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How to create a glossary for a client ?
Thread poster: British Diana

British Diana
Germany
Local time: 07:28
German to English
+ ...
May 28, 2011

This may sound rather naive , but how do I go about creating a glossary for a client?

I have a client for whom I have done some translations and who are now saying they need a style guide and glossary for English. Their website and most of their printed material is often both in German and English and the English versions were written by various authors - and it shows!

Now they wish for more consistency in their publications, so that things like mixing up BE and AE or using different capitalization conventions will not occur. In addition they want to make sure that their specific terminology is always translated in the same way from German into English.
They could then use the guide and glossary when writing the texts or when proofreading texts they get from outside the company.

My queries:
#I was thinking of recommending a BE style guide that is freely available on the Internet, who can suggest one?
#If my client asks me for my help in putting together a glossary, how does one do this?

Do I just start with the word pairs from my own translations and make a list, and then go on to looking at other materials I have from them and pick likely pairs out?

Is there any way I can get this list to become alphabetical automatically (I don't have any technical devices like wordfast or trados) - something simple using Windows XP Word or Excel?

[Edited at 2011-05-29 05:36 GMT]


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:28
Chinese to English
Just a couple of ideas May 29, 2011

Speaking from a position of ignorance here - I've never done this myself, but I had two thoughts:

1) The Guardian style guide is freely available, and I find it quite intuitive. I've used it for some non-translation writing jobs.

2) You could get a decent corpus of your client's documents and use a tool to list the most frequently used words. Obviously you'd get a lot of articles and other uninformative stuff in the top 100 (but even with those really common words, you could start to specify some translations to improve consistency). But the list could be a useful reference to help you decide which words to start with as you build the glossary.


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British Diana
Germany
Local time: 07:28
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Corpus? Tool? May 29, 2011

Thanks for answering so quickly, Phil. I will look out for the Guardian style guide immediately.
Please explain what you mean by "corpus" and how to get hold of it.

How exactly does this work?

Which "tool" do you mean?

I am really not tech-savvy, I'm afraid. Somebody in the company will be, I hope, however, I need to tell them what to do.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:28
Chinese to English
Sorry, didn't mean to be techie May 29, 2011

By corpus, I just meant a collection of your client's documents.

I said tool because I don't know which one would be best, but if you put "word frequency" into Google, there's a lot of relevant hits.

What I'm imagining is that you get a big collection of your client's documents, and a program that can tally word frequency. You tell it to search through all the documents and output a list of words in order of their frequency in the collection (corpus). With German you'll presumably have to be a bit clever about the way you tally to take endings and compound words into account, but it must be doable.

You can then work down that list, giving translations for each term you think should be a glossary entry. It's really just a way of ensuring that you don't miss any terms. The glossary building is still up to you!


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:28
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Suggestions May 29, 2011

British Diana wrote:
#If my client asks me for my help in putting together a glossary, how does one do this?

If only all clients were as sensible as yours. But first think carefully about what you are letting yourself in for. Researching terminology is very different from translating, and building an accurate glossary takes a great deal of time and research. Who will own it? Will you charge for the work, or supply it free of charge? The former makes financial sense, the latter makes marketing sense because your customer will get better translations, and might even give you plenty of work. That opens the possibility of developing a long-term successful relationship with your client. Ultimately you want to be a language consultant, not just a translator. You are taking the first steps in that promising direction.
Do I just start with the word pairs from my own translations and make a list, and then go on to looking at other materials I have from them and pick likely pairs out?

Yes.
Is there any way I can get this list to become alphabetical automatically?

Yes, Excel is widely used for this purpose. Column A for the source language, B for the target, optionally with further columns for comments, examples, grammatical variations etc.
It is easy to sort columns into alphabetical order in Excel.
But ultimately you should use a more powerful package, such as Trados MultiTerm, which will make your Excel data much easier to access while translating.


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British Diana
Germany
Local time: 07:28
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
three stages in creating the glossary? May 29, 2011

Thank you a lot, Phil.

