German Language

Glossary of frequently used terms


Adaptation of a text to the requirements of a different culture and/or target audience.


An apostille (the certification of a certification) is the certification of all official signatures, including the signature of the translator who is authorised by a court to produce the certified translation. An apostille is often required by foreign governmental agencies in cases where a certified translation produced in Germany is to be used abroad. This is because the apostille provides the foreign officials with proof that the signature of the translator in Germany is valid. It is used to simplify legal transactions and is issued by German courts. Should the recipient of your translated certificate request an apostille, the Landgericht Darmstadt (Darmstadt Regional Court) can provide one for translators in the Darmstadt region who are authorised to produce certified translations.

BDÜ’s Code of Professional Conduct

All translators and interpreters represented on this website are obligated to comply with the BDÜ’s Code of Professional Conduct.

BDÜ – Germany’s Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators

BDÜ, our professional association, has more than 6,000 members, all of whom have proven qualifications as translators and/or interpreters. More information about the organisation and its standards can be found under "About us" in the English version of the association’s website:

Certified translations

Translations of official documents such as birth or marriage certificates must frequently be certified. Only certain translators (ermächtigte Übersetzer) are authorised to produce certified translations, which bear their signature, a statement confirming the translation’s accuracy, and the translator’s stamp. The translator charges a fee for this service.

Consecutive interpreting

Consecutive interpreting means that the interpreter renders spoken texts into another language after the speaker has finished the speech in the original language. For longer texts, the speaker interrupts the speech so that individual segments can be rendered into the target language. Apart from a microphone (depending on the room and the number of listeners), no special conference equipment is necessary. However, the additional time required for the interpreting should be included into any calculation of the time involved, as the length of the speech will at least double because of the interspersed interpreting.

Court-authorised interpreter (vereidigter Dolmetscher)

The title of "general court-authorised interpreter" (allgemein vereidigter Dolmetscher) is granted by the president of the Landgericht (Regional Court) with jurisdiction over the interpreter’s place of residence. A general court-authorised interpreter is required for notarisations and court cases, and often for private events such as marriages at a registry office as well. If you need a court-authorised interpreter, a current list for your region can be found at the Landgericht.

Court-authorised translator (ermächtigter Übersetzer)

Translators are granted this authorisation by the regional court of the area in which they legally reside, and can then officially confirm the accuracy and completeness of the translation they have produced. Certified translations are recognised by governmental agencies within Germany (registry offices, courts, etc.).

If the translation is intended for use abroad, an apostille (the certification of a certification) may be required by the recipient there.

Creative texts

Examples of creative texts are marketing brochures, advertisements and other texts which convey emotions in addition to providing information. They must usually be skilfully written and targeted at a specific audience or adapted to a specific situation. Since emotional expression varies from culture to culture, the translator must know how to reach the readers in the target culture. Finding the right wording can be difficult, and the translation often requires much more time than could be predicted based on the length of the text alone and is thus billed by an hourly rate rather than by line. As a rule of thumb, you should consider how much time you yourself have spent on texts of this kind in your native language, and allow the translator at least as much time!

DIN EN 15038:2006

(German industrial standard regulating translation services)

This industrial standard defines the requirements that translators must fulfil during translation to ensure a high-quality result (e.g. the proofreading rule). The BDÜ members not only fulfil the minimum requirements stipulated in the standard; the BDÜ’s own requirements actually exceed them markedly in many cases. DIN EN 15038 is an excellent starting point that can be used when translators and clients are agreeing on the details of the translation process.


Editing services are provided where an already existing text in a specific language is modified by a native speaker. The changes made can involve spelling, grammar, style, terminological consistency and, in some cases, the accuracy of the content.


Glossaries for certain fields are standard tools for modern translators and interpreters. In the past, they were maintained on paper; of course, they are digital now! Many translators work with modern terminology management systems.


