A translation memory (TM) is a database that is used in software programs designed to aid human translators. It is a database that consists of text segments in a source language and their translations in one or more target languages and is built up of previously translated materials.
While TMs have a broad scope and include everything ever translated and they work on a segment-by-segment basis, glossaries are lists of individual, company or industry specific terms, abbreviations and short expressions.
In brief, a glossary is a database containing a bilingual list of approved or predefined translations of key terminology that is specific for a given company, industry, project, etc.
The integration and the usage of glossaries alongside a translation memory can bring numerous advantages.
For example, in the process of translation, the translation memory can find a high percentage match between the segment to be translated and a previously translated and stored one, yet some terminology can differ significantly between clients and projects. In this case, the translator can refer to the terminology glossary that has been sent by or complied in cooperation with the client and find the most appropriate term to be used.
The integration of translation memories and glossaries enforces consistency, reduces translation time and costs and highly benefits for the client’s branding and corporate identity. Moreover, glossaries become even more important for consistency the more different translation resources are used.
To be effective, both translation memories and glossaries have to be efficiently managed, kept consistent and regularly updated.
As a standard, translation service providers have their own domain and industry specific terminology glossaries that are used along with those provided by the client. At the end of each project, translation services providers can deliver a project-specific glossary as per the client’s request.