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Capetown, South Africa

Jargon can be a real drag…

Posted 18 April 2013

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Are there any fans of ‘corporate speak’ out there?

When having a meeting with a large company in London about their translation requirements, we all came away feeling slightly bemused. Despite being linguists, not one of us understood enough of the corporate language used by the client to get a real idea of what was needed. Thankfully, the literature they required was straightforward.

We recently came across another example, which is relevant because it relates to a foreign employee trying to understand corporate speak and almost finding himself in hot water.

It’s the story of the line manager who was put in charge of a new employee, a newcomer to the country. Halfway through the first morning, despite a thorough search of the premises, the line manager was unable to locate his charge. Eventually, one of the members of staff found the new employee standing outside and he was brought before the line manager to account for his behaviour. It transpired that during the pep-talk, the new employee had been encouraged to ‘think outside the box’ and he had been quite happily ruminating in the sunshine ever since.

We love our industry jargon, as do our translators, but we don’t like to inflict it on our customers. Sometimes, it seems as though the real purpose of jargon is to impress a potential client by making a process sound far more complicated than it need be, giving it some sort of mysterious value. We recently came across a website http://unsuck-it.com where you can ‘unsuck’ corporate speak and jargon. However, when we tried inputting some commonly used ‘translation-speak’, it didn’t come up with any suggestions. Anyone who has had to procure translation services may have heard a few of our industry-standard terms and may be well aware of their meaning, but because we don’t want to offend and nor do we want to make assumptions, our website comes with its very own ‘jargon explained’ page.

So we’re going to do our own bit of ‘unsucking’ here with a little taster of commonly used terms used in the translation industry.

Are you familiar with any of the following?

  • 100% match
  • Fuzzy match
  • No match
  • Weighted word count
  • Back translation
  • CAT tools
  • TM
  • L10N
  • MT
  • LSO
  • Transcription
  • Translation asset
  • Secondary proofreading

Here’s some jargon in context:

If you send a document for a translation quote, if suitable, we will analyse it using a CAT tool, against a TM for any matches and produce a weighted word count that will usually reduce costs. This TM will update as the translation progresses, banking translation assets along the way for use in any future translation projects, to maintain consistency and save costs now and in the future.

The document may be suitable for Machine Translation, though it’s still very much a work in progress and isn’t suitable for all documentation. Finally, if work is for publication, we recommend secondary proofreading as part of the job and an LSO before it is published.

We were going to try and write a catchy poem using all of these terms but it was proving too difficult.

If this all seems to be gobbledegook, please visit our industry jargon explained page on our website http://www.asset-lm.com/jargon.asp

Not every customer wants to know the finer details of the latest translation technology, the latest software innovation, crowdsourcing and machine translation. They just need to get their documentation translated at a reasonable price within a reasonable timeframe. And for those who are interested, that information is there too, so there’s something for everyone.

Finally, if anyone fancies trying to make up a catchy poem using our jargon, we’d love to read it!


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