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Why a translation glossary is a necessity

By Huiping ILER

A translation glossary enhances consistency in translated text and creates a better user experience for your readers.

Why develop a glossary?

A classic example of how lack of consistency creates confusion is Hewlett Packard’s User Guides. In one version of the User Guide, screenshots used the term “printer preferences” while the online help used the term “printer options.”

You may also have a list of terms that should remain in English (assuming English is the source language). For example Google does not translate its trademarked name in foreign markets except China (it is translated as 谷歌in Mandarin).

Imagine the frustration of your marketing department if a translator unknowing translated a trademark that is supposed to be left in English. Having a glossary with such requirements clearly stated saves time and headaches down the road.

Consider including the following items into your glossary:

  • Corporate brand names and slogans
  • Technical and clinical terminology
  • Acronyms
  • Text used for navigation menus and buttons (applicable to software & web sites)
  • Text imbedded in graphics
  • Do-not-translate terms

Who develops the glossary?

A good practice is to have your translator develop the glossary and then have it reviewed by your foreign country distributor or representative. The translator can then incorporate the review feedback and finalize the glossary.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

The task of creating a glossary starts before translation takes place. There is usually additional cost for creating and maintaining a glossary. The time and cost often makes a glossary seem like hindrance rather than a valuable tool.

But having a glossary greatly reduces the chances of mistakes and confusion for your translation projects in the long run. Its benefits are similar to that of preventative medicine such as diet and exercise. Don’t wait to do it when you are already sick. Do it before.

Felicia Bratu

Felicia Bratu is the operations manager of wintranslation, in charge of quality delivery and client satisfaction. As a veteran who has worked in many roles at the company since 2003, Felicia oversees almost every aspect of the company operations from recruitment to project management to localization engineering. She recently received certification as a Localization Project Manager as well as Post-Editing Certification for Machine Translation. Felicia holds a BSc. in Industrial Robotics from the University of Craiova, Romania.