What to include in a glossary for business translation?

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Although providing a glossary is usually not required when you send your documents for translation, it’s highly recommended that you provide the glossary as it may effectively keep the consistency and improve the accuracy of all your translated documents. Even if all your translation jobs are done by the same translator, the translator may make different decisions regarding the word choice at different times, and the translated documents may be inconsistent. Moreover, an effective glossary can also largely shorten the turnaround time, as the translator no longer needs to conduct research to understand and then translate those highly technical terms in the document. Following are things you may include in the glossary.

Preferred translation of the core terms of your business:

It’s important for a business to determine and maintain the preferred translation of the core terms related to the business. You may decide the ideal word choice for the terms crucial for your business by conducting market research and consulting your language service provider. You may also interview people from the local community speaking the target language and ask for their opinion to see whether the translation is accurate and desirable.

Definition of the highly technical terms in the document:

It’s fine that you don’t have the preferred translation of the core terms (which may be time-consuming to prepare) in the document, but you may still help the translator a lot by providing the clear and concise definition for those highly technical terms. Even experienced translators in the field may misunderstand a term and get confused by the explanation they may find from various sources. Clear and concise definition of those terms would be of great help for them to fully understand the terms and complete the translation.

What the translator shouldn’t translate in the document:

You may not need certain parts of the document to be translated, such as the product names, the business slogans, and the taglines. You may add them to the glossary which may serve as a reminder for the translator. Moreover, there may be text on your logo, and whether or not they should be translated is a decision you need to make before you send your documents for translation. Of course, even after you receive the translation from the translator, you may ask the translator to make revision and remove the translation that you don’t need. However, this would increase the turnaround time of the project.

Although the glossary should provide adequate guidance for the translator to complete the project on a timely basis, it also needs to be clear and concise. Putting irrelevant contents into the glossary would reduce the effectiveness of the glossary and be a waste of time for you and the translator.

Although it may cost you some time to create a glossary, it can be used for all your future translation projects. That would pay off as it would minimize the inconsistency across different translated documents, shorten the turnaround time of all your translation projects, and save your time for revision and proofreading.

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