So would it be possible for

1) someone at my client's company to get hold of the corpus and the tool, go through all their recently filed German documents (or perhaps only those on their website?) and find out, say, the 500 most used terms.

2) the same could be done with their recently-filed documents in English.

If then 3) the two lists were compared (discarding those common words you mentioned like pronouns or prepositions), the resulting GE-EN pairs could become the glossary of the company's terminology?

I am thinking that if the company did the first two steps, I could do the third one, the bit they need a NS/translator for (and whom they may be paying per hour) and which would require less technical know-how?

Please tell me if I have understood this correctly.

Thanks again!


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British Diana
Germany
Local time: 07:28
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great suggestions, Peter! May 29, 2011

Thank you, Peter,

Your entry is very helpful. In fact the company in question already works in the field of teaching foreign languages, which makes the people there who are mostly multilingual themselves sensitive to discrepancies and inconsistencies.

That's why they would like a DE-EN glossary, and I'm trying to find out what this entails so that I can decide how much of it I would be able to take on myself and how much I can expect them to do first (see Phil's suggestions).

Once the various possibilities for a translation of a certain term have been collected, I can imagine that the company will have special meetings to decide on which one is to become part of their "in-house usage". So the glossary will certainly belong to them.

I'm glad you said that about Excel, because I had hoped that I would be able to sort words using it.

Trados is way above my league at present, I'm afraid !


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:28
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@British May 29, 2011

British Diana wrote:
#I was thinking of recommending a BE style guide that is freely available on the Internet, who can suggest one?


Some companies issue style guides to their translators to ensure consistency, but if the style guide is too long, the translators won't read it (and those who did read it may not remember every little point in it). Also, some style guides preach things that every good translator should already know, so reading them is really a waste of time and a frustrating exercise in trying to figure out how the client's preferred style *differs* from common style.

For this reason, my ideal idea of a style guide is something that is no longer than 2 pages long, which highlights not things that are obvious but things that deviate from ordinary style. The style guide can also contain information about items that different previous translators had done differently, so that they and new translators know what they should do.

I also find that some style guides are really written for source language authors and have nothing to do with translators. Don't do that.

#If my client asks me for my help in putting together a glossary, how does one do this? ... Do I just start with the word pairs from my own translations and make a list, and then go on to looking at other materials I have from them and pick likely pairs out?


Yes, that is the best way of doing it. Create two versions of a glossary -- one that can be used in or easily imported into most CAT tools as a prescriptive glossary (e.g. tab delimited plain text), and one that is more human-read friendly (e.g. Excel with columns). This way, translators with CAT tools will follow it, and those who don't know how their CAT tools' glossary function works can also use it.


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British Diana
Germany
Local time: 07:28
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
really helpful, too! May 29, 2011

Thank you, Samuel

I think part of the problem for the company is that some of the texters/writers are their own native speaking employees who are not used to checking anything in a style guide at all (especially if the company hasn't given them one or told them which one to use) .

So I suppose as they ARE source language authors something like the Guardian style guide would be quite good?

Then one could add a page or two on what the company would like to be done differently to this, as you say.

The "human-read friendly" glossary using Excel you refer to sounds like the one I could handle (see my answer to Peter)! So I'll go down that road, perhaps.


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:28
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
More suggestions (and cold water) May 29, 2011

I agree with Phil Hand about starting off with a corpus of documents. But it's time for some cold water – I have used one such tool for finding words and phrases, but it was disappointing – it listed all the frequently occurring words, but these tend to be the easy ones. It is the more difficult words that need to be in your glossary, and only you can determine that. So however you do it, building a glossary is slow and time-consuming.

An alternative approach which I have been able to use only once is to go and see the customer. Some years ago I was offered a large highly technical translation (DE-EN), and I persuaded the customer to pay for me to go to their HQ in Munich and spend three days with them creating a glossary. This worked very well, and saved me a lot of time and effort (in return, I offered a lower rate). An example – their user guides often had the word "Achtung", so my first question was how they wanted that to be translated into English – Warning, Note, NB, Caution, Attention etc. So what appeared to be an absurdly simple question could be settled there and then rather than at a later stage.

