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Certification Glossary of Terms


‘A’ Language
A translator or interpreter’s mother tongue (or in some cases mother tongues) into which the person works from all his or her other working languages. It is the language the translator or interpreter writes and/or speaks best and in which they can easily express even complicated ideas. This definition was adapted from AIIC definition of ‘A’ language.

Application of Interpreting Mode
The skill to apply accepted techniques relevant to the interpreting mode and situation.

Application of Textual Norms and Conventions
The skill to apply the knowledge of textual norms and conventions of the target language to the target text. This entails the use of register, style and text structure appropriate to the genre and context of the translation.

Application of Translation Standards Knowledge (required for revising a translation)
The ability to justify revisions by appropriately identifying the type of errors.

A process that evaluates a person’s fulfilment of the requirements of the certification scheme.

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)
The AQF is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training. For more information see https://www.aqf.edu.au/.


‘B’ language
A language in which a translator or interpreter is perfectly fluent, but not a mother tongue. A translator or interpreter can work into this language from one or several of their other working languages. This definition was adapted from AIIC definition of ‘B’ language.

Brief (Interpreting)
The background information provided for each certification interpreting test task. Each description is a short summary of the contextual specifications of the interpreting task. Contextual specifications may include, but are not limited to, domain, text type of the source and target texts, interpreting situation and location, target reader/ audience, and reason for assignment.

Brief (Revision/Translation)
The brief provides information about the text task that must be taken into account to perform the revision or the translation tasks. This information includes the source text domain, the source text topic and the type of source text. It also includes a generic text purpose (persuasive/informative) and a generic audience (educated non-expert) applicable to both the source and the target texts.


An individual who sits or sat a NAATI assessment.

Confirmation that a candidate meets specific standards required to provide translation or interpreting services.

Certification Requirements
A set of specified requirements a candidate must meet in order to obtain or maintain certification.

Certification Scheme
Competence and other requirements related to specific occupational or skilled categories of persons. 

Certification Test
Assessment that measures whether a candidate is competent in specified areas of competency, e.g. translation or interpreting meaning transfer competency. If a candidate passes a certification test, they will be awarded with certification.

Certification Test Task
A component of a certification test. Each certification test is made up of several specific Certification Test Tasks.

‘C’ language
A language which a translator or interpreter understands perfectly but into which they do not work. They will translate or interpreter from this language into their ‘A’ or ‘B’ language/s. This definition was adapted from AIIC definition of ‘C’ language.

One of the interactional management techniques which can be used in discourse interpreting situations. This can occur through seeking more information or a repetition to clarify the meaning of poorly understood expressions and informing the other party that this is happening.

The network of conceptual/ semantic relations which organise and create a text/ utterance by establishing continuity of sense. It is achieved as a result of the interaction between knowledge presented in the text/ utterance and the reader’s/ audience’s own knowledge and experience of the world.

The network of lexical, grammatical and other relations which provide formal links between various parts of a text. Cohesion occurs whenever the comprehension of one feature in a text is dependent upon another elsewhere in the text.

Cohesive Devices
Linguistic features which bind a text together causing the sentence sequence to cohere. Five main cohesive devices in English are reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunction and lexical cohesion.

The tendency of certain words to co-occur regularly in a given language. A meaning within a collocation often depends on what other words it occurs with.

Demonstrated performance in an area of competency at or above a standard.

A set of KSAs an individual must have, or acquire, to successfully perform a specific task.

Complex (Language, message, situation etc.)
Containing various connected components (such as morphemes, clauses, ideas and conditions) which, as a whole, are meaningful, without recurrence or repetition of the same components.

Conference Interpreting
Interpreting practised at international summits, conferences, negotiations professional seminars, and bilateral or multilateral meetings of heads of state and government.

Consecutive Interpreting
Interpreting that occurs after a speaker/signer completed speaking/signing. The interpreter manages the discourse to break up utterances to interpret into the other language.

Consecutive interpreting may occur in various situations, including:

  • Consecutive (dialogue): Consecutive interpreting in a dialogue situation with 2 or more interlocutors
  • Consecutive (monologue): Consecutive interpreting in a situation where primarily one person speak/signs to an audience, e.g. during a speech.

The way in which a language is used which most people in the linguistic-cultural community expect and consider to be natural, polite or socially acceptable.

One of interactional management techniques which can be used in discourse interpreting situations. Interrupting the flow of the interaction where required to ensure full capture and comprehension of the chunk to be interpreted.


A bi-directional conversation between two or more interlocutors, mediated by an interpreter.

Direct Assessment
An assessment instrument is designed and used to specifically and directly measure whether an individual has a certain KSA, e.g. measuring grammar knowledge in a grammar test.

Written, spoken or signed communication.

Discourse Analysis
Analysis of language use in communication above sentence level.

