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Three Reasons to Change Your Mind about Glossaries


Do you like translation project glossaries? There are many reasons to use them, consistency and convenience being the most obvious. But this is not true for everyone. Just as many translators steer clear of translation memory tools, some folks reject the very idea of keeping project glossaries. In this post, I discuss some of their arguments.

“Making glossaries is a waste of time with the type of projects I usually translate.”

There is no doubt that a technical translation project with terms repeating many times benefits from a glossary more than a marketing brochure translation for a local medical center. Not only does the brochure have fewer terms, but it may also require translating those terms differently for stylistic reasons.

That said, I still think glossaries are important in any type of translation project. First, even though consistency may be of less importance in certain projects, it is still better to have a consistent translation than one with terms translated differently for no particular reason. Second, by checking your translation against a glossary with a QA tool, you avoid omissions. Third, a glossary makes working on a translation easier and more organized.

“Making glossaries is boring and takes too much time.”

I do not get this argument, because relying on project glossaries has become a habit with me. To me it is like saying that I do not want to exercise, because I have no time. People do not understand that 30 or 60 minutes spent exercising every day will make them more energetic and productive during the rest of the day. By the same token, some translators focus, not on the value of glossaries, but on the time and effort it takes to create one.

How long does it take to create a glossary anyway? I know two ways. You can conveniently add terms in your CAT tool as you go along. Or you can use Okapi’s Rainbow to extract terms into a separate file and translate it within your project by inserting from the TM the translations you already used. Both ways sound very easy to me. It is not like that you will be spending countless hours searching for terms with a magnifying glass.

“Making glossaries is a separate service that you should be paid for.”

Whether you want to get paid for creating a glossary upon a client’s request is up to you. If you do not make project glossaries for yourself, then you might quite understandably want to have the client compensate you for the time spent. But if you do create glossaries for your own work, as we do, I do not see why you would want to charge extra. After all, you are simply sending to a client what you already have, with no additional effort required. So why not share this glossary with your client, especially since those translations resulted from working on the client’s project to begin with?

For more information on this topic, read the article “Why Some Translators Use Glossaries And Others Don’t.”

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.