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October 3, 2019 |

What Is Terminology Management and Why Does It Matter?

Correct terminology is a key element that makes it possible for people to understand each other in various life situations. In translation, terminology management helps language experts to use specialized terms in the right context for each niche they operate in.

What Is Terminology Management?

Terminology management refers to all the procedures necessary for storing, editing, and presenting terminology. In short, it includes all the measures taken by translators to build and maintain an operable database with the unique words that pertain to an industry, company, public organization, or even an author. 

Terminology management can be broken down into a series of activities that permit the accurate treatment of terminology inside an organization. Here are the main operations included:

  • Collecting the words and phrases of interest. Each organization operates with a series of concepts and specific terms that define them. You need to identify these words and gather them into a unique database or glossary. 
  • Documenting each term in your collection. For every word and expression, translators should have access to a definition that clearly specifies that part of speech. Besides the official description, you should also add usage guidelines, the subject field, and any product associations that are allowed or recommended.   
  • Reviewing the database with the client. Before proceeding with the translation project, make sure you review all the terms with a representative of the organization. This step allows you to identify and eliminate any errors. It also clarifies preferences for one word as opposed to its synonyms.  
  • Storing the database in a secure format. Data privacy has become essential for sustainable relationships with clients. Whether your glossary includes confidential data or not, no client wants to hear that its documentation walks free in the internet jungle.  
  • Sharing your glossary with translators. You should make sure all translators and collaborators involved in the translation project have easy access to the reference materials. 
  • Updating the database. As companies evolve, their products and business operations can undergo significant transformations. The glossary of terms should reflect this change.  

What Makes Terminology Management Important

Correct terminology management can positively influence profitability, your relationship with your clients, and your reputation in the industry. 

A unique glossary of terms for every client, market, or industry is a cost-effective way of increasing productivity in translation. It helps translators save time and energy, as they have all the information they need in one place. They won’t be forced to go through dictionaries or waste precious hours wondering which synonym would go better within a specific context.  

When language service providers have a practical approach to terminology management, translators can also ensure consistency in their translation projects. It’s a significant factor to consider because consistent translations are more accurate and easier to read. 

On the other hand, when certain terms and industry-specific constructions get translated chaotically, the content in the target language generates confusion and misunderstandings. This scenario requires do-overs and additional proofreading, which results in slower processes, higher costs, and a poor customer experience overall. 

Clients who reject your translations due to a lack of consistency will soon get tired of working with you. You’ll start losing business partners, and soon your reputation will be damaged.  

Last but not least, terminology management helps you to preserve your knowledge for long-term projects. You can reuse the glossary of terms every time you start a new translation for the same client, or in the same niche, market, or industry (depending on the type of arrangements you have in place). It will save you even more time and help you reduce translation costs significantly. 

How to Choose the Right Terminology Management System

For successful terminology management, language service providers rely on a terminology management system (TMS). Translators use software to create, store, share, and update terminology inside the glossary. 

Software is fast, accurate, and very flexible, which makes it perfect for the job. However, not all products come with the same features. As a general guideline, you have two main options: a TMS integrated into a translation tool or software dedicated exclusively to terminology management. You’ll have to do some research to find the most suitable software for your needs. 

Either way, the TMS should meet some essential requirements that enable users to deliver high-quality services. Let’s take a look at the key principles that should guide your decision. 

  1. The terminology management system should be easy to integrate with your existing infrastructure and workflows. If you have to turn your business processes upside down to make room for the TMS, it’s a sign you haven’t made the right choice. 
  2. Try to work with a unique database that permits the creation of categories and subcategories. This way, you have all the terminology in one place where all translators and collaborators can get what they need when they need it. 
  3. Choose the TMS considering the number of end-users and their needs. You need a tool that permits multiple users, who access the glossary from different devices and timezones. 
  4. An effective TMS comes with a reporting feature that allows you to keep track of all the changes operated inside the glossary. Without it, your database will become less accurate and useful over time. 
  5. The software should have a highly-efficient search function that allows end-users to find terms quickly and effortlessly inside the glossary. 

Final Thoughts

Translation and localization services have become the fuel that enables public and private organizations to operate on global levels. Without language barriers, people and organizations can communicate more effectively and ensure stability and economic growth across various industries. 

As language services providers expand their services, they operate with a multitude of specific terms for each niche. Without terminology management, it becomes hard to deliver quality services. 

Over time, the lack of an effective terminology management system could deteriorate customer relations and impact the overall reputation of the language service provider. So, it’s worth putting the time in today to ensure continued work for the future.