How to create a glossary

1. Glossaries in the Astronomy Translation Network

When translating texts about astronomy through the Astronomy Translation Network, you may need to search for the right words or the meaning of specific terms in astronomy. The materials you may translate as part of the project may include common astronomy words repeated multiple times. It would be good if everyone could record the technical words they encounter while translating but also the sources they use, namely multilingual and monolingual dictionaries. You will find the guidelines regarding this glossary and how to use it below.

2. What is a Glossary?

In essence, a glossary is an alphabetical list of terms in a particular domain (e.g. astronomy) containing the definitions for each term. A bilingual glossary also contains the preferred translation for each word provided and their specific definition in accordance with the theme. Glossaries are usually made and applied in translation to ensure the coherence and accuracy of the terminology. They are also used to help translate tricky or confusing terms to achieve a better translation. Rather than sort through many dubious sources to find the right term, the translator can have a single document as a reference. Therefore, the more words are referenced in the glossary the less work for the translator.

3. Which words?

In theory, a glossary can be made up of any kind of words but to avoid unnecessary clutter and to keep the glossary clear, the relevant terms should be carefully selected. Once you have finished your translation and after it has been proofread, you can choose which words to include in the glossary. The best words to add are the ones that you had the most difficulty translating. If you had trouble with a word it’s likely that someone else will too! Then you can add any words that you find technical, difficult or specifically related to astronomy. This way the words can easily be found again if needed. Before adding new words, be sure to check that your terms aren’t already listed!

4. What is a good source and how do I know it’s trustworthy?

Anything can be found on the internet, including a multitude of bad or inexact translations. Just like for any other domain, in translation we need to be very careful to choose a trustworthy source.

A trustworthy source is a credible source that you know to be reliable. An untrustworthy source is the exact opposite. An example of a trustworthy source would be the IAU or documents from official organizations, an untrustworthy source would be blog or an amateur forum.

The best way to evaluate the trustworthiness of a source is to ask yourself these simple questions:

  • Is it an official source?
  • Does the author provide his/her sources?
  • Is the source likely to have been reviewed by editors or peers?

If the answer to these questions is yes then you can use the source without fear. If you don’t know the answer to more than two of the questions then consider the questions below.

  • At a glance, are there many spelling mistakes?
  • Is the author biased?
  • Does this source rely on crowdsourcing?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, proceed with caution and search for other sources. If a variety of seemingly trustworthy sources point to the same term then it is most likely exact. Ideally you should try to contact an expert to get a definite opinion.

Tip: Official websites are widely accepted as trustworthy sources, you can recognize them thanks to the website extension (Ex: .com in Extensions ending in .gov (USA), (UK), .gouv (France) and (Spain) belong to the government. Extensions ending in .edu belong to universities.

5. How to fill in the Glossary?

First you can submit a list of terms for review by an expert. Once the scientific reviewer has verified the accuracy of the terms you will be able to fill out the table. You only need to enter the term from the original text, type out a brief explanation (try to be clear and concise) and then put in the accurate translation.

If possible, keep a list of the sources you used to translate the term and include the links. It’s important to keep a trace of the resources that you used. You can submit the sources along with the list of terms for the glossary.

6. Why should I help out?

Feeding the glossary is a group effort that will benefit everyone involved. You can save time on your translations by finding the right words in just a few clicks!

Rather than research the same word over and over again, you only have to research it once. Then it will be easily accessible for everyone. All the words in the glossary will have been approved so you won’t have to check them.

Get a sense of community and help out your fellow volunteers by participating in this group glossary!

> Sample of glossary (English – French)

This document was created through a research collaboration between the Astronomy Translation Network and ISIT, a language school located in Paris.

4CIT student group: Nina Moretto, Laura Murat, Lisa Liotta and Audrey Gavory

Supervisor: Attila Piroth

May 14, 2018