The Importance of Glossaries in a Quality Translation Process

By Sue Orchard

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At Comms Multilingual, we have many customers in the area of professional certifications. In this sector, it is vital to ensure that key terms are used consistently throughout all the materials and that these key terms are very clearly defined.

We find that some of our customers have already prepared glossaries of key terms in English with definitions of those terms and that is a very important first step and constitutes best practice. However, some of our customers don’t yet have this in place and we recommend that a glossary of key terms with definitions be created first in English before moving onto translation into other languages.

We help our customers to create these glossaries through various means, including using the “term extraction” tools that are built into our translation management software. These tools enable us to speed up the analysis of both large and small bodies of text to find common collocations or words that may suggest important terminology (in a similar way to how Google’s excellent “Ngram viewer” works, allowing for the fast searching of literature in order to visualize terminological trends).

Using this tool helps to save time in the creation of the glossary of key terms, as it means we can quickly find important and repeated phrases that are likely candidates to be terms. If our customers provide us with item banks from which previous exam items have been selected, we can likewise use these to put together a glossary.

In all cases, the more reference materials we have the better. Following the selection of terms, we can then put in our own definitions, followed by an SME review, or ask our customers’ SMEs to add or amend their definitions. Once the glossary of key terms has been finalized in English, then we can look at moving on to the stage of translating the glossary into other languages.

We always recommend translating the glossary of key terms into other languages first as part of the quality control process. The translations (of both the key terms and the definitions of those terms) can then be checked by native-speaker SMEs (if our customers have these in place). Alternatively, we can provide a back translation into English, which can then be checked by the SMEs within an organization. At Comms, we can provide native-speaker SMEs in many different subject areas, should our customers wish this.

Having a glossary of key terms in place will enhance the candidate experience as it provides a handy reference tool containing the most important terminology for that particular subject area, so that when future materials are being developed, the same terms can be used consistently. Another advantage is that you can provide this glossary to all the different trainers that you use for the pre-exam courses and learning. This way, you will ensure that, when your candidates are taking an exam, they know all the key terminology and there are no nasty surprises for them.

It is best practice to provide glossaries to ensure a better understanding of the terminology used in a particular subject area. This way, you can also ensure that vocabulary is used consistently throughout the learning materials and the exams and that the style is homogeneous.

The provision of glossaries of key terms is part of the whole quality control process for translating exams and certifications and related materials into other languages. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this further.

Would you like to discuss translating your assessment or certification?

If you would like further information or a quotation, please provide us with the following information:

  1. Which type of material do you need to have translated (i.e. assessment, test, exam, reports, etc.)?
  2. Which language or languages do you need and for which locales?
  3. Do you require both forward and back translation?
  4. Do you need expert review, cognitive debriefing or normative data collection services?
  5. In which format will the text to be translated come to us (Word, Excel, HTML, PowerPoint, QuarkXpress, etc.)?
  6. In which format would you like it to be returned to you?

Please contact us and send the materials by email or FTP so that we can ascertain if there is anything else that we need to know in order to give you an accurate quotation.

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