A few days ago, we highlighted the difficulties that specialised knowledge entails for translation and we suggested the collaborative effort of open glossaries as a way of overcoming these obstacles. However, beyond the obvious limitation that nobody can know everything, the presence of terminology produces another type of headache that hinders the most creative aspects of translation.


Whoever thinks that translating is sitting down and typing is overlooking many hours of blood, sweat and tears. Mainly tears. We all start learning the profession thinking that we control the text. However, as time goes by, we’re more and more aware that said text behaves like Hydra with many heads that we can’t take our eyes off, but one of them always laughs at our vigilance: understand the source text, read up on terms we’ve never seen before, communicate the same message in correct English and make sure it sounds natural at the same time, be careful with the keys, spell words correctly, avoid repetitions, consult terminology, add new entries to the glossary that maybe we’ve spent hours checking, confirm what the Cambridge Dictionary thinks about that capital letter we used due to pure intuition and in case of extreme doubt… contact a fellow linguist who can shed some light on the matter (or at least another perspective with a fresh pair of eyes!).


Among this diverse set of mini tasks that the translator’s brain manages simultaneously, terminology tends to be a pain in the neck and ends up hindering everything else. One of the most common problems is the appearance of an obscure and unexpected term in a general text. For example, in mining, what’s the name of the venting that occurs after a methane explosion in a coal mine? Here’s another one: what would be the correct term to talk about a dissociative identity disorder if we’re translating a novel set at the start of the 20th century? Due to a lack of expertise and resources in an area we have never encountered before – and which we’ll probably never come across again -, it’s highly likely that we’ll spend as much time translating that word as we would the following thousand words.

Having said that, this isn’t the only pit stop that terminology forces us to make. Any translation – whether it’s a technical manual, a medical leaflet, a TV series or the product of a film franchise – means constantly stopping to search for equivalents in a glossary with thousands of entries or racking our brains thinking about whether a word is there due to chance or if it’s a term we need to check. The task becomes complicated when we realise that not all terms are easy to identify, above all, when the translation of the project didn’t depend entirely on us. What seems to be a random expression can be a character’s catchphrase or refer to a project translated by someone else years ago. Looking up the term in an Excel sheet is the easy part, the hard part is identifying that the word in front of us is part of the project’s terminology and, as such, must receive special treatment.


The development of CAT tools has made the translator’s work easier on this front, mainly when it comes to the most technical specialisations. Some programmes have great functionalities that take care of the terminological coherence of the texts that are translated within the platform. However, creative translation hasn’t been so lucky, as the format of work for dubbing scripts, subtitles, comics and novels isn’t quite compatible with these programmes’ treatment of the text.

In its effort to widen the scope of CAT tools, Gloss It is proud to announce the launch of Term Hunter: a tool that automatically finds all the terms in a text and offers a translation according to the equivalences of the glossary that’s been selected. With this double approach, not only do we reduce the risk of overlooking a term that we haven’t been able to identify, but we also save ourselves the inconvenience of interrupting the translation process to consult our terminology database. It must be said: in passing, we also avoid possible human errors. Let’s admit it, we’ve all looked at the wrong line, we’ve read a word wrong or we’ve made a typo.

The system is simple:

  1. Choose the text file in which you want to find the terms or copy the text into the Gloss It platform.
  2. Select the glossary you want to cross-check it against.
  3. Decide if you want to automatically substitute the terms or include their translation in brackets next to the term in the source language.
  4. Process the file with all the privacy and data protections.

Once the file has been processed, the term detector will look something like this:

Example of text processed with Term Hunter

There are clear advantages regarding highly-specialised texts, both in terms of time saving and the accuracy of results. However, it’s in the creative field where the virtues of Text Hunter really shine through. While it’s true that this field tends to be less specialised, establishing linguistic equivalents in advance allows the translator to forget about the several heads of Hydra related to terminology. This will allow them to focus their effort and attention on the aspects of translation that will never be replaced by a machine: the subtlety of language, orality, ingenuity, creativity and the art of storytelling. But don’t worry, there’ll still be blood, sweat and tears for everyone.


Until the official launch of the tool next Tuesday, January 17th, the beta version of Term Hunter will be available totally free of cost for all our Gloss It users.