You’ll find a glossary below of some of the key translation words and phrases you’ll come across when engaging someone to translate copy for you. If you come across a phrase that isn’t listed here, then please feel free to contact us for an explanation.

Commercial translations

Covering a wide field of life science, technical and non-technical subject areas, Languages for Life can provide the best language solutions appealing to many companies and industries. For a no obligation quote, all we require is the word count and the purpose for which the translation is intended (for information only or for publication).


Some companies do not have a representative to approve the translation so this service is highly recommended to those clients. It allows for a second, equally qualified translator to check the accuracy, consistency and style of the original translation against the source text.


Copy-editing goes beyond the checking stage and is of particular interest to publishers. Do you have a text that is written by a non-native speaker or by several authors, or one that is not quite up to scratch stylistically? We help many companies with this service. Our copy-editors are trained to screen a text for style, grammar, consistency and accuracy. The aim of the copy-editor is to arrive at a final text that reads as well in translation as the original, and preferably better.

Editing to fit

As most European languages tend to expand by 15 to 25% compared to English, we are aware of the difficulties involved in fitting translations into a fixed layout. Editing to fit may involve rewording text and in some instances cutting non-essential information in order to get the text to fit. We work with a number of companies in this way and ensure a sensitive approach in order to achieve the right result.


Very few companies have a member of staff with good proofreading skills. Our proofreaders are trained to check the presentation of a text in its final layout. They look specifically for typing errors, inconsistencies in layout and font, incorrect word breaks, missing text, captions etc. Textual inaccuracies, however, should be picked up by the checker or copy-editor at an earlier stage.

Back translation

Back translation is the process of taking a document that has already been translated into a foreign language and translating it back to the original language, by an independent translator. For example, back translation can improve the reliability and validity of research in different languages by requiring that the quality of a translation is verified by an independent translator translating back into the original language. Original and back translated documents can then be compared to check that the initial translation has been understood correctly. Due to its high cost, this service is not overly common, but Languages for Life understands the regulations imposed by certain groups of authorities and we are happy to provide this service to our clients.


Translation companies like Languages for Life offer a full range of services. We know there’s more to Americanizing a text than changing -ise to -ize and taking the ‘u’ out of ‘colour’. Languages for Life can help ensure that not only spelling, but also grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, dates and measurements are attuned to the target audience. We help many companies by advising on a mid-Atlantic compromise to reach the widest possible audience with a single English-language edition. This service can also be offered to other English-speaking countries, such as Australia and New Zealand.