Funny glossary of translating
20,000 words: The amount of words (some) clients think can be translated overnight.
Back translation: (1) I can’t proofread and I don’t
trust you. Send translation of your translation.
(2) When the chicken and egg conundrum becomes a language assignment.
Briefing for copywriting style adaptation: Are extremely short and leave the copywriter with more
questions than answers.
Capital letters: Something that clients love to put in and translators love to take out.
CAT Tool: a piece of string used to play with your feline friend whilst your TM program reboots.
Charm: A coercive ploy used by clients when they need you to dig them out of a hole.
Client: “Please provide some alternative headlines” = “We have no idea what the message is”.
Customer feedback: A lengthy exchange of emails
where the customer attempts to insert error in a
in attempts to insert errors in a translation, resulting in a debate of
universe and everything.
Deadline: (1) The unreasonable delivery schedule
that will almost kill the translator, but not quite.
Clients love to give them, but (some) hate to keep them when they’re on
the bottom of an invoice.
Dictionary: Gives you every alternative except that elusive word you are searching for.
Excel Files: A file format used by clients who don’t know how to create tables in Word files.
Fee: The tiny figure on your bank account that keeps you from starving and that clients make such a
Feedback: Something that is never forthcoming unless it’s negative. Not to be confused with
Friday night: chances are big your favorite client asks for a huge translation due 9am on Monday.
Holidays: non-existing term in translators’ community.
OCR: A tool that scans the words “I love you” as “1 i0u3 40v”.
PDF: A file format used when the client has lost the original source text.
PPT files: A file format used by people who are planning to bore their audience to death.
Pre-booked Job Date: The day *after* the day that the client promised to deliver a pre-booked job
Proofreading by the client: The phase of implementing spelling and grammar errors.
Proofreading: The PERECT job for grammar-obsessed pedants.
Relevant background material: 20 GB of completely useless stuff.
Research: five hours spent on the internet looking for two words, only to be told it’s a typo and to
leave them out.
Rush fee: Trying to sell a ten percent raise as a hundred percent raise.
Sample Translation: A long document a client has split between 20 agencies as a way of getting the
work done for free.
Slush Pile: The pile that translation agencies put emails in when job-hunting translators *BCC* a
pitch to 500 agencies.
Social media: now your whole extended family and friends of friends can ask for free translations.
Source copy in JPG file: the ultimate nightmare.
Tab Stops: Used by clients/translators who don’t know how to create tables in Word files.
Ten free test translations a day keep the translator’s money away.
Transcreation: (1) a service for clients who know
their source copy is crap. (2) The best excuse to do
whatever you want by contract.
Translation Agency: The pariah in the middle of the client/supplier sandwich.
Translation theory: That thing they teach you in school that you never quite seem to use in the real
Translator: A person expected to do today what the client should have done yesterday.
ttx file: a supposedly interchange file format that doesn’t “interchange” at all.
Twitter: A tool to reassure translators that Armageddon didn’t happen whilst they were racing to a
30k word deadline.
Weekends: The 2 days between Friday and Monday when clients mini-break in Paris whilst
translators are expected to work.
White Space: Something that clients never leave in PPT docs and are then surprised when their
translated files look blah.
Word File: a word-processing document that is guaranteed to crash when a deadline is looming.