Technical Translation: How much time should I spend building a client's glossary?
Autor de la hebra: Laurie Bennett

Laurie Bennett  Identity Verified
Canadá
Local time: 16:42
Miembro 2017
francés al inglés
+ ...
Apr 9, 2019

Hello fellow translators!


**QUESTION:
how do you calculate the time required for glossary-building in a technical project?**


**CONTEXT:
I am trying to estimate an accurate timeline for a technical project. I may be translating roughly 150 000 words, over 150 documents. They are data sheets for products used in the construction industry. This will require building a glossary (in Excel), to save time, ensure quality and consistency, etc.

... See more
Hello fellow translators!


**QUESTION:
how do you calculate the time required for glossary-building in a technical project?**


**CONTEXT:
I am trying to estimate an accurate timeline for a technical project. I may be translating roughly 150 000 words, over 150 documents. They are data sheets for products used in the construction industry. This will require building a glossary (in Excel), to save time, ensure quality and consistency, etc.


The client is asking for a timeline and I am not sure how much time I should allow for building such an extensive glossary. So far, I have only seen a sample of the sheets and am unsure how many repeated vs. new terms there will be throughout.


I would like to say that it will take X business days to complete the glossary, at which point we will provide any follow-up questions for the client (for terms that require more context). But I feel that my estimate of "X" may be wildly inaccurate!


Thanks ahead of time for your help,

Laurie
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DZiW
Ucrania
inglés al ruso
+ ...
charge extra Apr 9, 2019

Why your client may need a glossary?

Meanwhile, I would rather (1) save as TXT, (2) use a free tiny PlusTools to extract the terms, (3) clean up false positives (repetitive collocations) , and (4) start the translation, adding new terms.


 

Katherine Rucker
Estados Unidos
Local time: 19:42
Miembro 2019
español al inglés
+ ...
Estimate number of terms first Apr 9, 2019

Hi Laurie,

I've usually used a CAT tool (MemoQ or Trados) to pick out term candidates. That will give you a decent starting point for which terms appear frequently. It would take a while to comb through and accept/reject terms, but in my experience it's quicker than reading through all the source material.

I'd see how many terms you get (it will be WAY less than the initial dump the tool gives you, maybe 5%?) then estimate anywhere from 50-100 terms/hour for extraction
... See more
Hi Laurie,

I've usually used a CAT tool (MemoQ or Trados) to pick out term candidates. That will give you a decent starting point for which terms appear frequently. It would take a while to comb through and accept/reject terms, but in my experience it's quicker than reading through all the source material.

I'd see how many terms you get (it will be WAY less than the initial dump the tool gives you, maybe 5%?) then estimate anywhere from 50-100 terms/hour for extraction and translation, depending on how much research you have to do. You could export that list to Excel if that's what the client needs returned.

I'd also throw on some extra hours because you'll surely add more terms as you work, which will take additional time.

Hope that helps.
Katherine
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Tom in London
Reino Unido
Local time: 00:42
Miembro 2008
italiano al inglés
what? Apr 9, 2019

I don't think any translator should build a glossary that the agency will then pass on to other translators, and save immense amounts of money, thanks to you.

I have been asked to do this myself, and have politely declined. I have my own glossaries and nobody else gets them.

If you want to put a price on the value of what you're being asked to do, I think you're talking about $ thousands.


Eliza Hall
Chris Foster
 

Laurie Bennett  Identity Verified
Canadá
Local time: 16:42
Miembro 2017
francés al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
Thanks and clarification Apr 9, 2019

Thank you both for your advice! Also, Tom, I should clarify that the glossary is for my personal use. When translating technical files for clients, I usually extract all technical terms, build a list of source & target equivalents, then translate the file using the glossary. I can then quickly follow up with the client, concerning the terms that require additional context (usually less than 3% of terms).

I am reaching out because the scope of project is much bigger that what I norm
... See more
Thank you both for your advice! Also, Tom, I should clarify that the glossary is for my personal use. When translating technical files for clients, I usually extract all technical terms, build a list of source & target equivalents, then translate the file using the glossary. I can then quickly follow up with the client, concerning the terms that require additional context (usually less than 3% of terms).

