Glossary Creation

Why is a glossary translation important?

Every business seeks to have its own identity, and part of this identity is expressed through the particular use of language.

Language can be used to in many different ways to refer to the same thing, and it is these nuances of tone, in choosing particular words and phrases, that distinguish your company and brand from your competitors.

So if you wish to communicate with your multinational prospects and customers, you want to ensure that your translated content reflects the personality of your company accurately and consistently.

Creating a translation of glossary words, terms and phrases, and keeping it up to date removes ambiguity for translators. It makes sure that each time a defined key term appears, in any language, it is used consistently and correctly.

When should glossaries be created?

Glossaries should be created before any translation of content is started. Time and any necessary expense should be allowed to undertake this procedure. For time spent in glossary creation reduces time in undertaking translations, reduces errors, ensures consistency and provides peace of mind to translators and clients that the translations will be done according to prescribed and agreed guidelines.

It is generally accepted that approximately 15% of all translation project costs arise from reworking, and the primary cause of rework is inconsistent terminology.

Who should create glossaries?

The best glossaries are created with the collaboration and input of key stakeholders: the creators of the source content, the users of the translated content in local markets and the LSP or translators who create the glossaries.

If you do not have reviewers available in your local markets who are involved in the marketing or sales of your company’s products, who can approve your glossary translation, you should engage your LSP to research the local market to track down the most appropriate translation of your company’s key terms.

What should a glossary include?

Glossaries should be as short as possible; the larger it is the more difficult it will be for translators to use. Glossaries should be business specific and only contain key terms that are relevant to your company’s products or services.

Be disciplined: only one translation for one term. Offering multiple translation options completely negates the exercise of offering certainty and consistency for translators.

Glossaries should contain information about context as well as definition.

Examples of glossary terms include:

Brand names, trademarks
Frequently used terminology specifically created for your company/product
Job titles
Terms that should never be translated

How are glossaries created?

For a new project, create glossaries on the source copy specific to that project.

For copy that has already been translated, and approved, base your glossaries on the translated content. If you have legacy source and translated content in the same file formats your LSP will be able to speed this process by aligning them to mine for specific terms.

Remember to focus on the key terminology relating to your company’s product or service.

The glossary is not a substitute for a dictionary. It is a helpful tool and guide for translators that should be straightforward to use. As such, it will help ensure that all your translated content meets your company’s quality thresholds.

Where should glossaries be kept?

The main glossaries should reside with your LSP or translators, who can update and amend them when necessary. But copies should also be given to local reviewers in target markets to ensure that no one is going rogue and introducing terms and phrases that have not been agreed by all stakeholders.

Glossaries are not static documents. They should develop and be amended over time to match new language requirements. They need to be regularly reviewed depending on the ongoing amount of content being translated. A good discipline is every six to twelve months.