Terminology Management

Manage your terminology and strengthen your company’s communication

Is it a coffee mug or a porcelain mug? Is it a collision guard or a corner bumper? These are just a couple of examples to show just how many different phrases and terms can be used to talk about the same thing. If you choose the term coffee mug, you are focusing on the mug’s function, whereas if you choose porcelain mug, you are focusing on the material the mug is made from. Are you in complete agreement about which terms and phrases you use in your company? Or do you in fact end up using different terms for the same thing in different documents and texts?

Author: Laura Jürgensen, Sales and Marketing Coordinator

What is terminology management?

Terminology management is used to ensure that the same phrases and terms are used in translations every time. By defining and managing the terminology, you ensure consistency in current and future texts and translations. Terminology management is extremely useful for writers and their translators, because it means they have a list of approved terms that they can use from the very first sentence.

Why is terminology management important?

If your company cannot maintain an overview of your terminology and ensure it is properly organised, your texts and translations will soon be full of inconsistencies. Poor or non-existent terminology management leads to ambiguous or contradictory texts and uncertainty among your customers because so many different terms and phrases are used to describe the same thing. Terminology management helps you and your company to maintain uniform terminology, so no uncertainty will arise when it comes to which specific terms you want to use.

Terminology management is also extremely important with regard to your translations. Translators often work with very specialised languages in specific industries. This means that pre-defined terminology is a great help to the translators, because it ensures that they use the specific terms that are required.

Benefits of terminology management

By using terminology management you and your company gain many benefits.
Here are some of the most important benefits:

You maintain consistency in company communication, which means you create greater customer satisfaction.
You save money by improving consistency in the source text and in the translation.
You simplify quality assurance of the source text and the translated text.
Terminology helps save time when you need answers.
Strengthened company identity using uniform terminology.
Easier to maintain high quality when tasks are transferred to other colleagues because the terminology is already defined.
Easier to exchange information and knowledge inside the organisation and across borders because the terminology is uniform.
Ambiguity and misunderstandings are avoided in-house and at the customer’s location through terminology management.
Easier for employees to gain specific knowledge and shared understanding inside the organisation created through the use of clear terminology.
Standardisation of language and definitions created and supported by terminology management.

How do you organise and carry out a terminology project?

In general, a terminology project can be split into three steps. Our experience is that the more you and your company are involved in these three steps, the better the outcome of the terminology project. This is because it is you and your colleagues who possess the expert knowledge, you who can verify the translator’s proposals and you who can help to define the terms.

Step 1: What types of texts and departments should be included in the process?

It will be most beneficial if all types of text and all departments are included. However, this can become quite a comprehensive project. Therefore, it may be easier to start with individual departments and a limited number of types of text, e.g. technical manuals. Though this entails the disadvantage that other departments may disagree with the choice of terminology. If all of the departments are involved from the beginning, then everyone has a say in what they believe the terminology should be. Different types of text can actually have their own respective defined terminology. For example, it may be preferable that the terminology used in marketing texts is different from the terminology used in technical manuals. If this is the case, two different termbases can be created.

Step 2: Selection of specialist terms and phrases

After the terms and phrases that you want to use have been selected, they must then be defined. You can also choose which synonyms are forbidden to use. In general, we devise a ‘raw’ term list, which we extract from your existing texts and documents. You then decide whether you want to use these terms going forward or if you want to use different terms. We adjust the term list in accordance with your changes.

Step 3: Translation and approval of terms

When all of the specialised terms and phrases are defined, they are then translated to the desired target language. Next, the translated terms are reviewed and you assess whether you agree with the translations. We update the terminology in a database and in translated files. Both the defined terms in the source language and their translations are saved in the termbase, and they will be used by the translators when they translate texts for you.

Once the terminology project is complete, it is important that you ensure that all of the parties use the defined terminology, both in the source language and in the target languages. For translators this is relatively easy. By using a CAT tool, translators are shown when there is a term in the source language, which has a predefined corresponding term in the target language. This ensures that the translators always use the correct terms.

What is a termbase?

A termbase is a database where you can systematically process terms and phrases in the source language and the target language. By linking a termbase to your translations, you ensure greater consistency and more precise translations, which are adapted to suit the way your company communicates.

Are you considering whether your company needs to carry out a
terminology project?

Simply enter your details in the contact form and we will contact you for an informal chat and tell you about how your company can benefit from terminology management and how we can help you with the process.