Glossary of Translation Terminology

Be an informed Korean translation buyer by understanding Korean translation terminology and concepts

I have tried to explain the information on this website using common terms and expressions. However, the translation industry has undergone a dramatic transformation in the last few decades with the introduction of advanced technologies. As a result, understanding many translation concepts, as well as my best-practice approach to Korean translation, requires knowledge of some specialized Korean translation vocabulary.

Get up to speed on the Korean translation field with this handy glossary of terms.

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Don’t by confused by Korean translation terminology.

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ARTICLES FROM THE KOREAN TRANSLATION BEST-PRACTICES SERIES


certified translation – an add-on service to a translation or revision workflow wherein the translator attests to the correctness of a translation. Translation certification is usually performed so the translation can be used for a legal purpose. (Refer to my Certified Korean Translation service.)

computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool – a software package that provides a workspace in which a translator performs translation-related tasks. Most CAT tool workspaces include a two-column main window, with the source text shown in the left column and an empty column on the right side for entering the translation. The workspace is equipped with translation memory (TM) technology, along with a variety of other functions, including filters, search, quality checks, terminology lists, machine translation, and other innovative reference tools. This software allows the translator to work at higher efficiency, while also producing better quality. Leading CAT tool programs include my favorite, memoQ, as well as many others, including SDL Trados, Déjà Vu, Wordfast, Memsource, etc.

edit distance – a metric that measures the extent of edits made to a text. (This is a key metric that I use in my Korean Translation Revision service.

English-to-Korean translation – a workflow of translating an English document into Korean

hybrid translation – a workflow in which a translator translates a text while referring to automatically generated translations from one or more machine translation engines. This workflow accepts a certain loss in target text refinement in exchange for significant speed improvements of up to two or three times that of a traditional translation workflow. (Refer to my Korean Hybrid Translation service.)

Korean interpreter – a general term used in the English-speaking world, mainly to refer to an interpreter of spoken Korean to English or of spoken English to Korean. Often confused with a Korean translator, someone who translates the written word.

Korean linguist – a person who provides Korean translation-related services (in the context of the Korean-language services I provide)

Korean-to-English translation – a workflow of translating a Korean document into English

Korean translator – a general term used in the English-speaking world mainly to refer to a translator of written Korean to English (also, Korean-to-English translator) or of written English to Korean (also, English-to-Korean translator). Often confused with Korean interpreter. (Refer to my profile for details about my experience and qualifications as a Korean translator.)

literary translation – the translation of literary works, such as novels, short stories and poetry

machine translation (MT) – an advanced technology-based service that automatically translates texts from one language into another. Google Translate is the most widely known and used, but there are many others as well, including Microsoft Translator, Systran, and DeepL. Translation technology is now in a third-generation of development. Having started with rule-based algorithms decades ago, the technology took a big step forward with statistical approaches in the 1990s. Neural (i.e., artificial intelligence) technology powers most machine translation today. (See my article Five Workflows that Leverage Korean Machine Translation.)

post-edited machine translation – a workflow in which a translator edits a machine-translated target text to raise the quality of the translation. The focus is on getting the translation to a minimum acceptable level, with efficiency gains of up to ten times or more that of a traditional translation workflow

premium Korean translation – a workflow that utilizes the best professional skills, latest technology, and sophisticated workflows to deliver the best Korean translation possible, along with significant efficiency gains (See my Premium Korean Translation service.)

source-character billing – a translation pricing approach with character-based languages (such as Korean) that multiplies the number of source characters by a translation rate to calculate a job price

source language – the language from which a translation is performed. For example, when translating a Korean document to English, Korean is the source language. The text of the source language is referred to as the source text, or often shortened just to source.

source-word billing – a translation pricing approach that multiplies the number of words in a source text by a translation rate to calculate a job price. This is the default billing approach for most English-to-Korean translation projects and is occasionally applied to Korean-to-English jobs, as well.

target language – the language into which a translation is performed. Thus, when translating a Korean document to English, English is the target language. The text of the target language is referred to as the target text or translated text, often shortened just to target or translation.

target-word billing – a translation pricing approach that multiplies the number of words in the target text by a translation rate to calculate a job price. This was the default billing approach for most Korean-to-English translation projects in the past, but the recent industry trend has moved toward source-character and source-word billing, even for character-based languages like Korean.

technical translation – the translation of technical documents used in technical and business fields. This is the type of translation I focus on exclusively.

text leverage – the similarity of source text in a document to source text in a translation memory (i.e. TM leverage), or to other text within the same document (i.e. internal leverage). Also referred to as fuzzy matching. This leverage combined with translation memory technology helps the translator translate more efficiently and consistently and forms the basis for leverage-based discounts that help to bring costs down on many projects.

transcreation – a translation workflow where the translator is given leeway to flexibly communicate the meaning in the target language without necessarily adhering to the literal meaning of the source. Emphasizes the cultural and linguistic context of the text, and is commonly used on marketing-related technical translation projects, as well as in literary translation.

translation – a workflow that converts the meaning of a written text from one language to another

translation editing – a workflow of comparing a source text and previously translated target text while improving the quality of the translation by correcting mistranslations, omissions, incorrect additions, and typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors, as well as stylistic deficiencies. (See the editing option under my Korean Translation Revision service.)

translator – a person who translates a written text from one language to another

transliteration – a quasi-translation task of converting Korean characters to English letters based on their phonetic sounds, rather than their meanings

translation memory – a file-based database of previously translated text segments containing the respective source and target text in bilingual format. In translation workflows, translation memory is integrated into the computer-aided translation (CAT) tool workspace for reference in the course of ongoing translation work. When similar or identical segments of text are present in a document, internal text matching algorithms of the CAT tool suggest relevant previous translations to the translator during the work. This process raises translation productivity and consistency within a document, and even from project to project.

translation proofreading – a workflow of reviewing a previously translated target text while improving the quality of the translation by correcting typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors, and even stylistic deficiencies. This is primarily a monolingual task that only attempts to correct mistranslations, omissions, and incorrect additions when the proofreader notices red flags in the target text indicating to the proofreader that a review of the respective source text section is warranted. (See the proofreading option under my Korean Translation Revision service.)

translation revision – a workflow that improves the quality of a translated text. The most common revision types include monolingual translation proofreading and bilingual translation editing. (See my Korean Translation Revision service.)

translation validation – a workflow of reviewing a previously translated target text to assess the quality of the translation based on a number of factors, including the presence of mistranslations, omissions, incorrect additions, and typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors, as well as stylistic deficiencies. This workflow does not attempt to improve the translation, but only to assess it.