Interpreting is the oral rendition of a spoken text from one language into the other (see also Simultaneous interpreting, Consecutive interpreting, Negotiation interpreting).


(German law regulating remuneration in the justice system)

This law regulates the fees to be received by experts, interpreters and translators as well as the remuneration for volunteer judges, witnesses and third parties in courts and certain governmental agencies. It was last amended on 22 December 2006 and also stipulates the fees to which interpreters and translators are entitled when working in court cases. The law states that interpreters must receive 55 euros per hour (Paragraph 9 Section 3); the rate for translations is between 1.25 and 4.00 euros per standard line (Paragraph 11 Section 1).

Negotiation interpreting

Negotiation interpreting means that the interpreter renders texts spoken in a discussion setting between two or more participants into another language. This can include court cases, trade fair visits or sales negotiations.


For translations, the decisive factors in determining the fee are the length of the text, the language combination, and the text’s degree of difficulty. Translators usually charge a minimum fee for very short translations.

Fees for other services, such as editing or the adaptation of already existing texts are often based on an hourly rate. The same applies to the translation of creative texts into another language.

An additional fee is charged by court-authorised translators for a certified translation.

Fees for interpreting services are based on daily or hourly rates, which in turn are determined by the language combination and the degree of difficulty of the text to be interpreted. These rates are agreed in advance, and include the reimbursement of travel costs, either per kilometre travelled or as a fixed amount, as well as the hourly rates for the interpreting work itself. A flat-rate travel allowance may also be agreed in advance. The client must bear the expense of a hotel stay and meals if the interpreter requires overnight accommodation.

The JVEG (German law regulating remuneration in the justice system) can also be used as a guideline for agreeing fees for interpreters’ or translators’ services. It regulates the interpreter’s hourly rates and the fees for translations. Services are charged by line based on the definition of a standard line (55 strokes).

Proofreading rule

The industrial translation norm DIN EN 15038 recommends independent proofreading. This means that a second translator specialising in the same language combination and field reviews the translation. This is especially necessary where a text is to be published and/or printed.

Simultaneous interpreting

Simultaneous interpreting takes place at events such as conferences. The interpreter renders the speech into the target language as it is spoken in the original. This requires interpreting booths as well as headsets for members of the audience. A conference can be simultaneously interpreted into several languages where there is a sufficient number of booths and interpreters. The increased expense this method involves is compensated for by the fact that it saves time (see also Consecutive interpreting).

Source text

This is the text to be translated. Ideally, you will be able to provide us with a digital copy of the source text in a format that enables us to use a standard word processing programme (such as MS Word) to produce a translation using the original document. We also accept source texts in the form of PDF files or printouts, and can work with certain exchange format DTP programmes (Framemaker, Interleaf, etc.)

Target text

This is the translated text.

Terminology management

For a text dealing with a specific field that is to be understood and taken seriously by readers in the target language, the correct terminology must be used in the translation. Once the right translation for a specific term has been found, it must be used consistently throughout the text and in all subsequent texts dealing with the same topic.

This is why translators and interpreters compile and maintain glossaries, which can now be managed and applied using modern technology management systems. The client’s input is especially important, as companies in the same sector often each use their own special term for the same object (to name one problem). The translator must be informed of these differences.


A translation is the rendition of a written text into the target language.

Translation memory systems

Special translation software allows translators to store their translations and to access parts of them later as a reference if they need to translate similar or identical texts. Especially in the case of detailed technical documentation, this guarantees that the same terms and phrases will be used throughout, helping to avoid misunderstandings. Existing documents can be more quickly updated and the results are more consistent. The translators in our network work with different programmes, including SDLStudio, SDLTrados, SDLX, DéjàVu, Across and Wordfast. For more details, please see the translators’ individual profiles.

Whispered interpreting

Whispered interpreting (also known as "chuchotage") is the simultaneous oral rendition of a spoken text from one language into the other, but the translation is whispered, as it is performed without a booth.