Think Glossary First!

When writing for experts, jargon needs no explanations. But if you write for a mixed audience (e.g. for the general public as well as potential scholars researching your topic), you need to adjust your content and style as well as strike a balance between detailed and approachable information. Space permitting, a glossary may be a smart addition, for your audience as well as for your translator.

Ideally, all your texts should be sent to your translator together. But if you have to send them in batches, and you are compiling a glossary, it would be most helpful to send the glossary with the first documents. Much as you should always try to hire a translator who specialises in your field, your subject may be too specific or in-depth for you to find a linguist with this high level of knowledge*, so any help you can provide with regards to the terminology will be appreciated. Before a translator sets off to find a term’s foreign counterpart, they need to research and understand what it means. This is time-consuming work, so a glossary will save them some leg work. Additionally, the definitions will give valuable, specific context, which will enable them to be confident that, should they encounter several possible translations for one term, they are choosing the correct one for your topic.

Glossaries are a good cheat to add precise or in-depth information while keeping the text flowing. So make the most of them and send them early to your translator.

* More on this topic next month.

glossary in French
Glossary in Le Livre pour réussir vos créations graphiques (G. Anderson & S. Heller),
a book I translated into French.

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