Every business has its own language. For example, consider the term “drive”. As a verb, it can describe several different actions, such as operating a motor vehicle. In many companies, however, it is used as a noun to describe a computer device that stores data. Choosing the right word is a deliberate decision. Making sure everyone in your company uses the same term for the same concept requires discipline.
All of this becomes even more complex as you attempt to provide this same information in multiple languages. If a word has multiple meanings, translating terminology from one language to another can be extremely complex, time consuming, and expensive. That’s why approximately 15 percent of all translation project costs arise from rework, and the primary cause of rework is inconsistent terminology.
A Glossary is Your Reference for Proper Terminology
The glossary is a tool or document that helps you mitigate this consistency problem. The glossary contains your key terminology in your source language (typically English) and approved translations for that terminology in all your target languages. The glossary also contains other metadata such as the definition, context part of speech, and approval/review date. It is one of the key tools, along with a style guide and Translation Memory, to assure that all translated materials meet your quality expectations.
The glossary helps your translators make sure that each time a defined key term appears, in any language, it is used consistently and correctly. For example, the terms “laptop” and “notebook computer” are synonymous, but you should choose to use just one of these terms for all materials supporting your new product. If you enforce that standard on your technical authors, you should enforce it among the translators and their materials as well.
Moreover, the glossary becomes even more important for consistency if you use more than one translation resource. This is especially true in the case of tight deadlines when many translators may be working on various elements of a project simultaneously. By helping to eliminate uncertainty in the translation process, the glossary will enforce consistency, shorten the time it takes to translate a document, and reduce the overall cost of translation over time.