Translation Glossary Management Overview
Description of what translation glossaries are and their value

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Each company has its own terminology. Take for example the word "utility." For a software company, "utility" may refer to programs that enhance a machine's operating environment such as antivirus, backup, security, and file management applications. To a financial investment firm, facilities management company, or management consulting company, "utility" may refer to a company providing an infrastructural service such as electricity, fuel, water, or public transportation. The word may be used differently for classifying types of products such as a utility vehicle, utility knife, or utility livestock. In baseball, a utility infielder is a player who can substitute for multiple positions; and in theater, a utility cast member can play multiple minor cast roles.

This is further compounded by the heavy use of acronyms within companies and their wide difference across industries. Take the acronym MRD, for example. In software, it often is used for "Market Requirements Document," in hospitals a "Medical Record Document," in investment firms the "Minimum Required Distribution," and in India it can refer to the "Ministry of Rural Development."

Appropriate language and wording within the corporate environment often extends beyond the preferences of a single individual. For products, consistent messaging is important across marketing and technical documents. Specific types of wording may require review from company legal resources. Human resource materials can contain specific terminology and phrasing intended to be standardized across the company. All of these examples illustrate the importance of consistency and discipline in the use of terms within organizations. This can be a challenge and require processes within the company to ensure appropriate use of terms. The challenge increases significantly when rolling out the concepts, corporate directives, human resource policies, product campaigns, press releases, technical documents and other documented corporate material into other target languages.

Added to the inherent challenge of achieving consistency of terms and phrases across groups, departments, and member companies and locations within the source language, when translating material into new target languages, interpretations of content by multiple translators hired at different times and by different groups in the company can vary even more widely. This intensifies the critical importance of systematic and disciplined use of well organized translation glossaries. Doing so, achieves both higher quality resulting from better consistency and accuracy of the translations as well as lower costs due to avoidance of rework that could result from inconsistent terminology within and across documents. The translation glossaries should be managed as "living" databases that are updated, reviewed, and maintained over time. Additionally, the translation glossaries are intellectual property of the customer. They are assets that the customer can provide as important resources to current and future translation and other language providers that the company hires.

Structure of a translation glossary

A translation glossary is a repository of approved terms and phrases to be consistently used within a group, division, or organization. The glossary serves as a reference for professionals to use when authoring, editing, or reviewing corporate content. Translation glossaries are also sometimes referred as translation lexicons, translation collections, and translation term bases. The use and maintenance of translation glossaries can be performed within sophisticated computer assisted translation tools (CAT) or even for smaller projects with common office tools such as a spreadsheet.

The core component of translation glossaries are one-to-many relationships between source language (e.g., English) content and approved translations for each target language. These relationships are often further detailed with additional metadata including the company division, authors, translators, explanatory descriptions of meaning and context, and workflow data such as review and approval information.

Translation glossaries, which ensure proper approved word choice, are important core components of professional translation and are generally used in conjunction with other tools including Translation Memory for enabling re-use of previously translated content and translation style guides which establish rules for the presentation of company visual assets such as logos, trademarks, headers, and other corporate conventions that need to be adhered to within language regions and globally across the enterprise. Together, these tools further catalyze our ability to deliver highest quality translations, with robust turnaround, and at competitive rates.

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