Why Glossaries are Vital for Translators?


Today, one of my articles was published in a French blog about translation (Trad Online). I also would like to share it with you. I also want to thank you to Evelyn who gave me the chance to write for an international blog. Here is my article with a short review by Evelyn: 

“Müge Yildirim, freelance translator, shares her thoughts on the importance of creating glossaries in order to save time and efforts during our translation activities. Do not hesitate to share your comments on our blog.”

Almost all the texts are formed around a certain terminology. While translating technical texts, you definitely need the glossary of the related terminology. You can always say “There are hundreds of online/traditional dictionaries out there. There is no need to get my own glossary for every topic. I can always search and find the equivalent of any word”. I used to think like that, too.

In time, I have understood that glossaries make your translation experience faster and better. Picking a word from a dictionary is like picking a dress in a shopping center. Although you know what kind of dress you want, first you have to find the right store for it. After finding that store, you, again, have hundreds of dress choices. You want a black dress, well; you still have tens of different dress types. Finding the one you want takes more time than you anticipate. Similarly, without glossary, you go to an online dictionary and write the word. You have hundreds of choices. Let’s say your text is about medical, you go ahead and find this section out of hundreds of equivalents. When you go to medical terms part, you see there are at least four-five equivalent. Which one to choose? You do some Google search and in the end you use the one giving more related search results in a similar context as yours.

On the other hand, when you have a glossary that you prepared with your previous experiences in medical translation, you just find the word and you see the most general equivalent that you used in other medical translations.

Glossaries save time and give you the most possible equivalent of the word that you saw in similar translations before. Nothing can replace a glossary that was prepared with previous experiences 🙂

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by winnie Engola on December 15, 2011 at 08:18

    so would you mind teaching us how to elaborate a glossary on our own


  2. I completely agree with you.
    In some language combinations as mine, where there is lack of comprehensive Swedish-Portuguese dictionaries and other information sources, it is a good advice to create your own glossaries. Many times I have to go through a roundabout way, from Swedish through English or Spanish, to come to the translation in Portuguese. This requires time. So it is good to have a wide-ranging glossary, at least in the expertise area of translation.

    Kind regards,
    Maria Amorim


  3. The EU’s terminology database (iate.europa.eu) is a good source of terminology in the many fields in which the EU is active, in the 23 official EU languages (+ Latin). It contains a mixture of (1) carefully verified and well documented terminology in up to 24 languages, and (2) ‘legacy data’ which may be obsolete, incomplete, unreferenced, misleading or quite simply wrong. Don’t trust the reliability ratings (legacy data may have the 3-star ‘reliable’ rating, even if it predates the Internet and hasn’t been checked for decades). Instead, display the full entry and judge for yourself how well documented the entry is (in particular the definition reference and term reference). The EU’s terminologists appreciate feedback (use the feedback link displayed when you select ‘Full entry’). It may take a while until a terminologist has time to process your feedback, and once the terminologist has updated the EU’s internal database, it can take up to a month before the updated content is copied to the public database.


  4. I do agree with you, having your own glossary based on your own previous experiences, it makes things a lot easier and less time consuming. Through this you will easily get remember the word or terms that best suited for your translations.

    You don’t have to scan everything and pick one by one in order to find the right one.


  5. another reason is that having huge glossaries (or similar references) makes our job a lot quicker

    for example, do a look at my no-paper or DVD reference outfit (on my web-page) and ask me freely how I collected them (it is not a industrial secret 😉


  6. I hardly drop responses, however after looking at through a few
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