The Basics of Glossaries for Translation Projects


A translation glossary is a collection of key terminology that is important to a specific client’s documentation. In creating a brand, a company uses words to present itself. These specific words are carefully chosen and important for creating the company’s image. Marketing departments spend many man-hours getting these types of words perfect. Therefore they must be used consistently across the company’s documentation. Also, each company and industry have specific words they use that are understood by others in that sphere, that have a more specific meaning to them than they would to an outsider. Just as it is important to use these words correctly and consistently in the original language, it is equally important to find appropriate equivalents in each language the documentation is being translated into, and to use them consistently too.

The purpose of a glossary is not so much to help a translator understand a term, as to collect these types of terms and their foreign-language equivalents in one place so that everyone working on a translation project can make sure the correct terms are used. It is also wise to include terms that are not commonly known outside the industry, as many words can have multiple meanings and you want the translators to be sure of the right one.

A glossary is specific to a particular client. Terms in a client’s glossary are only used for that particular client. ITC uses Trados MultiTerm to create the glossaries. It allows them to integrate seamlessly with the Trados Studio 2011 translation memory software used to translate a project. This means that during translation, when the software sees a word in the text that appears in the glossary, it will suggest the glossary’s translation of that word to the translator. The glossary is also searchable, so a translator can look up a word at any time during a translation. The proofreader can also use this software to ensure that the glossary terms have been correctly used.

If a client already has a list of terms with the translations they prefer for those terms, that list can be imported into the MultiTerm glossary for use during translation and proofreading. If desired, the client can also request that the glossary is delivered along with the translation. After the translation is completed, the glossary is then updated with terms from the translation project for use on subsequent projects for that client.