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) Back translation: 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 complaint!

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) Transcreation: 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 world.

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 looks blah.

Word File: a word-processing document that is guaranteed to crash when a deadline is looming.

13 Responses to Funny glossary of translating

  1. Ana says:

    Genious, loved it! They all rang so true to me

  2. Charles Ek says:

    This is the best description of our occupation that I’ve seen! Thanks for brightening my day.

  3. Herkko Vuorinen says:

    So comforting to understand that colleagues have same issues. Peer support at its best, I guess. LOL!

  4. Marek says:

    Styles: Enigma for all clients and all translators. But it does what the customer wants and needs and what the translator did in an incredibly time consuming and clumsy way.

    Numbered list: Microsoft in numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 5, 6, OMG 3, 4, Fcuk! 7, 8, Not again! 3, 4…

    Bold in PPT: Something you write in normal font in three layers, when possible each character in a separate box.

    User end of line: Something I shot several colleagues for.

    Deadline for the translator: A point of time when he should start thinking about having a look, where the hell he saved the file the agency sent a week ago. Usually triggered by hysterical shouting of the translation agency owner coming from the phone.

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  6. Beryl judd says:

    Very funny, but concerned about “amount” of words instead of “number”. Or am I being a grammar-obsessed pedant?

  7. Ted Wozniak says:

    Thank you! Just what I needed late on a Friday afternoon. And yes, I will be working this weekend!

  8. TermCoord says:

    Dear all,

    Thank you very much for your comments and the whole team is glad that you enjoyed this glossary.

    Have a good day!

    The TermCoord Team

  9. Thomas Tolnai says:

    Excellent! :) This should be read by translators and clients alike.

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  11. Nelida K. says:

    Loved it. [Nearly] all my pet peeves were reflected, :).

  12. Excellent “translator speak” for the uninitiated Thanks!

  13. Rannheid Sharma says:

    Sadly this rings true for a lot of translators.So do you laugh or cry? The best “medicine” is to spend time getting better clients, I mean actively searching for them. Then discard the ones that give you grief. You will be so much happier, you will have clients who value what you do, and you will no longer be at the beck and call of everyone who thinks you are a volunteer magician.

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