5 Ways to Let Your Translation Glossary Work for You

Dimitris Glezos
October 28, 2015
5 min read

Everyone has a set of favorite tools that make their job easier, whether it’s something as simple as a smartphone calendar that integrates with email or a password manager that keeps all login information in one secure and convenient place. Each tool has its own purpose. Maybe it’s to automate a manual process, to enhance workflow, or to save money. No matter the reason, at the end of the day, you adopt tools that’ll make your life easier and set you up for success. Why should it be any different when it comes to your localization platform?

Within Transifex, there are a number of tools that make your life easier. Translation glossaries, in particular, ensure consistency and clarity in all your translated materials, creating a consistent user experience. And with studies showing that around 15% of all translation project costs arise from rework caused by inconsistent terminology, a translation glossary is an invaluable tool in supporting your localization efforts.

1. Structure your translation glossary with purpose

A translation glossary is only helpful if it’s organized and easy to navigate. If your glossary includes thousands of terms, your translators are forced to constantly reference the glossary as they’re translating. It’s a nightmare! And it takes a lot of time.

To create a comprehensive glossary, review existing client-facing materials for frequently used terms. As you build your glossary, double check to make sure each term is only included once. For instance, we wouldn’t want our Transifex glossary to include the term and definition for “localization platform,” “localization,” and “platform.”

Structure your glossary to contain key terminology in your source language, as well as approved translations (for that terminology) in your target language. This helps translators by shortening the time needed to translate strings and frees up your time (or your reviewer’s time) because you don’t have to double check and see if commonly used terms are translated correctly.

2. Include terms specific to YOUR company or product

One of the key purposes of a glossary is to enforce consistency in messaging and branding, providing current and future translators with a repository of properly translated company and industry-specific terms. For example, including your company’s name in your glossary ensures translators will never attempt to translate (and change) your brand name. This isn’t an issue for companies with distinct names like ours, but for companies that share their name with commonly used words like Apple, making a distinction between the brand name and the fruit ensures consistency across digital content in various languages.

It’s also important to make a clear distinction between important industry terms and terms that are simply helpful for the translator. Let’s use the fast food industry as an example. A majority of fast food chains serve burgers and fries, which may be considered industry terms, but not all restaurants will use a term like “Happy Meal” which is specific to McDonald’s. Including burgers and fries in your translation glossary might create unnecessary clutter, whereas including Happy Meal will ensure the product name is used correctly.

3. Make your glossary translator-centric

It can be easy for companies to veer off track when creating their glossaries. Keep in mind that your glossary is a tool for your translators, so put yourself in their shoes when creating it. One of the best ways to do this is to give your translators context. Along with the term and definition, give an example of how the term is often used so they can have a better understanding of the word and when to include it in translations.

Additional information to include in your translation glossary includes the definition of the word, part of speech, and depending on what you’re translating, any language variance that may occur, such as differences between American English and British English. Taking the time to create a comprehensive tool for your translators may seem like an exhausting process, but will ultimately reduce the overall cost of translations over time as your translators become familiar with your business’ related terminology.

4. Conduct an in-country review

Your translation glossary isn’t helpful if your source language terminology isn’t correctly translated into your target language. After you’ve compiled the first draft of your translation glossary, send it to translators who specialize in your target language. Spend some time reviewing any feedback or notes with your translators to see if nuances in language affect or change the meanings of certain translated words or phrases.

Along these lines, continually ask your translators for feedback. The best translation glossaries evolve as the business grows and new products and services – and associated marketing messages – change. You may need to add, change, or delete terms over time, but by involving your translators in this process, you increase your chances of retaining a valuable, high-quality, and helpful translation glossary.

5. Create a Translation Memory database

Glossaries can also serve as the foundation for translation memory databases, another tool that decreases time spent in translations, increases productivity, and reduces cost. Translation Memory Databases house your company’s most commonly translated terms, so when translators come across a similar word or phrase as they’re translating, TM will make suggestions based on past, accurate translations. Learn more about Transifex’s Translation Memory and why more and more companies are incorporating this tool into their translation process.

Translation glossaries exist because even the best translators may have difficulty translating a key marketing concept or catchphrase. Give your translators a great resource, make their job easier, and enjoy the benefits over time. For more information about translation tools or the localization process in general, feel free to contact us – we look forward to hearing from you.

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Dimitris Glezos
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