Terminology management is crucially important for the translation sector. While translating the texts from various specialty areas, product user manuals, official documents, visa and passport transactions, scientific articles, medical texts, and industrial texts, it is necessary to have a solid grasp of the terminology in the target language, and perform a good research.
If you mistranslate just one concept, the whole translated text might have a totally different meaning. And this might cause numerous ambiguities. The lack of a good terminology management in official document translations may render those documents invalid. The lack of a good terminology management in medical text translations, on the other hand, may cause adverse effects on people’s health. Therefore, it is crucially important to translate the meaning correctly.
Different solutions are available depending on the type, specialty area, and concept of the text, the target country, the target group, even the personal tastes. Therefore, you need to have a solid terminology management.
What is Terminology Management?
The terminology management is the sum of the activities carried out to ensure consistent use of the correct terms in end-to-end product development, communication, translation, localization support, and distribution across the organization.
First of all, the terms used in the industry in which the organization operates are collected. In other words, a term database is created for that industry. Secondly, these terms are documented with the appropriate information like definitions, subject fields, products, associations, instructions of use, and conference texts.
Thirdly, it is necessary to review the terms to decide on the preferences and help the translators to use the language consistently.
Fourthly, it is necessary to distribute this information to authors and translators in the form of reference materials and language sources. Besides, the information such as the content management and writing tools, translation tools, product classifications used in the terminology management must be arranged and distributed.
What are the Advantages of Terminology Management?
Managing the terminology affects the profitability, customer relations, and the general image of an organization positively. If the terminology is not managed correctly, your personnel, business partners, and suppliers will decide on which terms to use for your products or services themselves.
This may cause your organization to make a wrong image. Using synonyms might also cause numerous different problems. The concepts, terms, inconsistencies, unexplained acronyms, terms with negative or inappropriate cultural associations, marketing terms leading to negative images, problematic terms, rarely used words, and the wrong terms especially may change the meaning of a text completely.
Such problems damage your company’s professional image. They confuse your customers and cause their dissatisfaction. Moreover, some problems may even cause various accidents and wrong use of the products in a manner likely to hurt the users.
Additionally, the terminology problems in a company increase the costs in various ways. The use of different terms for the basic features or functions of a product at the research and development stage may cause misunderstanding among the employees. Errors may be made, and consequently, several production stages may be repeated. This may cause considerable financial losses.
After a product or service has been developed, the information and marketing contents are prepared, and then translated. The marketing department and the product development department are generally not well-connected. Each has its own team of authors. Inconsistent and contradicting terminology between the marketing and development contents of a product or service is a widespread problem.
A central database is a tool that helps to ensure consistent and appropriate use of the language across the organization. If there is no term database, it is up to editors to detect the language problems by relying on the sectoral terms.
However, numerous inconsistencies and problems go unnoticed, and later on, these wrong terms continue to be used in other texts as well. Besides, the editing stage comes after almost the entire content for a product has already been created.
At this stage, the problems mount up many times, and the cost of fixing them becomes too high. Creating a terminology consistent across the organization proactively boosts not only the high-quality writing and translation activities but also the effectiveness and efficiency of the business as a whole.
How to manage Terminology?
It is difficult to create a term database from scratch; it requires a considerable amount of time and effort. If you are a big corporation trying to decide if you need to strengthen your terminology management, it is most likely that you already have problems with terminology.
If you are a small or medium-sized translation office, the best time to create a term database is before starting a translation project. If your customer does not have certain terminology data, you will need to make some time to search and verify the necessary terms.
The terminology management is not a one-time activity. It includes the update of the existing data, deleting of the old data, and addition of the new data to arise during the translation. Maintenance is a regular requirement, not for a certain translation project only.
A well-built term database will help you to create new databases in any number you want. Each of the individual departments, products, customers, or subjects may have its own database. Individual glossaries for the whole automobile industry, whole law terminology, or whole medical industry do not make much sense.
You can create a comprehensive term database that has the appropriate classifications and explanations, from which you can single out individual glossaries for each project when necessary. Then, each glossary can be updated to be transferred back to the database.
Creation of Term Database
The term database can be created on an e-table by using the practical and frequently used terms. A terminology explanation is the foundation stone of any term and includes the information on a term such as the term itself, its language, definition, field, and industry.
Depending on its use, an entry will use more or less data. For example, in case of a translation project, a terminology entry includes classically the following items. Naturally, the number and order of the fields vary by the needs and object of the glossary.
Remember that the acronyms, synonyms, and product names all must have separate entries in a term database. As an organization, you should consider how you would like to configure a term database so as to make it meaningful to you.
This field includes the real term. It may be a single word or a phrase. Each term must be entered in the database in small or capital letters as per real use. Each term must be written in its singular form. If a term is in the form infinitive, it must be entered as a verb in the form of infinitive.
Elements of Sentence
This field indicates the grammatical category of the term, such as noun, adjective, adverb, or verb.
This field includes the sector in which the term is used, i.e. its subject. It might generally be beneficial to assign multiple subject codes. In this way, the “environmental legislation” term, for example, can be assigned to both “environment” and “law” fields.
This is the fundamental ingredient of the explanation of each term. It gives an expressed formulation of the concept associated to the term and allows distinguishing it from the other concepts in a conceptual system.
This field gives information on the process steps of a term. A term can be tagged as “verified”, “to be verified”, or “unused”. This field is important especially if the database has been prepared by multiple persons or verified at different levels.
This field is composed of an example sentence in which the term is used.
This field includes the bibliographic reference, document, or other sources from which the definition has been extracted or derived.
It indicates the date on which the term explanation was completed or updated.