A glossary is a list of entries, usually organized in alphabetical order, that aims to clarify the meaning of key terms related to a specific subject or used in a certain topic area.
How is a glossary organized and what is it used for?
A glossary is organized in a specific order, either alphabetically or by categories, to facilitate the search for each term. Essentially, a dictionary is a huge glossary. The terms specified in the glossary are explained with a definition and further description of meaning or specific use.
Traditionally, the glossary would appear at the end of a book, paper, or other texts to help the audience to get a strong understanding of the content in question. Today, glossaries are also used in learning platforms, industry-specific texts, and other circumstances. A glossary is especially critical for pioneering companies aiming for global reach.
Why is the use of a glossary important for business?
Any established company or start-up intending to set up for global success will, sooner or later, need to define the use of terms connected to their product or services. This is because any and all content created around the product will be published across the internet and in any connected communication.
A company-related glossary is necessary for accurate localization of the content produced by the business. Here the company lays the foundation for future success by ensuring clarity across languages and cultures. The creation of a glossary helps businesses control the use of terminology by staff, clients, and the public specific to their products or services. This, in turn, helps to focus on their core knowledge and underline the unique expertise of the business. This is particularly important for companies who are pioneers in their field, specialty, industry, or market.
These pioneers may be required to coin new terms for the use, application, or communication related to their products and services. With the current speed of technological, scientific, and social developments, the creation of new terms can be observed much more frequently on a global scale.
This is exactly where the creation of a company, product, or service-specific glossary can help product managers, their staff, market, and clients to communicate more efficiently without getting confused by language that is not relevant to what they do.
Language is the great connector. It provides shared experience and, when properly translated and localized, gives you the means to tell the world about your products and services. However, this does require an understanding of each culture you reach out to and the ability to adapt to that culture. A glossary provides the localization professional with not only the terminology but the usage guidelines they need to localize the message.
The glossary that you implement early on will initially be used by your staff, PR, or marketing department. In customer service, it ensures that the appropriate terms will be applied correctly at any time. This, in turn, will foster your standing within your industry, and facilitate global outreach.
When it comes to the localization of all your product-related content for a specific language, you will be able to rely on standard meanings determined early on. These standard meanings will help future translation teams and industry reviewers better relate to the product or service and provide the right context for error-free and culturally accurate translations. (Note: This kind of glossary specific to the localization process is usually called “term base”.)
What are the benefits of a glossary?
As you can see, a glossary can serve you internally and externally. It shapes the way language is used in connection to your products or services on a domestic and global level. If you want to branch out successfully into international sales, a glossary is essential to clear communication in any language.
A glossary or term base that is well defined in meaning and usage supports clarity in any communication your company provides and receives. It articulates the best language practices for any localization efforts you will put into place before launching your product or service in a foreign market.
A company-specific glossary, in conclusion, is one of the key elements to consider when planning for global outreach.