What is a Translation Glossary and Why Do You Need One?

What is a Translation Glossary and Why Do You Need One?

Translation glossaries act as an index of a company’s approved translations for specific words, in both the source and target language. In short, a translation glossary is extremely helpful for ensuring language consistency and accuracy across multiple projects. Let’s break down everything you need to know about what translation glossaries are, how one can benefit you, and how to use one.

What is a Translation Glossary?

A translation glossary can come in a few forms, but serves the same purpose, to help eliminate any uncertainty in the translation process, while increasing consistency and decreasing the amount of time and money it takes to complete a translation project

Translation glossaries vary greatly and can be very sophisticated or they can be nice and simple. A spreadsheet that tracks terms can do the trick to start. This spreadsheet can then later become a termbase that integrates with CAT tools. This is when translation glossaries are their most useful, as translators don’t have to keep searching for terms, they just pop up in the CAT tool when they appear in a text segment.

What are the Benefits of Having a Translation Glossary?

There are a few benefits associated with translation glossaries that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

1. More productivity. Translation glossaries can help streamline the translation process, as the translator won’t have to spend time researching to find the equivalent of terms that are already included in the translation glossary. This productivity boost trickles down to the editing phases as less reworking is needed because the right terms have already been chosen and there is a high level of consistency. 

2. Reduced costs. Not only will the client receive the finished product more quickly, but they’ll save money too as they won’t need to send the text back to the translator if they realize they prefer other terminology than those chosen by the translator. They can also avoid the costs associated with incorrect terminology usage in critical documents (like medical or legal) that can have negative repercussions.

3. Brand consistency. No matter what type of project you’re working on, a brand should aim for consistency across all channels and communication methods. This creates a better customer experience and cuts down on confusion. Using a translation glossary can help ensure consistency across all projects.

What Should Be in a Translation Glossary?

The answer to this question depends on each company’s unique needs, but generally translation glossaries house specific terminology and their approved translations in a target language. Names, acronyms, and trademark terms may also find a place in a translation glossary. These glossaries are especially common in technical fields with niche terminology like medical, manufacturing, or legal industries. 

How Do I Maintain a Translation Glossary?

A translation glossary should be treated as a living document that is always evolving. After the initial build, you should update it with new phrases that help reflect your company’s latest preferences. This should include any “non-translatable” words that you would prefer to keep in their original language, which may be the case with product names. Adding these terms to the glossary can be especially helpful when working with a new translator who isn’t super familiar with your company preferences.

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