To sum up – building a glossary jointly on site saves you time and effort, gives the customer higher quality translations, and fosters a sound long-term relationship.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:28
Chinese to English
Maybe I was completely wrong... May 29, 2011

Having read Samuel's and Peter's comments, I'm now having serious second thoughts about my suggestions...

We're all professional writers, so style guides aren't scary to us, but your (teacher?) writers might not be very familiar with the idea. Even I baulk when a client hands me a big thick volume. A two sheet summary with the basics on is likely to be helpful to a lot more people than a comprehensive guide, though they're obviously not mutually exclusive. Tips here: http://www.finaldraftcommunications.com/how-write-style-guide/

And Peter's point about uncommon words being the important ones may well be right. I was actually imagining that you would get more freedom to write the glossary yourself (or extract it from their existing documents like you suggested), i.e. that they were just after consistency. If you think that the company will want to sit and decide on translations for individual terms, then maybe you'd be better off doing something like getting an industry-relevant monolingual glossary (e.g. http://www.crossroad.to/glossary/education.html ) making your Excel table, then asking the client to fill it in.

The CAT-readable format will be quite easily generated from your Excel file, so you can leave that to someone with the need and the knowhow.

[Edited at 2011-05-29 17:42 GMT]


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British Diana
Germany
Local time: 07:28
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Peter and Phil May 29, 2011

Phil,
I think the company will be pleased to let me write the glossary, I meant that they will want to have the last word - i,e. if I think that it ought to be "task-orientated" and they say "task-based", then "task-based" it will be.

But perhaps I can use Peter's suggestion as well - having collated a certain number of word pairs using the corpus+tool idea I could go and spend a day in the company's HQ and discuss the cases where there are several possibilities with their own experts.

Just to make it clear - I haven't actually got a translation to do right now, the glossary is meant for the company so that the native speakers who work there can text things correctly in English.

BTW I've found a style sheet from the European Commission, does anyone know if it is any good?

ec.europa.eu/translation/english/guidelines/.../styleguide_english_dgt_en.pdf


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:28
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
EU style Guide May 29, 2011

British Diana wrote:
BTW I've found a style sheet from the European Commission, does anyone know if it is any good?

Excellent. Strongly recommended -- but bear in mind that it had to make some compromises, in order to be pan-European. THus the EU do not use commas to separate thousands (eg 1,234,567). Instead they use what is called a thin space (non-breaking space) for numbers, looking like 1 234 567.


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British Diana
Germany
Local time: 07:28
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Style guides for European languages May 30, 2011

Thank you very much for looking into this for me and for your endorsement, Peter!

I will recommend the EU style guides to my client as a start-off. They work with several European languages apart from EN and DE which are also covered by versions of this guide, so using the European Commission ones would make for consistency, I think.

My company can still overrule details such as the separating thousands issue in a separate style sheet if they want, can't they?


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:28
French to English
Interesting thread May 30, 2011

I have had to do this on the odd occasion in the past. I have also had in-house glossaries "imposed" upon me, some of which ended up giving such odd results which the client would not deviate from!

You are dealing with language professionals. This has to be a partnership affair and will have to be established in close collaboration with your client.

Might I suggest that you select one particular area of their business and do a trial run building a brief glossary. This way you will spend time seeing what methodology could work and how you might work together on the project.

This takes time and time is money. You must receive remuneration for it. The work done and paid for will belong to the client company. However, you will have learnt a lot and the terminology you will build may come in use for other jobs for you, by which I do not mean that you can "resell" the glossary to another client. I am sure you know what I mean!

I think your first step is to meet the client and discuss what they are expecting, how they expect to be able to exploit the tool. Who will be using it? What format is best for them?

It really is quite a responsibility as glossaries estblishing lists of word-for-word translations can be problematic. If not used correctly in-house, the wrong word in the wrong context for example, chances are the client will consider it to be your fault. Just how basic or how expert do they expect this to be?


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