An element of propositional content and intent in the source text/ utterance is altered in the target text/ interpretation.

A subject area in which interpreters and translators work, e.g. health, legal or education. Within each domain, interpreters and translators work in various situations and with various text types respectively.


Learning activities organized through a course that is part of the AQF and has a qualification outcome, e.g. Diploma or Masters degree.

Emerging Languages
Languages with a small but growing number of speakers in Australia. For example, new languages entering Australian society as a result of recent humanitarian intakes.

Error Category
The category of each error type that can be identified in the text to be revised. E.g.: distortion, unjustified omission, error of spelling, etc.).

Candidates are provided with a List of Error Categories on test day and will refer to this list to categorise the errors they identify in the text to be revised.


An assessment is fair if it provides an equal opportunity for success to each candidate who undertakes the assessment.

Fixed Expression
A phrase (a group of words) which is normally used in a set form with little or no variation. It tends to carry a meaning different from the meanings of the individual component words, but its meaning as a phrase is transparent.

Follow Translation Brief
The skill to produce a translation appropriate to the specifications (domain, topic, text type, readers and purpose of the text).


A text genre is a type of discourse characterised by a specific form, content, and style and associated with a specific communicative function. Genres form by socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time, e.g. the genre of operating instructions, the genre of tourism promotion, the genre of business reporting.

The set of rules which determine the way in which units such as words and phrases can be combined in a language and the kind of information which has to be made explicit or remain implicit in utterances.


A phrase (a group of words) the meaning of which is different from the meanings of the individual component words. An idiom often carries a meaning which cannot be deduced from the meanings of the individual words. An idiom allows no variation in form under normal circumstances.

(Use a language) Idiomatically
Use a language in the way that expressions read naturally or sound natural to an ‘A’ language user of the language.

Indirect Assessment
An assessment instrument that is designed and used to directly measure certain KSAs (see KSAs below) that may also be used to measure other KSAs in an indirect manner, e.g. a translation test can be used indirectly to measure an individual’s attention to detail, or employer references can be used to determine a practitioner’s collaboration.

Insertion (unjustified)
An element of propositional content or intent that does not exist in the source text/ utterance which is unjustifiably added in the target text/ interpretation.

Interactional Management
Manage (as opposed to conduct) an interaction in order to facilitate the communication, e.g. managing overlapping speech.

Interactional Management Skill
The skill to manage the interaction and coordinate communication. Coordination of communication may include dealing with overlapping talk and turn-taking, responding to asides, applying appropriate techniques for cutting-in, seeking clarification and self-correction.

A person taking part in communication, e.g. a speaker.

An interpreter transfers a spoken or signed message from one language (the source language) into a spoken or signed message in another language (the target language) for the purpose of communication between people who do not share the same language.

Interpreting Mode
A method of interpreting applied by the interpreter, appropriate to the situation of the interpreting, especially the forms of communication (i.e. written or oral) to be used in the source and target utterance/s, the speed and length of the source utterance/s and/or the size and linguistic composition of the audience. Different interpreting modes include consecutive, simultaneous and multi-mode. They are characterised by the timing of the start of the interpreting and the input and output forms.


Knowledge, Skills and Attributes. They refer to the requirements a translator or interpreter must have to successfully practise, e.g. meaning transfer skill.


Language Competency
The knowledge and skills required for translation or interpreting in at least two languages; a source language and a target language. Only a target language is directly assessed by NAATI certification tests. The candidate’s source language proficiency, which enables him or her to comprehend and analyse the source text/ utterance is not, nor can it be, directly assessed in NAATI certification tests; therefore, the language proficiency in source language is not included in the test task construct.

Language Proficiency (enabling meaning transfer for interpreting)
The linguistic skill to use spoken target language competently and idiomatically. This entails the use of pragmatics, cohesive devices, lexicon, grammar, syntax, style and register.

Language Proficiency (enabling meaning transfer for translation)
The linguistic skill to use written target language competently and idiomatically, in accordance with the norms of the target language. This entails the use of lexicon, grammar and syntactic structures, including orthography, terminology, collocation, and punctuations.

The entire vocabulary of a language. Specifically, knowledge that a native speaker has about a language. This includes information about semantics, categories of words, pragmatic use of words and phrases; and appropriateness of words and phrases in particular contexts.

Live Scenario
One of the components of the dialogue interpreting task paper. A live scenario consists of four components: interpreting brief, role descriptions (for English speaking role and LOTE speaking role), terminology list (for English terminology and LOTE terminology) and scenario prompts. A live scenario is written in English. Based on the live scenario, the English role play card and the LOTE role play card will be developed for multiple language pairs.

Language other than English.

Low Demand Languages
Languages for which the demand for translation and interpreting services in Australia is low.


