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March 1, 2023

There are times you may want to translate a word or phrase a specific way, such as a company slogan or specific terminology. Or, you may not want to translate a word at all, such as your company name.

In these cases, you can add the terms to your WPML glossary and define exactly how you want them to appear in your site’s translations.

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How the Glossary Works

WPML’s glossary allows you to identify key terminologies in your source language and add translations for them in your secondary language. Here are some examples of words and phrases you may want to include in the glossary:

  • Brand-specific terminology. This includes the translations for the names of your products and services, company slogans, or people’s names. 
  • Industry-specific terminology. If your site is filled with medical or technical jargon, you may want to add the exact translations for certain terms or procedures.
  • Non-translatable terminology. There may be words or phrases that you want to leave untouched. In this case, you can include these terms in the glossary to ensure they remain untranslated.

It is important to note that a glossary is not the same thing as translation memory. The glossary is an index that keeps terms and phrases with special instructions for translation in one place.

Translation memory, on the other hand, can recognize and apply previously saved translations.

Please note that the entries you add to the Glossary are still included in the cost of automatically translating the content that contains them.

There are a few reasons why the glossary is useful:

  • Makes translation easier and faster because translators can see and implement the suggested translation for words or phrases
  • Provides translation consistency for specific terminology
  • If you enable use of the glossary for automatic translation, it can prevent automatic translation from translating phrases incorrectly

In the example below, you can see that when you add a new glossary entry, it becomes available in the Advanced Translation Editor. You can view all the Glossary words and add new ones by clicking the Edit glossary button. 

Clicking Edit glossary to view all the Glossary words

If a word or phrase has been added to the glossary and is present in the post or page you are translating, you will see it highlighted in blue with a thin box around it in the Advanced Translation Editor. Hovering your mouse over the term will show you the suggested translation for it.

A highlighted glossary term in the Advanced Translation Editor

Similarly, when translating a sentence with defined terms, the Glossary terms icon in the Advanced Translation Editor will be highlighted in black. Clicking on it will reveal the glossary terms in the sentence. 

Clicking on the glossary term icon when translating a page in the Advanced Translation Editor

Adding and Managing Glossary Terms in the Advanced Translation Editor

If you use the glossary with automatic translation, always make sure to review the content. Glossary entries are case sensitive, and the term must match exactly what is defined in the glossary to apply the translation. The glossary does not make grammatical changes to the terms, such as making them plural, possessive, a different tense, etc.

WPML’s glossary is made up of four parts:

  • Sentence – this field is for the word or phrase in the source language that you are adding to the glossary
  • Translation – this field is for the translation of the word or phrase you added to the glossary
  • Description –here, you can add notes or an explanation about the term or translation
  • Automatic translation option – you can choose for the translation of the term to be applied with automatic translation, or opt for it to only be available with human translation. If you choose to enable the glossary for automatic translation, the translations of any words or phrases defined in the glossary will be applied automatically.
The components of WPML’s glossary

You or your site’s translators can add glossary terms as you translate content in the Advanced Translation Editor. To do this:

  1. In the top right corner of the Advanced Translation Editor, click the Edit Glossary icon and then click the Add New button.
  2. Add the term in the default language, the translation in the secondary language, and a brief description. 
  3. To use glossary terms with automatic translation, click the check mark in the Use with automatic translation section. For the use of glossary terms with human translation only, click on the cross. 
Enabling the option to use glossary terms with automatic translation
  1. Click the Save button.

Any glossary entries you add will be available and can be applied on all future pages and posts.

Viewing existing glossary terms in the Advanced Translation Editor

Adding and Managing Glossary Terms on Sites with Multiple Secondary Languages

If your site uses multiple languages, you can easily add glossary entries and translations into each language by going to WPMLTranslation Management. To do so:

  1. Click the Tools tab, then click Glossary.
Accessing the Glossary from Translation Management
  1. Click the Add New Entry button and specify the language, term, and description, and click Add to Glossary.
Adding a new entry to the glossary
  1. To add your preferred translation for each of your site’s languages, click the plus icons under each language. Or, click the Copy to All icon if you don’t want to translate the term in any language. If you do not define a preferred translation for a language, the glossary will not apply for that particular language.
Adding a preferred translation for a glossary term

It is not currently possible to delete glossary translations for specific languages, but you can delete the entire term and all its translations by clicking the Trash icon.