Why your company needs a term base (glossary)

Imagine you need glasses, but you set off to undertake a task without using them.  Of course, you could stumble around and fumble your way forward. And of course, you will probably be able to complete the task without the aid of those ever so important lenses – at the end of the day, pre-bifocal human beings also managed to survive –possibly!

And now imagine that you are a translator. You do have glasses (so that’s not the issue) and you also have all the other modern stuff needed to translate – laptops laden with computer-aided translation (CAT) tools, translation memories (TM), online dictionaries etc.

And then off you go with the translation process, tapping away on the keys, checking for target language word translations and synonyms in on and offline online dictionaries. Constantly confronted with trade jargon, industry-specific nouns, verbs and phrases and attempting to research these on appropriate websites that have already been translated for your client’s competitors. And every time you look, you do not find one single solution – you find many possibilities – all of which could be the right solution.

So, what do you do? You make a choice! You, the translator, choose the words for the company – that doesn’t seem quite right! And you ask yourself “Is that the right word for that industry? Have they used other words in the past; words that are known and used throughout the company? Have I chosen that word, or created another?”


Going back to the glasses, I ask whether the situation is not similar – there is an unnecessary lack of clarity, a superfluous non-use of available equipment and a general stumbling around where none is required. And the solution to the problem is truly easy-peasy – the translator needs a glossary, or what is often called a term (terminology) bank!

By providing the translator with a term bank, companies take control of the language used in their company’s international business activities – be they marketing, production, administration or whatever. The glossary empowers the translator with the terminology needed to complete the translation task, making the translator’s life easier and, at the same time, increasing the quality and continuity of translated documents.

Not only is quality and continuity increased, we translators are so enthralled by the provision of such fantastic tools, we even give massive discounts on such pre-translated words, thus making the translation costs cheaper – forever thereafter!

It makes sense to create a glossary, especially if you work in a multi-lingual or international company that need translation as part of the daily business processes. To do without is to squander money, resist quality improvement and to torture the translator (which is good fun, but costs you money!).

If you have any questions about how to set up a glossary, just get in touch.


Eric Fendley

Tortured translator

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