Glossary of common translation terms


In Australia accreditation is a credential awarded by NAATI to people who have demonstrated a certain level of ability to interpret or translate, and an understanding of sociocultural and ethical issues. There are three levels of accreditation: “Professional” and “Paraprofessional”, which are both awarded by either exam or course completion, and “Recognition”, which is awarded as an interim measurement of rare or emerging languages for which no exams have been set.


AUSIT is the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators – A fully independent association which aims to promote the highest standards in the translating and interpreting business.

Back translation

Back Translation is the process of translation back from the target language into the source language by a second translator. Back translation doesn’t always ensure accuracy as the second translator won’t pick up errors such as incorrect numbers and may in fact introduce errors into the text. Every language allows flexibility of word choice, and this choice can only be deemed accurate through an understanding of the original text.

Certified translation

A certified translation is a translation that has been reviewed by a certified NAATI translator and deemed to be a true and correct reflection of the source text.


This is the stage of written translation where the draft is compared to the source language text and all information is confirmed as having been accurately reproduced.

Comprehension check

This is a test done to ensure speakers understand the meaning of a translation.

Extraneous information

This is material included in a translation but not found explicitly in the source text. This information is deemed necessary to include by the translator in order to communicate the message of the source text. This can also be referred to as a translators note.


Gisting is the process by which a rough or outline translation of a text is given to provide an insight into the subject and overall content of the source text.

Idiomatic translation

This is where the meaning of the original text is translated into forms which most accurately and naturally preserve the meaning of the original text.

Interlinear translation

Interlinear translation is a form of translation where each line of a source text has a line placed directly beneath it which gives a word by word literal translation into a target language.

Literal translation

Literal translation is a type of translation where the forms of the original text are retained as much as possible.

Loan translation

This is the process of borrowing the meaning parts of a source word and directly translating them to the target language, instead of using a native term from the target language.


Localisation means to adapt a product to a specific locale, i.e. to the language, cultural norms, standards, laws and requirements of the target market.

Machine translation (MT)

Machine translation is; a) a translation produced by a computer program; b) use of a translation program to translate text without human input in the actual translation process.


NAATI is the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters – an examination and accreditation body for interpreters and translators in Australia.

Native speaker competence

This means that a person has oral and written command of a language equivalent to that of a person who learned the language as a child and has continued to use it as his/her language of habitual use, but who also has had some language training.


Revising is the process of reading a text to identify errors, inconsistencies, incorrect grammar and punctuation, poor or inappropriate style, and conformance with the source text.

Sight translation

It’s an interpreting technique used to orally render material written in one language into another language. A specialised skill, sight translation is most often used when the gist of a letter or document needs to be determined with urgency.

Source language

The source language is the language from which the source text is to be translated.

Source text

Source text is the text that is to be translated.

Target language

The target language is the language into which the source text is to be translated.

Target text

Target text is the text of the translated document.


Translation is the transfer of one written language into another written language without changing the meaning, register or nuances of the source language and without additions or omissions.

Word count

Word count measures of the size of a text based on the source or target language.

Word-for-word translation

This is a form of literal translation which seeks to match the individual words of the original as closely as possible to individual words of the target language.