Major Error
An error which causes inaccuracies in the propositional content and intent of the message to be transferred AND affects the purpose and function/s of the communication, and/or which impacts on comprehension of the target text or utterance.

Meaning Transfer Skill
The skill to translate or interpret the propositional content and intent of the source text/ utterance accurately and the ability to resolve all meaning transfer problem.

Minor Error
An error which only causes inaccuracies in the propositional content of the message to be transferred BUT neither affects the intent of the message nor the function/s of the communication, and/or which does not impact on the comprehension of the target text or utterance.

Monolingual Exchange
A monolingual interaction between two or more interlocutors, interpreted into another language for a third party.

A long speech, talk or account made by one interlocutor to an audience of one or more listeners.

Multi-Mode Interpreting
Interpreting in which the source utterance and target utterance use different forms of communication, i.e. written and oral. Multi-mode interpreting includes, but is not limited to, interpreting from a written text into an oral target language (sight translation) and interpreting a recorded oral source text into a written target text.


Containing a single or few connected components (such as morphemes, clauses, ideas and conditions) which, as a whole, are meaningful, at times with recurrence or repetition of the same components.

Something that is understood by a well-educated adult audience without particular knowledge or experience in a specific area, usually referring to language or themes.

A rule (not legally-binding) and generally agreed way of using a language which is prescriptive in nature. Violating norms in speech leads to negative evaluations or reactions from listeners.


Description of the design of an assessment that is demonstrably based on clearly stated criteria to minimise the influence of personal opinions or preferences.

Omission (unjustified)
An element of propositional content or intent which exists in the source text (or utterance) that is unjustifiably not transferred into the target text (or interpretation).

Oral Account
An oral explanation or outline of a process, situation or event.

The conventional use of letters, characters or signs in a language.

The stylistic or preferential editing of an element of the text to be revised (word, sentence, phrase) that is not one of the intended errors to be identified.

Overlapping Talk
An instance where two or more interlocutors talk and/or sign at the same time.


The utility of an instrument or process that indicates how practical it is to use in a given situation. High cost or unreasonably complex procedures may discourage use of an instrument or process, and render them impractical.

The aspect of interpreting which enables the source utterance intention and force to be equally conveyed in the target language utterance to achieve the same effect on the target audience as intended by the source speaker

Preparation Time
A set amount of time given to a candidate immediately before the candidate commences each of the consecutive interpreting tasks and sight translation tasks. At the start of the preparation time, the candidate will receive the interpreting brief for the upcoming task.

Competencies a candidate must have and standards they must meet before they are permitted to sit a certification test.

An item that can substitute for a noun or noun phrase.

Checking grammar and typography of a text to identify potential language errors.

Propositional Meaning (content)
Meaning which arises from the relationship between a linguistic form (written, spoken or signed), and what it refers to.

The marks used in writing that divide sentences and phrases.


Reacting to Asides
Reacting to an utterance directed at the interpreter instead of other interlocutor/s.

Certification is granted for a limited period of time, at the end of which the certified individual must provide evidence that they have maintained (or improved) the knowledge, skills and attributes which they demonstrated to gain certification. Recertification is the equivalent of the former revalidation system.

A variety of a language used appropriately and according to situational factors of the communication, i.e. the specific field, tenor and mode of the communication. This includes appropriateness for the purpose of the communication, relationships between the participants, and the form of the communication (e.g. whether written or spoken).

The important dimension of variation between registers is the degree of formality, ranging from informal to formal language according to specific topic, purpose, participants and form. Formal language strictly adheres to norms of language and is typically used in official situations, such as official speeches, and academic journal articles. Semi-formal language generally adheres to norms of language while using some colloquial language and is used in daily interactions with an unknown audience or persons of authority, e.g. consultation with a doctor or lawyer, information brochure. Informal language broadly adheres to but sometimes deviates from norms s of language and frequently includes colloquial language. It is used in casual interactions with family and close friends.

An assessment instrument is reliable if its items and scoring procedures function consistently and it provides similar results for candidates of similar ability from one assessment administration to another under comparable conditions of use.

Remote Interpreting
Interpreting via a technological medium. Remote interpreting includes telephone interpreting, and interpreting where one or all interlocutors are observed through a live video feed.

A bilingual process of comparing a translation with the source text to identify errors and proposing amendments to the translation to improve the translated text.

Revision Skills
The skills to:

  • Identify errors in the translation at word, phrase and sentence levels, by comparing the translation with the source text and assessing the translated text against the specifications of the brief.
  • Provide a revised version of the relevant word, phrase or sentence to result in an accurate, complete and coherent translation which is appropriate to the brief.
  • Improve the translation text as a meaningful whole passage as result of revision.


Rhetorical Skill
The skill to use productive language skills, i.e. speaking skills, appropriate to the specifications (domain and situation of the interpreting assignment, location where the dialogue takes place and participants’ names and roles) provided in the interpreting brief.

