To understand the content of some texts, knowing the language is not enough; often, there is a need to make some form of dictionary, which is called a glossary. Translated text should be of the highest quality – that is why it is so important to make glossaries containing phrases specific to different fields.

What is a glossary?

Back in the day, a glossary had a completely different purpose. It was a collection of annotations – words or pieces of text – added to the margins of the page by the person copying the manuscript or the reader. In printed books, they appear at the bottom of the page or as one piece at the end of the book.

Nowadays, a glossary serves as a terminology dictionary. It specifies a collection of terms used in
a certain field, double-meaning words, or even some phrases in a source language and a translated language. In electronic form, it helps a translator find needed information. Glossaries are being made mainly for a specific field: chemistry, biology, etc. They can also be made for many businesses and companies that use specialised jargon that is generally unknown to people who do not work in the same field.

Glossary – why and when do we need it?

The glossary’s purpose is to make a text seem like one piece, so it is easily understood by the target audience. It is necessary when translating pieces into a different language, especially when a text concerns a specialised field, for example, a service manual for a machine where some parts might be called differently. With a glossary, your translation will be easily understood, and the vocabulary will become pertinent to its users, which will help you avoid any unclarity within the text.

A translation agency can begin working on a needed translation much sooner and more effectively with the assistance of a previously created glossary. A glossary can be made together with a client. This will speed up the working process for both sides: thanks to a glossary, a translator will quickly find accurate words, and with that, a client will receive a translation with the correct terminology used without the need to check it additionally.

Glossary for a translator

In translation offices, a glossary is used as an addition to translating software, and it helps while working on bigger projects. When it comes to smaller projects, it takes the form of a terms list, which can be found in an Excel spreadsheet. Previously made glossaries can be useful while making another translation and, with that, will help save time.

Software CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) is the most popular tool supporting translators’ work. It helps with making a translation database or our own language database from a certain field.

Documents such as instructions, recipes, or contracts need to be translated without any mistakes. As a result, a professional translation necessitates a translator’s knowledge of the target language and the words associated with it. The effect of preparing and using glossaries is how precise the translation is at the end, its high quality, coherence, and consistency with the current rules of different fields.

(translation J. K.)

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