Common terms in sworn translation

Learn more about the main terms of sworn translation, which are essential when performing this type of service

Translation is a field of study in its own. It is also a very complex industry, involving several processes, procedures, quality guidelines, teams of experts and software programs.

Therefore, it is not surprising that many clients raise their eyebrows when they are exposed to some of the sworn translation terms.

Do you or your company plan to use a translation agency services for the first time?

If the answer is yes, then you will find this article quite useful.

The purpose is to present – in an understandable way – some of most commonly used terms by translation companies when communicating with their clients.

So, let’s get started and clear your doubts about the sworn translation terminology, which may be unknown or vaguely familiar until now.

List of the main sworn translation terms

Sworn translation

Also known as public translation, it is the translation that guarantees the authenticity of documents in a foreign language in Brazil.

Digital sworn translation

Sworn translation with digital signature. It involves less bureaucracy than the traditional procedure, in addition to lower costs.

Sworn translator

Professional responsible for carrying out the sworn translations. Sworn translators have to be approved in a civil service teste and are known as public translators and commercial interpreters.

Authority to attest documents

Ensures the legal validity of a document. With it, any public or private body recognizes the truth and value of the document.

Copies of a sworn translation

When more than one copy of the sworn translation needs to be issued, the sworn translator can be requested to provide one or more copies, that is, to provide the exact reproduction of this translated document, together with the issuance of the original sworn translation or even at some point later.

Source language

The source language is the language from which we translate. For example, if you have a German document that needs to be translated into Swedish, the source language is German.

Target language

The target language is the language into which we translate. In the example given above, Swedish is the target language, since we will translate into it. A translation project can have more than one target language.

For example, you can have a German text that needs to be translated into English, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Dutch and Spanish.

Language pair

The source and target languages represent the language pair. Let’s say that a document has to be translated from Spanish into Portuguese, so the language pair is Spanish / Portuguese. It is important to note that we specify the source language first and the target language second.

Another important detail about language pairs is that, for the sake of brevity, most of the time, we indicate them using specific language codes. The code for English is EN, for Portuguese is PT, for Dutch is NL, for Spanish is ES and for Italian is IT, for example.

Therefore, if the source language is Spanish and the target language is Italian, chances are that the language pair will be referred to as “ES-IT”. These are standard codes suggested by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and are widely used in the translation industry.

CAT Tools

In the language industry, CAT is an acronym for computer-aided translation. Some also call it computer-assisted translation.

Basically, CAT tools are software programs that address several practical issues related to the entire translation process. They are full of features that improve efficiency and quality, reduce response times and make it easier for translators, proofreaders and project managers to work.

Some language service providers purchase out-of-the-box CAT tools, while others invest resources in developing their own unique internal translation software.


Back-translation is the process of translating the target language into the source language by a second translator.

Back-translation not always guarantees accuracy, as the second translator will not detect possible errors such as incorrect numbers and may even introduce errors in the text.

Each language allows flexibility in the choice of words and this choice can only be considered accurate by understanding the original text.


This is the stage of the written translation in which the draft is compared with the source language text and information is confirmed as translated accurately.

Idiomatic translation

This is where the meaning of the original text is translated into forms that more accurately and naturally preserve the meaning of the original text.

Interlinear translation

Interlinear translation is a service in which each line of text in the source language has a line placed directly below it, which provides a literal and word-for-word translation into a target language.

Literal translation

Literal translation is a type of translation in which the forms of the original text are maintained as much as possible.

Automatic translation

It can be either a translation produced by a computer program, or an automatic program to translate a text without human intervention.


Proofreading is the process of reading a text to identify errors, inconsistencies, grammar problems, incorrect punctuation, bad or inappropriate style, and compliance with the source text.

A word puzzle that makes a difference

This article was a quick introduction to some of the sworn translation terms and the most common concepts used in communication between language service providers and their customers.

Therefore, next time you contact a translation agency, you will be prepared to handle specific jargon and will be able to dialogue as a well-informed and experienced client about sworn translation services.

If you need any kind of translation solution, please contact Fidelity Translations to help you. Contact us and we will be very happy to serve your needs. 

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