I am reaching out because the scope of project is much bigger that what I normally accept and I am concerned that an incorrect estimate of the time required to build this glossary could lead to an impossible deadline for me or an unsatisfactory (slow) timeline for the client. So I wanted to see how other translators estimate timelines for larger technical projects.

I do not yet have access to all the files and the client is asking for a potentiel timeline, based on three sample files, which include 3000 words out of a potential 150 000 total word count for the entire project.

Apologies if the question was unclear!

[Edited at 2019-04-09 21:21 GMT]
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Alistair Gainey  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 00:42
Miembro 2009
ruso al inglés
CAT tool? Apr 9, 2019

Hi Laurie,
I notice you say you'd be building the glossary in Excel. Have you considered using a CAT tool, or would the format (for example) be inappropriate?


Dan Lucas
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 00:42
Miembro 2014
japonés al inglés
Repeat projects? Apr 9, 2019

Laurie B wrote:
the glossary is for my personal use.

A good deal of my work consists of translations of documents created by some of the largest listed companies in Japan, and this usually recurs on a quarterly or half-yearly basis, or even more frequently if it involves press releases.

If work from a particular client becomes, or looks like becoming a regular thing, I create a termbase in Studio 2017 (essentially a glossary that can be easily accessed from within the application) specifically for that company. Together with concordance search, this allows me to build a glossary that reflects that company’s preferences and to maintain a good level of consistency.

That results in a better relationship with the agency and fewer queries from the end client, which means higher satisfaction and more work.

However... If I did not think I would be getting more business for the end client in question, I would seldom bother building a termbase. Only you can decide whether it is worth creating such a specific glossary, and how many terms need to be added to it. This is something that comes with experience.

For a project as large as the one you describe, particularly in the area of technical translation, I would definitely invest in a CAT tool, as already suggested by Alistair. If this project is a substantial as you say, this one job alone should pay for the software. I certainly would not attempt it in Excel.

Regards,
Dan


Gareth Callagy
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Francia
Local time: 01:42
Miembro 2018
francés al inglés
what I do Apr 10, 2019

I systematically put together a glossary for any technical field if there's a chance of repeat work. It doesn't take long, just a few seconds for each term. I put the term and the name of the file it's in as soon as I realise I'm going to have to do some research for it, then once I've decided what to put I add it in (erm, actually I usually forget, which is why I trained myself to put the name of the file, so that I can at least find it quickly when I need it again). I don't charge the client f... See more
I systematically put together a glossary for any technical field if there's a chance of repeat work. It doesn't take long, just a few seconds for each term. I put the term and the name of the file it's in as soon as I realise I'm going to have to do some research for it, then once I've decided what to put I add it in (erm, actually I usually forget, which is why I trained myself to put the name of the file, so that I can at least find it quickly when I need it again). I don't charge the client for it although I do tell them I have it, and I have often impressed clients with "Yes, that term cropped up in the video I translated for you last year, and I translated it as this."

Once when I was working at the agency, a client expressed an interest in having my glossary, because there were several members of staff writing directly in English who could benefit from it. The boss billed them a pretty stiff amount. I think he calculated the number of words and doubled it then rounded it up. They paid for this, and then paid for regular updates at the same stiff rate. The glossary was then sent to all the client's staff, who were to use it systematically when writing in English. We still had to translate all the material for their website, press releases and the annual report, so there was no reduction in the amount of work we were given.
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 00:42
Miembro 2007
inglés
+ ...
Make yourself a little less dispensable through your glossary Apr 10, 2019

Kay Denney wrote:
I systematically put together a glossary for any technical field if there's a chance of repeat work. It doesn't take long, just a few seconds for each term.

