Why Create a Glossary?

March 1, 2021 |

Translators and interpreters rely on your words to convey your thoughts and messages accurately. The adoption of a foreign word transfers it from one cultural context to a new one, and often as a consequence creates shifts in meaning. This is often unnoticed and results in misinterpretations.

Glossary and Term BaseIf a term has any level of ambiguity, it should be included in your corporate glossary or termbase. Each language has words that can have multiple meanings. These words can make it extremely complex, time-consuming, and costly to translate from one language to the next. In the same manner, there can be several different words that could be used to describe the same thing; however, oftentimes one word is more appropriate than others. Choosing the right word becomes even more significant as a specific term for your business may mean something completely different for another organization. As such, every organization should develop their own glossary for their specific functions, products, services and general business processes. When a glossary is developed, it can help ensure the right term is used for the same concept across your organization and outwards. It becomes your organization’s lingo.

For the purpose of translation, glossaries contain key terminology in the source language in addition to approved translations for each term in all target languages. A glossary can contain other metadata such as definitions, context, part of speech, and include an approval/review date or comments. Each word can be followed by an indication of the language for which the definition is provided. This makes it possible to check the variations of meaning for related words. Bibliographical references can be added and indicated by an acronym. Each definition can also be followed by an indication of the author and the date of the entry.

Terminology management is a key element of any content creation, translation, and localization workflow, so establishing a solid glossary of your organization’s key terms should be well planned and widely shared.

Glossary vs Termbase

A glossary is a record of terms and additional information about them. It can be formatted in a variety of ways, from a simple list to multi-column Excel sheets. It includes your terms and the guidelines on how to use them—their context, spelling and proper capitalization, whether any terms are forbidden, rules on synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, etc. It can be as extensive or as simple as you want it to be.

A termbase is a database for use with authoring or translation tools. Termbase fields are usually customizable and contain a good amount of data about each term.

Why term selection matters: precision and clarity

Having a good glossary or termbase is crucial because it creates terminology consistency throughout your projects. When terms are clear and concise, there are many benefits:

  • Client-facing content and products are widely adopted across the board;
  • User experience and product usability are enhanced;
  • Brand is strengthened globally with clearer messaging;
  • Research time is reduced due to consistent definitions and metadata;
  • Reduced Legal and security issues from inconsistent or confusing language;
  • Content is created more quickly and gets to market faster;
  • Search engine rankings are improved;
  • Agreed, consistent and clear language helps avoid confusion and misunderstandings.

So, how do you choose the terms to enter in your glossary or termbase? In our next newsletter, we will discuss the creation of a glossary or termbase.

To learn more about Translation and Interpretation, download our ebooks here.

Category: Translation Tools