DNT – what is it? And what is it good for?



Not every word should be translated when translating technical and scientific texts: some terms should be kept in the original language. These terms should be determined before starting the translation, then compiled on a "DNT List" (where DNT means "Do not translate").

What terms should NOT be translated?

  • Trademarks that have not been translated into the target language and whose localization would thus hamper their unequivocal identification;
  • The names of products, product lines, software, hardware or technologies which have been registered and are being marketed in the country of the target language using the name in the original language and thus should be maintained to avoid conflicting information. Such discrepancies in the name of the product can create difficulties for users/consumers when using documentation associated with the product;
  • Terms in the original language which represent the accepted and frequently used term in the scientific community or in the medical, pharmaceutical or other pertinent sectors. In this case, an equivalent translation may exist, although less commonly used and potentially causing difficulties in interpreting the text. Such is the case with terms such as: PCR ("polymerase chain reaction"), carryover, and flutter, among others;
  • The names of companies or business groups;
  • The slogans of a product or company, due to internal guidelines, should be kept in the original language;
  • Terms in the original language that are commonly used in company documents and communications, following internal guidelines, even when not the most frequently used outside the company;
  • Programming strings should be kept as shown in the original language since they refer to the programming language and are not intended to convey direct information.


How is DNT used in translation?

Once the DNT list has been determined, it should be provided to translators for constant quick reference over the entire linguistic process of translation, revision and quality assurance. This is because a base list helps the translator in the process by clarifying approaches for certain types of occurrences, thereby avoiding many obstacles to the process.

Let us imagine a scenario where the name of a product or brand is an expression with a direct translation into the target language, such as "The Flow". If a DNT list is not provided, the translator must search to determine whether it corresponds to a product name or brand and whether a commonly used translation exists. According to the search results, they may opt for the translation or send a query to the customer concerning the specific term.

Now, imagine it is a new product or brand without any results in the target language: the absence of a DNT list will inevitably result in a longer translation time. And potentially even a final text requiring subsequent changes per guidelines pre-established at the company in question.

The scenario described only considers a single term; however, technical and scientific texts can be extremely extensive and may contain many terms and expressions falling within the criteria described above.

Faster, more reliable translation

In this way, determining DNT terms in advance for a project allows for a faster translation and ensures better quality and conformity with the company's guidelines, reducing the need for reworking.

It is a practice that we recommend.

If you need assistance, we will be happy to speak with you.

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