translation quality man with hard hatFor global marketers, building a solid translation program is much like constructing your dream home. You select which services fit your needs, determine what aspects matter most for success, and have a project team to work with to get it just the way you like it.

Because translation quality is such a critical component to all your marketing materials, it’s like your home’s foundation—and we don’t have to tell you how important it is that it’s rock solid.

Tools like translation glossaries, which are a collection of your organization’s most important words and phrases and their approved translations, help lay the groundwork for consistent source content and high quality translations.

Just as a strong foundation makes the home building process easier, providing a glossary with approved terms and definitions speeds up the translation process and eliminates the potential for costly rework—setting the stage for a beautiful home.

Is your translation quality shaky? You may need to create a translation glossary to get your foundation where it needs to be.

Survey and stake: Questions to consider when creating a glossary

Before any glossary construction can begin, you should survey your needs and find solid ground to build on. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are your main issues with translation quality? Is it word preferences chosen by linguists that don’t pass muster with your internal reviewers? Are words being translated when you would like them to stay in the source language?
  • Is there a necessity for greater context? Could term definition benefit linguists and help them choose a better word? For example, the word for ring in Spanish is “anillo” when referring to jewelry, but “timbre” when referring to a sound. In this case, a definition would help them select the word that makes the most sense.
  • How many terms should be included in your glossary? What terms matter most for your organization?
  • Who needs access to your glossary?  Who’s developing marketing materials within your organization? This is important to consider, because if authors have access to your glossary, there should be set rules on how to write source content, leading to better overall translation quality across your organization.

It is important to get answers to these questions before breaking ground on your translation program. For insight, talk to your internal reviewers as well as to your content authors. Also analyze past translation projects to pinpoint translation quality issues that can and should be avoided in future work. All of this information will help you to determine which terms should be included in your glossary.

Excavation: Getting the foundation just right

Just as the size and location of your foundation need to be just right, so does the size of your glossary. A shallow hole can cause cracks in your foundation, whereas a hole that’s too deep could mean a flooded basement.

Glossaries are meant to help your linguists create accurate and consistent translations and save them time. You don’t want too few terms, leaving linguists puzzled and your translation quality not improved, but you don’t want to flood them with information, either. A good rule of thumb is to include 1,000 to 2,000 terms that are most relevant to your organization.

We recommend that you organize your glossary by your company’s products and services to make it easier to pinpoint relevant glossary terms. For example, if a linguist is translating packaging material for a specific product, they can reference this designated section rather than sifting through hundreds of terms that are irrelevant to this particular project.

Footings, walls, draining systems, oh my! What to include in your glossary

From a one-story bungalow to a towering mansion, translation programs can range in size and complexity; however, solid foundations, like glossaries, have similar components. Include all your terms in their source language and include the translation next to each one. The translation should be exactly how you want it to appear in all marketing projects. Laying out these words and phrases ahead of time ensures your preferences are abided by, saving your internal reviewers a lot of time when the content gets to them.

You should also specify terms that need to remain in the source language. For example, if any trademarked products or your company name need to always be the same, specify this in your multilingual glossary.

It is also a good idea to add term definitions for greater context and accuracy. For example, there are many words to represent a vehicle. You could write car, truck, bus, taxi—and the list goes on. In this case, a term definition will help linguists translate your content better and will also help source authors know which word is the preferred use. Identifying these terms and definitions before any project begins improves translation quality, ensuring that the words are translated correctly for style.

Ready to put on your hard hat?

While creating glossaries takes a little work upfront, a strong foundation can help you weather any upcoming storms, keeping your global marketing efforts on firm footing. If you need assistance in getting started, hire Sajan as your contractor. Our expert team can help you get your glossary started, no matter what phase you’re at in your translation program.

In the meantime, check out this article on how to write a quality plan, a blueprint for improving your organization’s translation quality. You should also check out this piece on translation style guides, another important tool ensuring that your brand voice and style preferences carry through to translations.

Have you created a translation glossary to improve your marketing initiatives? Let us know how the process went in the comments below!