 

A Language Service Provider is an entity that helps bridge gaps in communication. They might offer services such as translation, transcreation, localization, or interpreting. An LSP ensures that the messages you are putting out reach and connect with your target audience, regardless of language or cultural differences. 

SL/TL- Source Language/Target Language

Source Language refers to the language that a piece of content was originally written in. Target Language is the desired language of the translated product.

MT- Machine Translation

Machine Translation is a computer-based translation program. It translates texts from one language to another without human involvement. Machine Translation can save a lot of time and cost. However, machine-only translations are not always perfect and sometimes contain errors that need to be corrected by a human translator. 

MTPE- Machine Translation with Post-Editing

This language industry acronym refers to Machine Translation that is looked over by a human editor. Once Machine Translation has produced an approximate translation, a professional editor reviews the translation to make any necessary corrections that the computer might not have noticed due to contextual or tonal complications. MTPE combines the speed of Machine Translation with the accuracy of human translation.

TM- Translation Memory

Translation Memory (TM) is often confused with the previous term, Machine Translation (MT). A Translation Memory is a linguistic database that remembers sentences, paragraphs, or segments that have been translated before. During the translation process, a translation memory will match these saved phrases and match them with similar or identical phrases occurring in the current project. This dramatically improves translation quality, speed, and consistency. 

DTP- Desktop Publishing

Desktop Publishing involves formatting a translated and localized text so that it matches the formatting of the source text. Many different programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Adobe Photoshop can perform Desktop Publishing. DTP is especially important for content that contains lots of images or unusual formatting. 

CAT- Computer-Assisted Translation

The acronym CAT is usually found in the phrase ‘CAT tool’. Computer-Assisted Translation tools are programs that split documents into segments that can be more easily translated. They are organization tools that allow translators to work much more efficiently. Often, CAT tools contain additional features such as machine translation or translation memory to help translators translate faster and with more accuracy. There are many CAT tools available in the industry. Some of the more popular choices include Trados Studio, memoQ, and Memsource.

OSI- On-site Interpreting

On-site Interpreting is the most traditional mode of interpreting. During On-Site Interpreting, an interpreter comes to an in-person meeting or event. This could include a variety of situations, such as medical appointments, social gatherings, or a court of law. 

OPI- Over the Phone Interpreting

Over the Phone Interpreting is a viable alternative if you can’t find an interpreter available to be physically present during an event. Sometimes, interpreters are needed on very short notice. In these cases, over the phone interpreting is a good option, and a way to ensure that language services are available for those in need. 

VRI- Video Remote Interpreting

Similar to Over the Phone Interpreting, Video Remote Interpreting allows you to get in contact with an interpreter without them having to be there in person. This allows interpreters to service more people from their homes. With video connection, they can also view the meeting and form a better connection with those they are working with. 

ATA- American Translators Association

The American Translators Association is the largest professional association of translators and interpreters in the United States. They keep members up to date with information on the industry, latest technology, educational opportunities, and standards. The ATA issues credentials to translators. These credentials certify a translator and inform others that they have the ability to produce high-quality translations. 

CMS- Content Management Systems

While not directly related to translation and the language industry, Content Management Systems are often used to help companies connect with their target audiences. A CMS is a software that helps users create, post, and manage content on a website. It builds a basic template for a website on its own. This allows content creators to focus on producing content instead of dealing with nitty-gritty programming details.  

The Takeaway

As you become more involved with the language industry, you’ll continue to hear these terms. You’ll also hear other acronyms and terminology that we couldn’t include on this list! Always be sure to ask your LSP (Language Service Provider) if there are any language industry acronyms you are unsure of! This helps facilitate trust and teamwork between client and provider. 

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