Building up a glossary

Building up a glossary requires years of research and hard work. It is a fundamental tool for any translator, most of us build our own glossaries and have different ways to achieve the same goal. It also depends on the specialisation and the complexity of that specialisation.

We can build our own glossaries

Every project requires research, it doesn’t matter if it’s simple or complex, there’s always going to be some words we need to search for and find the best solution. But once we find the right option we must keep it, so if we come across the same word we won’t need to do it all again. This is building a glossary.

We can do so with a simple Microsoft Access database. Creating a database where we can store all our glossaries is very useful. First of all, because you can set different subjects and create different glossaries, for example, IT, General Translation, Casino Games, etc. Doing it this way will help you find your words in the future.

But, apart from the words you search in the course of your career, you can also pick a topic and build up a full glossary on it. That in itself is a master project. It may take you years to achieve a comprehensive glossary, depending on the topic you chose. In all cases, you need to research and make sure the translation you chose is the right one for that word. You may find different options, depending on the context. In that case, you may either insert the word in two different glossaries or you may set all those options in one single entry.

We can get glossaries from our clients

Some clients have their own glossaries. This is very common with corporate clients and very specific fields. The company may have a set of words they use and they want them to be used consistently throughout all their documentation. Because one word may have more than one translation and every translator may translate the same sentence differently and correctly. This is one of the major complexities of translation, it is not an exact science, there are always several solutions for one problem. Having a company glossary ensures that there won’t be deviations and all translations will be done the same way.

Our CAT tools can do it for us

If you use a CAT tool, you won’t need to build a database, your tool will build it up for you. But you still need to research. This is one of the misconceptions people have about CAT tools. They don’t translate the text for you, they simply build up a glossary and suggest a translation any time they find the same words. But you still need to research and even if the tool is suggesting a certain translation, it is still your job to verify it is, because it may happen that in that context that translation is not correct. The fact that the tool builds up our glossary and suggests solutions, may be very helpful since you won’t need to look it up on your database.

Independently of the way you build up your glossaries, it is important that you do so. Without them, it would require you the double time to finish a project and that will have an impact on your productivity and of course your reputation as a translator.

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