How do I translate an acronym when this acronym changes letters in target language?
Thread poster: Fredrik Pettersson

Fredrik Pettersson  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Member (2009)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Aug 11, 2009

"Enable Router Advertisement Daemon (radvd)">"Aktivera Routerannonsering Daemon (radvd)"

I have translated this from English into Swedish using the same acronym also in Swedish. But radvd is an acronym for Router ADVertisement Daemon, and in the Swedish translation the letters in the acronym have changed. Have I done correct to leave the original acronym intact?


MariusJacobsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:18
English to Norwegian
+ ...
A few options Aug 11, 2009

You might not need to use an acronym at all. It depends on the target audience. If there is no official equivalent in Swedish, I would be very careful about making one up. If you decide to create one, you should at least confirm it with the project manager and / or company.

Another way of doing it is using the original acronym in front of the Swedish translation. E.g.: radvd Aktivera Routerannonsering Daemon This is perfectly legitimate, but you should still confirm it with the project manager.

Hope this helpsicon_smile.gif



Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 23:18
German to Serbian
+ ...
Internationally recognized acronyms Aug 11, 2009

Internationally recognized acronyms in English are to be left in English. Ideally, you will add full original name + acronym in brackets after the translation.

The only exception is if there is already a set acronym in the target language for the given notion that's in common usage.


Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sometimes the acronym is used only once Aug 11, 2009

Sometimes they mention agencies and companies with acronyms only once. In that case, I leave the acronym out completely.


Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:18
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
include source term in brackets Aug 11, 2009

In some contexts, I've found it useful to continue using the source acronym, inserting the full source term in brackets or as a translator's footnote on first mention so that the reader can see where it comes from.


Michael Barnett
Local time: 17:18
+ ...
The Canadian experience (English/French) Aug 11, 2009

Everything here is changed according to the target language acronym.
See, for example the translation of the famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

In the medical field AIDS(Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) becomes SIDA, STD(Sexually transmitted disease) becomes MTS, COPD(Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) becomes MPOC, etc.



Carla Selyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:18
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Start building your glossary of acronyms Aug 13, 2009

Acronyms are always very difficult to translate and I agree with your dilemma.

I would advise you to start building your glossary of acronyms and am in total agreement with Kathryn Litherland, sometimes it is easier to use the source acronym if you can't find a rendition in the target language.

There are also some standard acronyms which are used, as Michael Barnett has said about the Canadian experience. Some organisations such as the UN have got lists of acronyms used and it is always best to try and find out what the acronym means before proceeding with an attempt at a translation. What I do sometimes is use the source acronym and then put a translation in square brackets next to it, then continue to use the source acronym throughout the text.

All the best



Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:18
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Use only recognised acronyms Aug 14, 2009

Fredrik Pettersson wrote:
Have I done correct to leave the original acronym intact?

Yes. I know from personal experience that it is impossible to set up wireless networking on the Afrikaans version of Windows XP because the translator localised the abbreviations, and no amount of guesswork could help me figure out which three-letter acronym in the English help files relates to which three-letter acronym in the Afrikaans graphical user interface. And there are many TLAs out there...


Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:18
Portuguese to English
+ ...
The case of Portuguese Aug 14, 2009

In Portuguese, most (but not all) acronyms are lusitanised and here the normal practice is to translate them.

For example:

English: NATO is an important treaty organisation.
Portuguese: A OTAN é uma importante organização de tratados.

English: The International Labour Organisation (ILO) was founded in 1949.
Portuguese: A Organização Internacional do Trabalho (OIT) foi fundada em 1949.

(Notice the use of the article: "a" OTAN, which would literally be "the NATO".

Others include: DST- Doenças Sexualmente Transmissíveis (STD = Sexually Transmitted Diseases); OPEP - Organização dos Países Exportadores de Petróleo (OPEC = Organisation of Petroleum-Exporting Countries).

Non-lusitanised acronyms include: UNICEF, UNESCO, FIFA, LAN (internet).

AIDS is an interesting case, in Portugal they say "o SIDA" /SEE-duh/ but here "a AIDS" (pronounced /EYE-dz/). One possible explanation is that in Brazil there is a common name "Cida" which is pronounced just like SIDA - the name is not common in Portugal as far as I know. To avoid association with the name, Brazil has decided to keep the original, albeit with a tupiniquim pronunciation.

When talking about Brazilian institutions in English-language texts, the first time I always include the original with an explanation:

Example: The Brazilian Television System (Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão - SBT)
If the acronym appears again, I just mention it.

I hope this helps.

(Tupiniquim is a Native Brazilian tribe, and the word is often used as an adjective to refer to Brazil as a country.)

[Edited at 2009-08-14 15:05 GMT]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:18
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Keep the original if it is something people search for on the Net Aug 15, 2009

Norstrands have published a handy book of acronyms in Swedish/used in Swedish. I'm on holiday and can't give the reference right now, but it's useful if you can find it. Not exhaustive, of course, but you can see the principles.

Scandinavian languages do tend to keep the English originals very often, though it is hard to generalise.


George Hopkins
Local time: 23:18
Swedish to English
Home-made Aug 16, 2009

Home-made acronyms and abbreviations are a pain. If generally accepted versions are not available I tend to avoid them in a translation. However, no hard and fast rule -- I sometimes make a note in WordFinder; an indispensable aid in which to save 'new' words, etc.


George Trail  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:18
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Use asterisks Apr 11, 2010

Here's what I'd do: just write the foreign term unchanged right in the translated document and put it in italics, with an asterisk for a footnote that lets you describe / explain it in the target language with full red-blooded sentences.


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

How do I translate an acronym when this acronym changes letters in target language?

Advanced search

WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running, helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features, ensures new

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search