Liability in Translation: "Glossary, glossary, glossary"

Hmm, this being 2016 and an election campaign in the Americas  in full swing, like many others we also want to emphasize the importance of good glossaries to get statements right and avoid blunders. Built rightly, glossaries  help the "poor" translator and others to adhere to preferred terminology, and they prevent use of synonymous terms and expressions that  clients and others want to avoid.

The classic Battery Example

Did you know that in many languages there are different words for a battery that can be charged and a battery that cannot – and must not – be charged? It is actually a safety issue.

In Dutch, for example, a non-chargeable battery is a "batterij", while one that can be charged is an "accu". In a car, you do not have a "batterij", and in a remote controller you most likely do not have an "accu", unless you spend time charging those batteries yourself. This concept applies to a lot of other languages.

In technical English, these batteries do have different names, but most people tend to disregard this and simply use the term battery. [The professional English term for a non-chargeable battery is a 'primary battery', while the version that can be charged is a 'secondary battery'.]

"Liability, liability, liability"

In the end, if during translation an issue like this is disregarded, the resulting outcome can become extremely costly. Liability claims is one thing, but some manufacturers have gone to the extreme to redesign technical solutions because of stated claims, others have conceded that translations were wrong and have issued new documents to replace old ones with all the inconveniences involved.

These issues include pedals in passenger cars, batteries in trucks, lighting in normal homes, and there are a lot more. We all now know why microwave ovens and driers suddenly got to include warnings not to dry our pets in the products.

Professional help

In the end, relying on professional solutions with human translators and not machines, you can save more than a buck – probably the whole future of your enterprise. And we have fantastic technologies to keep those charges for translation and glossary maintenance in check.
We will keep you posted of potential issues we come across and we like to go the extra mile to  ensure your documents are translated  correctly. 

5 Facts to Glossary Use in Translation

Company terminology pushed through an entire enterprise, including all business communication, should be organized, saved, and continuously updated – and all crucial terms in your working language as well as all other languages your work in should end up in one or more Company-level glossaries (click here to learn more about why you need a glossary in translation). 

If you have never peaked behind the curtain of professional, human translation – and we are explicitly excluding machine translation solutions because of liability issues – in technical translation, trying to understand “exact matches”, “terminology consistency”, “glossary maintenance” and such can be a taxing undertaking to anyone, while trying to understand “fuzzies” and “content matches” not to mention “200% matches” is probably gobbledygook to most of us.

In this post we will try to clarify the issues and underscore what’s important in the translation process.  

What does a glossary in translation cost?

Done professionally, a glossary should not cost anything extra if two conditions are met:

  1. a) It is done on the fly within the translation process, and 
  2. b) you have already indicated which terms you want to add to the glossary.  

How many terms and expressions should be featured in a glossary?

The size of glossaries vary, but typically a general glossary for a machine manufacturer would have around 500-1,000 entries, while glossaries for standard consumer products should have from 100 to 500 entries.

How to update a glossary in translation?

We recommend running a check on your glossary to identify potential problems and areas to update. How often this should occur depends on product releases, but generally once a year, or when terminology changes are implemented.

A Glossary Review should be performed by professional linguists who correct and update incorrect entries and clearly indicate what has been changed and why.

How to maintain a glossary in translation?

With a good glossary, translators and reviewers are warned by their CAT tools whenever a term is not used or a different one is used; glossary terms should only be ignored by stating a reason and if possible also giving a condition why a given term should not be used. These reasons and conditions should be collected in the form of a report and presented to the end client in the final delivery. This helps ensure consistent quality, and it will integrate with any ISO9001 undertaking to make sure all issues are documented – and it will guarantee your translated documents are up-to-date with company terminology.

Where to get a professional glossary in translation?

Every competent language service provider should be able to create and process a glossary for you. If you do not have a language service provider available with this service, you can ask to GET A GLOSSARY CREATED HERE. We have the means and smart tools to create glossaries even from aids as simple as PDF files.

Apply your company language: Build a glossary

In the translation industry, a glossary is basically a list of specific terminology that helps to ensure consistency in translation. Every language, every industry and even your very own company use specific expressions that need to be addressed and used properly in order to give your translated documents the right meaning. Additionally, glossary creation together with translation memory creation help you to significantly lower your future translation cost.

Why is a glossary such a big deal?

It's because working with glossaries in your organization creates unified expressions and ensures everyone understand each other. The same applies to translation: to assure we use your preferred terminology in documents we translate for you, it is important to have access to your glossaries. Especially  in technical documents, ambiguous terms and use of inaccurate or different expressions for the same term creates confusion and can in the worst case lead to safety issues.

The reason of having a well-maintained glossary is to prevent such risks. And while some companies have developed internal glossaries, we know based on experience that many still lack them. 

How to create a glossary in translation?

As proposals we can either help you to:

  • Expand an existing glossary with more terms and more languages, or 
  • Build new glossaries from scratch based on your existing multilingual documents. 

If source expressions do not exist, we usually begin by extracting typical terms and expressions from your existing source files. After this, the corresponding terms from matching target documents are added to create bilingual glossaries. This can be done for one language or many. It is possible to build glossaries from basically any kind of document type, including the PDF file format.

At idioma, we use an in-developed application, Term Grabber, to make this work straight-forward and highly efficient. And later in real translation projects, we then apply glossary checking to make sure your glossary terms have been correctly used.

To create a glossary or to update and maintain your existing one, feel free to contact our project managers.

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