The importance of a glossary

By Acclaro
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The Importance of a Glossary

If you are new to localization, you may think that a glossary is only for term papers and reference books. You have yet to discover how this single item can revolutionize your translation efforts. Let’s take a look at why a translation glossary is so important.

Set up your translation initiatives for success

A translation glossary includes preferred translations for key terms and — just as critically — notes any terms that shouldn’t be translated.

Creating a glossary of approved terms in each target language at the beginning of your translation initiatives is essential. While especially critical for technical translations and marketing content, a glossary lays the foundation for consistent, high-quality translations of any kind.

Ultimately, a glossary not only saves you time and money, it also helps ensure your brand’s success across languages and cultures.

Keep your messaging consistent across languages

While synonyms are great for creative writing, using the same word consistently is key to keeping your original message intact through translation. Such consistency is only possible if there is a single translator working on your translation initiatives across all languages (highly unlikely) or if you have invested in a glossary with predetermined foreign language equivalents for your key terms in your source language.

Before establishing a glossary for the translation process, however, it is often important to begin with an English glossary and company style guide for your source language. If the original English version of your content communications is inconsistent, the foreign language versions are certain to be as well!

Ensure brand recognition in each new market

Let’s take the example of a social media game. Say you have designed a Medieval fantasy game set in the 21st century that has met glowing success in the U.S. You naturally decide to take this game to other language markets, such as Europe and Latin America, to increase revenues. You begin the process of translation into Spanish, French, German and Italian, assuming that adapting the game to these markets is as easy as translating the script in a linear fashion from beginning to end … until you initiate the testing phase and realize there are major inconsistencies throughout the game.

You discover that “warlock” was translated three different ways in German and that the variations are used randomly throughout the game in dialogues. “Sorcerer” is sometimes referred to as “witch” in French. Even the name of the game itself, “Potion,” is translated inconsistently — though the title is always correctly referred to as “Potion” in Spanish, the word itself is used interchangeably with other terms within the game, such as “magic brew” and “concoction.”

To your chagrin, you notice that these same vocabulary inconsistencies are rampant in your public relations campaign, which has already been launched. One press release uses the tagline “Casting a spell on the 21st century” for the Italian translation, while a later one reads, “Bewitching the 21st century.” Subtle difference? Perhaps, but brand recognition contributes to your game’s success, and inconsistent versions of a tagline demonstrate an inexpert and possibly, ineffective, global marketing campaign.

Partner with experts to achieve your brand’s growth goals

Preparing a glossary may seem daunting at first glance, but detailed work in the beginning pays off with a smoother translation process and consistent results. So make sure your translation partner works with you on what to include in a glossary before translation begins — you will reap the benefits both abroad and at home!

Contact us today to learn how we can help you set up your glossary and ensure that your brand connects authentically with new language markets across the globe.

Photo Credit: Patrik Göthe

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