I don't charge the client for it although I do tell them I have it

I don't do technical translation but I certainly need to record terms for clothing catalogues, etc. In your position, Laurie, I would draw up the glossary/termbase (in a CAT tool, most definitely) and keep it for my own use. I would however let the client know that I had it, and I'd take every opportunity to remind them of that fact (in the way Kay suggests). Impress on them, in a subtle way , that if they go to another translator they're likely to get inconsistency creeping in. You can always let your trusted holiday relief have a copy. It isn't a big point in creating client loyalty, but every bit helps. And as your client clearly doesn't enforce CAT tools, you could do the same sort of thing with your translation memory, if you build one. I afford one direct client discounts on the basis of my own TM of his work. They aren't the cut-throat ones an agency client might insist on, but they do help encourage him to come back to me -- at least, he's still with me!

Once when I was working at the agency, a client expressed an interest in having my glossary, because there were several members of staff writing directly in English who could benefit from it. The boss billed them a pretty stiff amount.

And take note of this, Laurie. Your translated terms are part of your intellectual property, so don't give them up cheaply. If the client won't pay enough, keep them to yourself.


Josephine Cassar
Dan Lucas
 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canadá
Local time: 17:42
Miembro 2008
francés al inglés
+ ...
CAT tool? Apr 10, 2019

Laurie B wrote:

This will require building a glossary (in Excel), to save time, ensure quality and consistency, etc.


Isn't that just what a CAT tool is for? I usually build a glossary as a termbase (in MemoQ) as I go along. When I meet a term that I think is a candidate I just enter it in the termbase (one click). The term will then be automatically suggested whenever it is encountered in the source. The termbase could be exported into an Excel file if desired, but if it's only for your own use there is no need.

When running post-translation QA checks, any time I didn't use the term in the termbase it will be flagged for attention, thus ensuring consistency.


Katherine Rucker
Gareth Callagy
MollyRose
 

Laurie Bennett  Identity Verified
Canadá
Local time: 16:42
Miembro 2017
francés al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
Thanks for sharing your processes and a note about CAT tools Apr 10, 2019

Hi all,

Thanks again for sharing your processes! It's always interesting to see how other translators approach a projet.

First, @Alistair I have been working with MateCat, an open-source CAT tool, for a few years now and it does have a handy built-in glossary feature.

@Katherine & Dan & Kay & Sheila many thanks for sharing your methods. I'm now looking into comparing the features of various other CAT tools and terminology extraction tools. Perhaps I need t
... See more
Hi all,

Thanks again for sharing your processes! It's always interesting to see how other translators approach a projet.

First, @Alistair I have been working with MateCat, an open-source CAT tool, for a few years now and it does have a handy built-in glossary feature.

@Katherine & Dan & Kay & Sheila many thanks for sharing your methods. I'm now looking into comparing the features of various other CAT tools and terminology extraction tools. Perhaps I need to upgrade to a paid CAT tool with more extensive features.

@John Fossey, Yes I know that CAT tools have built-in glossary features. However, I like to process all technical terms first because it allows me to quickly identify any problematic terms that will require additional information from the client (important because client can be slow to respond). I could simply dive into the translation and wait until technical terms come up, which I have done in the past, but if a problematic term is in the 140th of 150 files, then I will be asking the client about it at a later date, leaving them less time to respond. This can then result in delays. I also find it speeds up the translation: after building glossary, I upload it to matecat, then can translate quickly as I don't have to juggle term definitions and sentence structure all at once. THE PROLEM: not sure if this remains an efficient solution for larger projects.

There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding my method, so perhaps it is not as efficient as I had thought... With larger projects on the horizon, it will be important to hone this process. I will continue to look into other options and appreciate all your recommendations.
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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 00:42
Miembro 2014
japonés al inglés
Voltaire Apr 10, 2019

Laurie B wrote:
I could simply dive into the translation and wait until technical terms come up, which I have done in the past, but if a problematic term is in the 140th of 150 files, then I will be asking the client about it at a later date, leaving them less time to respond. This can then result in delays.

And trying to extract a full terminology before you even start translating won't result in delays?

Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien
Dit que le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.


Regards,
Dan


MollyRose
 

Laurie Bennett  Identity Verified
Canadá
Local time: 16:42
Miembro 2017
francés al inglés
+ ...
PERSONA QUE INICIÓ LA HEBRA
Wise words Apr 11, 2019

Good point, Dan. Thanks for the words of wisdom.

 


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Technical Translation: How much time should I spend building a client's glossary?

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