Is IFRS terminology something that is carved in stone?
Thread poster: Astrid Elke Witte

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:49
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Dec 12, 2006

I have just completed the translation of half an IFRS handbook, and am busy proofreading it, but have been interrupted by the agency now, at this stage, sending me 6 pages of closely-typed, small print terminology, in two columns in a Word table, headed "IFRS Terminology" and asking me to incorporate these exact terms, at this stage of the proceedings. I have an argument with the agency about this having been sent to me after, instead of before, translating. However, as far as I know, I have not been negligent. I tried to find an "official" list of IFRS terminology on the Internet before I began, and there did not appear to be such a thing. However, everyone talks about "IFRS terminology" as if it were some specific source, carved in stone. Why is nothing then available?

Now what I do not know is whether this list I have been sent is "official" and whether I am therefore obliged to go back through several weeks' worth of translations and change all the terms. Frankly, I am not impressed with such entries as "Geschäftssegment" = "business segment". To my UK English ears, it is "business sector". There are many others where I find that what I have already written is an improvement on what is suggested in this list.

However, I do not want to complete the job "wrongly" if I am expected to be aware of and use an official list in the first place. Where do I stand with this, and can the translations of any "IFRS" terms be altered, or improved upon, or are they set in stone for all time?

Astrid


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Giorgia Mele
Italy
Local time: 05:49
English to Italian
+ ...
Link to Iasplus for IAS/IFRS terminology Dec 12, 2006

Hallo Astrid,
have a look at this site http://www.iasplus.com/standard/standard.htm.
Based on the number assigned to each standard you should be able to find the official translation.
Giorgia
Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

I have just completed the translation of half an IFRS handbook, and am busy proofreading it, but have been interrupted by the agency now, at this stage, sending me 6 pages of closely-typed, small print terminology, in two columns in a Word table, headed "IFRS Terminology" and asking me to incorporate these exact terms, at this stage of the proceedings. I have an argument with the agency about this having been sent to me after, instead of before, translating. However, as far as I know, I have not been negligent. I tried to find an "official" list of IFRS terminology on the Internet before I began, and there did not appear to be such a thing. However, everyone talks about "IFRS terminology" as if it were some specific source, carved in stone. Why is nothing then available?

Now what I do not know is whether this list I have been sent is "official" and whether I am therefore obliged to go back through several weeks' worth of translations and change all the terms. Frankly, I am not impressed with such entries as "Geschäftssegment" = "business segment". To my UK English ears, it is "business sector". There are many others where I find that what I have already written is an improvement on what is suggested in this list.

However, I do not want to complete the job "wrongly" if I am expected to be aware of and use an official list in the first place. Where do I stand with this, and can the translations of any "IFRS" terms be altered, or improved upon, or are they set in stone for all time?

Astrid


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 05:49
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
IASB Dec 12, 2006

Hi Astrid!

In the "Comments EU Committee" section of "International Financial Reporting Standards" published by the IDW-Verlag (bilingual German/ENglish edition):

"The International Accounting Standards (IASs) and the Interpretations of the Standing Interpretations Committee (SICs) referred to in this paper are those that were adopted by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in April 2001, when the IASB endorsed the body of IASs issued by its predecessor, the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). The accounting standards that the IASB will develop will be called International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) and the interpretations fo teh IFRSs will be published as interpretations of teh International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRICs)."

Basically, this means that IASs and IFRSs were all initially prepared in English by the IASB. That means that the terminology used by the IASB in these original English documents should be used to prevent any misinterpretations (e.g. the difference between accruals and provisions - an accrual under US GAAP accounting has a different composition than a provision under IFRSs).

The problem with German IFRS documents is that not all German accountants exactly follow the standard German terminology as given in the official translations of these standards. But as translators we must try to ensure that the translation is correct - and avoid incorrect translations such as the accruals/provisions example I just mentioned.

The next problem with IFRS terminology is that there is no simple "terminology list" - at least not one that's publicly available. All the translators I know working in this area have painstakingly put together their own terminology lists from books such as the one I quoted above.

