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What is a Translation Glossary and why do you need one?

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What is a Translation Glossary?

A translation glossary contains a list of a company’s or project’s key terminology in the source language and the approved translations in the target language. It can also contain other content-specific data and variables such as context, language varieties, definition and approval date or a list of terms that should not be translated such as brand names and slogans. The glossary will help the translator easily identify these terms and follow the client-approved methodology.

What should we include in it?

We should include all key company or project specific terms such as:

  • Brand/Company names
  • Product names
  • Trademarks
  • Corporate slogans
  • Acronyms
  • UI buttons and options
  • Frequently used terms
  • Units of measure
  • Non-translatable terms

The process of creating a translation glossary

Depending on the project, a translation glossary can be created either at the beginning or after we have gathered a significant amount of translated documents for an account. Using automated glossary extraction technology that identifies terms based on their frequency and use in texts, these apps provide a list of terms and their translations that serve as a first, raw edition of a glossary. Then these terms need to be validated for correct usage by the translation team and by the client’s local reviewers.

Ensuring consistency

In any good translation, consistency is key. A translation glossary helps to eliminate uncertainty about specific troubling terms, thus ensuring consistency between the translated versions of a company’s documentation. Maintaining consistency is even more important if more than one translation resource is involved in the translation process. In case of tight deadlines, many translators may be working on various documents of a project simultaneously in order to meet a specific deadline.

Without a translation glossary and specific guidelines laid at the beginning of the project, each linguist will end up using the translation that he/she sees fit and you might end up with two, three or even more versions of a term. For example, haven’t you ever noticed when a User Guide prompts you to click on a button that is worded differently in the software itself? This would have been avoided if a glossary was created and shared with the linguists up front.

Less time for translation

When translators are confused and uncertain about specific terms, they will send queries. Query management and answering requires a significant amount of time and as a result, slows down the translation process. A comprehensive glossary will help minimize translators’ questions and will increase their speed. In fast turnaround projects, when there is almost no time for back-and-forths between the linguists and the client, an existing glossary can prove to be a life-saver!

A work in progress

Think of your translation glossary as a work in progress, a living, breathing document that needs to be constantly updated with new terms. If your translators come up with a new frequently used term or if they have questions about a particular term, then this should be added in the glossary. The glossary should grow along with your business, your services and your products, and it will end up being your most valuable asset for quality translations.

If you need help creating your own translation glossary, check our Language Asset Management services.

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