Your terminology is KEY!

Accurate terminology
Using accurate terminology is a critical yet challenging aspect fo the translation process.

The wrong terminology can alter the original meaning and ruin the quality of a translated project.

All clients agree that industry-specific terminology is key. However, we are often surprised to see how little clients invest in terminology management.

What is terminology management?
In short, terminology management involves creating and updating “termbases” or databases containing lists of industry-specific or company-specific abbreviations, acronyms, synonyms and definitions of terms in both the source and target languages, with the aim of standardizing the message.
As you can imagine, terminology management requires tools, time, procedures and regular updating.

From experience we know that clients usually start with an Excel glossary which often ends up being neglected because of a lack time and procedures to ensure regular follow-up. What’s more, Furthermore, employees often leave companies: this also has consequences when the client’s translation reviewer is a new recruit.

The most difficult challenge of all is keeping up with terminology preferences. These can vary, depending on the reviewer and even on the department  within the same company.

In an ideal world, the translation process would always be carried out by the same translation team with the same translators on the translation vendor’s side and the same reviewers on the client’s side. However, we don’t live in an ideal world, so, what solutions are there?

If clients have neither the necessary professional tools nor the time to deal with terminology management, translation vendors can help!

Before explaining how, let’s take a look at some definitions.

What is the difference between a dictionary, a termbase and a translation memory?

A dictionary is made up of words with a definition.

A termbase is made up of words with translations, descriptions and usage rules.

A translation memory is made up of translations of segments within a document.

Help from the translation vendor
A professional translation company can help to create an online client-specific termbase (glossary) with a client-specific or division-specific translation memory. Glossaries and translation memories are different (as we have just mentioned) yet complementary. They require access to professional tools and professional skills and the translation vendor also needs to find time to update them regularly.

Help from the client
The client needs to work closely with his or her translation vendor. Firstly, the client should assign a reviewer to review the client’s own terminology. This should be seen as a normal procedure.  When the content is reviewed and feedback is applied by the client, translation memory can then be updated by the translation vendor. The glossary of terms specifies the terms that should and shouldn’t be used. If a previously approved term has been changed, the translation team can investigate and make the necessary changes or make a note about a terminology preference. Ideally, terminology should be approved before starting a translation project, not after.

When a new reviewer joins the team, the client should inform the translation vendor to arrange a meeting (by phone or video-conference) with the translation team. A copy of the existing glossary can be sent to the new reviewer before any new translation projects begins.

When a specific challenge arises, it’s best if the client reviewer and the translation project manager discuss the issue together. The teams can find out which terms are no longer approved and why.

Correct terminology is key to ensuring success in any translation project. However, this is a daily challenge for both, clients and translation vendors. Despite translators’ best efforts to use the correct terminology, clients need to accept and understand the importance of working closely with their translation vendor by assigning a client reviewer. The client reviewer helps the translation vendor by approving terminology with which to update glossaries and translation memories. If the client cannot find anyone to review the client’s terminology, the translation vendor can hire a Subject Matter Expert (SME) to help with the review process and terminology approval instead.

If you are interested in finding our more about Birdwell’s terminology management services, contact us here!

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