Rhetorical Techniques
Techniques to produce oral or signed language appropriate for specific situations. Techniques to project voice, use clear pronunciation and delivery and use appropriate tone and volume.

Role-Play Material
This is the document which role-players refer to during a live role-play. A live role-play always requires two versions of role-play materials: an English role-play material and a LOTE role-play material. Each role-play material consists of four components: interpreting brief, role descriptions (for the English-speaking role and LOTE-speaking role), terminology list (for the relevant language terminology) and scenario prompts. English role-players refer to an English role-play material and LOTE role-players refer to a LOTE role-play material. Both versions of role-play materials are produced based on a Live scenario.

A descriptive assessment scheme to determine the level of performance a candidate displays in a certification test. A rubric is presented as a matrix that provides scaled levels of performance (or bands) for each assessment criterion. The bands describe the different levels of attainment for each criterion of performance and in combination are used to determine whether the candidate has been successful or unsuccessful in the test.


Scenario Prompts
A series of alternating segments with cues and instructions on what the English and LOTE speaking role-players should say and how they should act during the live role-play. Alternating prompts are listed in a table format. Scenario prompts included in a Live scenario and role-play material consists of two parts: (1) introductory prompts with semi-scripted segments for greetings, introductions and briefing; and (2) dialogue prompts made up of a series of segments containing semantic groups.

Semantic Group
A processing unit of sound, meaning and syntax, and a group or sequence of words conveying a particular sense or idea. For example, the below statement can be considered to consist of 5 semantic groups. ‘We will try to get things under control/ so that the client’s situation does not get any worse./ Looking at the client’s expenditure,/ the client is over-committed/ by $250 a month’

Sight Translation
Interpreting a text written in one language into a spoken/signed message in another language.

Simultaneous Interpreting
Interpreting that occurs with minimal delay from the original utterance and while the speaker/signer continues to speak/sign.

Simultaneous interpreting may occur in various situations, including:

  • Simultaneous (monologue): simultaneous interpreting in a situation with one interlocutor with a smaller audience of one or more This may be whispered interpreting (chuchotage).
  • Simultaneous (booth): simultaneous interpreting from a booth, usually at conferences or summits for the delivery of speeches
  • Simultaneous (on stage): simultaneous interpreting of a monologue in front of a large audience (mainly signed languages).
  • Simultaneous (dialogue): simultaneous interpreting in a dialogue situation that involves at least one signing


Situation (of Interpreting)
The communicative situation where the interpreting is conducted including the location, roles of interlocutors, size of audience, language pair and technological medium used for the interpreting.

Source Language
The language in which a message originates. See also Target Language.

Something that is understood by a well-educated adult audience with particular knowledge or experience in the specific area, usually referring to language or themes.

A formal public address or lecture in a public situation delivered to an expert audience, e.g. UN summit address.

A determined minimum level of performance in an area of competency.

The variety of a language an individual writer, speaker or signer chooses to use within a particular register, for example factual, neutral or emotional style.

The way in which classes of words, such as nouns and verbs, and functional elements, such as subject and object, combine to form clauses and sentences.


A semi-formal public address or lecture delivered to a non-expert audience, e.g. health information session.

Target Language
The language into which a message is transferred. See also Source Language.

Task Material
The physical material NAATI produces for a test task. It includes the brief and task paper.

Task paper
The physical material NAATI produces for the section of a test task the candidate completes.

The set of technical words or expressions used in a particular subject

Text Type (type of text)
Categories of texts according to their main function: informative (transmit referential content), expressive (transmit aesthetic form) and operative (elicit desired outcome).

Thematic Competency
Knowledge in a particular topic or subject area

Tone (of voice)
The way a person is speaking to someone. Tone can vary according to the interpreting situation or the speaker’s feelings. E.g.: friendly, formal, aggressive, etc.

Learning activities organised through a course that is not part of the AQF and does not lead to the award of a qualification, but may lead to an acknowledgement of completion by the organisation delivering the course.

Transfer Competency
The knowledge and skills used to reproduce messages in a different language.

Transfer of a written message from one language (the source language) into a written message in another language (the target language) for the purpose of communication between a writer and reader who do not share the same language.

A type of organisation in conversation and discourse where participants speak one at a time in alternating turns.

Type of Communication
The mode/form of communication, e.g. written or spoken, formal or informal.


Unidiomatic Expression
Expression which reads unnaturally or sounds unnatural to an ‘A’ language user of the language.

A spoken or signed statement.


An assessment instrument is valid if it measures what it was designed to measure, that is, if it yields scores that allow test users to make accurate inferences about the targeted ability.

Voice/Sign Projection
The strength of speaking or singing whereby the voice or sign is used clearly.

Practitioner details

credential result