FWIW

Alison


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 05:49
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Sectors and segments Dec 12, 2006

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Frankly, I am not impressed with such entries as "Geschäftssegment" = "business segment". To my UK English ears, it is "business sector".

Astrid


This is based on IAS 14 "Segment reporting" which contains specific details of the information that the reporting entities have to provide on their business segments. "Business sector" is correct in general business terms, but in financial reporting they do talk about segments.

Alison


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:49
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, Alison Dec 12, 2006

Hi Alison,

Thanks very much for all the information. Anyhow, now I am busy proofreading my documents again against the six pages of terminology that the agency sent. The agency apologised for not sending the list earlier - the person who compiled it has only just finished. I guess it is a useful list, anyway, for future projects of the kind as well, if this terminology has to be very exact.

I haven't, up to now, been used to being told by anybody how to translate anything.

Astrid


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:49
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The link for the IAS/IFRS terminology Dec 12, 2006

Hi Giorgia,

Your link did not work just now, but I think it is probably the page that I did find on the Internet a few weeks ago. It gave the standard in both English and German. However, there seemed to be no easy way to copy it all and make a TM out of it. Thanks, anyway.

Astrid

[Edited at 2006-12-12 14:05]


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:49
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Parallel English and German texts of IFRSs -> http://www.ifrs-portal.com/ Dec 12, 2006

Hi Astrid,

You may also have a look at http://www.ifrs-portal.com/ where the English and German versions of the IFRSs are available.

Steffen


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:49
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the link, Steffen! Dec 12, 2006

I will do a little bit more reading on the topic prior to translating the second half of that manual.

Astrid


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:49
German to English
7 sheep/500 sheep Dec 13, 2006

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote: However, everyone talks about "IFRS terminology" as if it were some specific source, carved in stone. Why is nothing then available?


Astrid,

As I tried to hammer home at the IFRS seminar I ran in Düsseldorf the other week, there are "seven sheep" terms that are carved in stone (e.g. Rückstellung = provision), and there are "500 sheep" terms where a number of acceptable synonyms are possible, depending on the context (e.g. Umsatzerlöse = revenue, revenues, sales revenue, sales revenues - but not merely "sales").

I assume that you have the full IFRS Bound Volume available in both English and German (preferably in electronic form, i.e. either the CD-ROM or the online version of IFRSs, both available on subscription from the IASCF). You certainly shouldn't even think about translating an IFRS accounting manual without these - and many other - resources.

You are right in that - apart from the glossary in the bound volume - there is no De/En dictionary of IFRSs available, and basically you have to do your own research. However, that is no barrier to researching the terminology and identifying the correct terms to use. If you're doing it for the first time, though, it will inevitably take time.

Now what I do not know is whether this list I have been sent is "official" and whether I am therefore obliged to go back through several weeks' worth of translations and change all the terms. Frankly, I am not impressed with such entries as "Geschäftssegment" = "business segment". To my UK English ears, it is "business sector". There are many others where I find that what I have already written is an improvement on what is suggested in this list.


As Alison has already pointed out, "business segment" is the correct term of art. I therefore imagine that the list you have been sent has been culled from the Standards, possibly with some client-specific variations. And to be perfectly frank, I'm somewhat astonished that you should question such an absolutely bog-standard accounting term. You can't invent IFRS terminology, and - again as Alison has already pointed out - English is the base language here, so the real trick is to make the bridge between what is essentially a German translation and the English original - sort of reverse engineering, if you like.

can the translations of any "IFRS" terms be altered, or improved upon, or are they set in stone for all time?


"Improve" upon them at your peril, because you'll have to be able to justify your alternative terminology by advancing some pretty in-depth accounting knowledge. Basically, IFRSs already provide you with a fantastic bilingual corpus that's incredibly rich in first-class terminology, so why bother changing it?

Now that I've stepped down from coordinating the IFRS German review committee, I'll maybe - just maybe - have enough time to think about writing a German/English IFRS glossary, but don't hold your breath...


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