Off topic: Funny glossary of translating
Thread poster: RominaZ

RominaZ  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 5, 2013

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This funny glossary of translating was published by TermCoord Below are a few examples:

20,000 words: The amount of words (some) clients think can be translated overnight.

Capital letters: Something that clients love to put in and translators love to take out.

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!

Holidays: non-existing term in translators’ community.

PDF: A file format used when the client has lost the original source text.

Proofreading by the client: The phase of implementing spelling and grammar errors.

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.

Sample Translation: A long document a client has split between 20 agencies as a way of getting the work done for free.

Social media: now your whole extended family and friends of friends can ask for free translations.

Source copy in JPG file: the ultimate nightmare.

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.

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.

Source: TermCoord

Could you add more entries to this glossary?


Simon Chiassai  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
English to French
+ ...
Haha Sep 5, 2013

Glossary: Excel file containing 74,965 terminology entries written in such a way to render all conversion into a termbase impossible and that the translator has to follow or face financial deductions (cf. fee, feedback).


Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:57
English to German
+ ...
Term translation Sep 6, 2013

List of highly technical terminology that has been helpfully put into alphabetical order to allow the translator to work his way through his dictionaries cover to cover while any context was mercifully removed to save the linguist plenty of time whilst ignoring that there are 26 different German translations for the word "bearing" alone.


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:57
Chinese to English
PMs Sep 6, 2013

Project Managers: child human shields deployed by translation agencies to protect them from editor incoming.


Annelise Brincker  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
English to Danish
+ ...
Haha Sep 6, 2013

A good laugh on a Friday morning. Thanks


nrichy (X)
Local time: 16:57
French to Dutch
+ ...
Excel files (cont'd) Sep 6, 2013

Excel files (2): files containing a website or output of a database in small chunks of 2-7 words, and kindly put into alphabetical order in order to allow the translator to benefit from repetitions. Special case: sentences cut into two or three pieces, not recognizable as belonging to each other, in order to prevent the germanic langages translators to put the verb at the end of the sentence.

Excel files (3): files containing several spreadsheets with 800 words of easy text at the beginning, and 8000 words of heavy legal text at the end hidden in lines with a small or zero height, so that the translator cannot see them and will omit to cut&paste them into Word in order to do a wordcount for his quote.


Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:57
German to English
And also.. Sep 6, 2013

Translation Memory

A list of incorrectly-translated phrases supplied by the client in order to achieve a 30% discount which then have to be agonized over and finally translated from scratch... the list goes on, unfortunately!

Steve K.


Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
here are some of mine Sep 6, 2013

Proofreading: a chance to chortle at another translator's ineptitude

Urgent translation: "nobody will notice my inability to finish my work on time because it is now your problem"

Surcharge for weekend work: bonus charged by the agency to the client for being clever enough to make you work the weekend at your normal rates

Weekend: any two days of the week of your choosing between projects...or not.


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
few more Sep 6, 2013

dictionary: the most fascinating source of all the knowledge you don't need, but which doesn't contain the one word you do

thesaurus: the most delicious time-waster ever

glossary: list of words + translations thereof supplied by client that you only look at when you're really stumped, only to discover that it contains a whole lot of words you've been scratching your head over, with very plainly the wrong translation specified as a "compulsory term", preferably with just enough typos to make searching a pain in the neck.

tab2: the thing you always forget to click on in Excel, containing some horrific text you would never have chosen to translate


Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:57
English to German
+ ...
Screenshots Sep 7, 2013

Something that must never, ever be shown to the translator but will miraculously materialize when the translated software strings are sent back to the translator to be reworked because the strings are too long.


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
pdf Sep 7, 2013

the only form the text has ever existed in, until you explain that the price will be doubled unless they send you the original Word file


Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:57
English to German
+ ...
Accounting Sep 7, 2013

A mysterious species of nameless phantom people who, whilst the translator is inquiring about an overdue payment, apparently have the ability to develop spontaneous short-term pregnancies on Tuesdays, spend their Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays regularly at the dentist's office and on the remaining weekday have their day off.


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Funny glossary of translating

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