Funny Glossary

In honor of having given my very first class lecture on terminology today, here’s a great glossary every translator should strive to learn by heart  (found over on the website of the Terminology Coordination Unit):

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
translation, resulting
in attempts to insert errors in a translation, resulting in a debate of
life, the
universe and everything.

Deadline: (1) The unreasonable delivery schedule
that will almost kill the translator, but not quite.
(2) Deadlines:
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
fuss about.

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
for translation.

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.

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