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What is terminology management?

Massi 150x150 "In this video I’m going to show you why terminology management is so important. With terminology management you can identify, store and manage company, customer or product specific terminology that needs to be translated in a specific way. This will help you achieve effective and accurate translations by organizing these terms with a clear set of rules for their usage."


Massimo Ghislandi, EVP of Translation Productivity

What is terminology management? - Video transcript

Ciao, I'm Massimo from SDL. And today I'm going to talk about terminology management.

So, what is terminology management?

I'd love to know how many people have heard this term, but it is one of the big things within the translation industry, the translation ecosystem. So, I'm going to use quite a lot of terms. Terminology management is the process of identifying, storing and managing company's, customer's or product terminology specific to those companies or customers or topic.

And the key thing is that that terminology needs to be translated in a specific way, and that's why you need to identify it, figure out which one of the terms, you need to store it somewhere, and you need to manage it. 'Cause the term kind of has a life. You identify it, it might go through changes through its time, and sometimes you also deprecate or kill a term. And a term is kind of not used anymore. So, that's a little bit about terminology management. This is actually quite a big topic. And so today, it's just a very brief, high-level introduction.

So, how is terminology stored?

So, one way to make sure you keep these terms is to store them, funnily enough, in a termbase. A termbase is like a database, it's a place where you can store these terminology. And we look in a minute what is terminology. And one of the interesting things is that not only you want to store those terms, but you want to be able to use and access those terms. So, when you put them in this termbase, or database, and I'm not using the word dictionary, 'cause it's kind of a little bit different, then it can be accessed by a CAT tool, which is a software that can help you translate.

So, what is in a termbase?

So, this is the million dollar question. Lots of things can be in the term base. So, it's obviously searchable and it's a database. It contains various things. First of all, a term base is multi-lingual. Of course, you can create just English to Italian, um, or Italian to English but one interesting thing in, in, in a termbase, actually you can create term bases with multiple languages.

So, for example, you might have one term, and the five, six different languages for that term. So, you're going to store a term, and a term is something, it could be typically a, a one word or a short sentence on how something needs to be translated. It could say SDL or Trados. Those are terms. They are a brand and they don't need to be translated. You could say that actually even terminology management. That could be a term, because you might decide that you want to translate terminology management always in a specific way. And you know what? You're translating terminology management in different languages might actually be, you know, you could translate it in different ways. And so, if you decide this is how I'm going to translation management into Italian, you want to make sure you identify that and store it. But you don't just store the term. You actually can store reference notes and rules on how you use that term. So, you might decide you're going to say terminology management. You might store some context and you might say this is the approved translation. You might also have a translation that you absolutely don't want. And say, this translation is forbidden. But, this is one example. There's endless examples.

Imagine you are working in a sophisticated engineering type of context where there are some really obscure terms for maybe pieces of machinery. You are storing the term, and you might even store a picture so you can actually see this is this piece. So, it's kind of interesting how you can store lots of different information in the term base.

One question that gets often asked is, "What is the difference between the termbase and a translation memory?"

There are other videos on CAT tools, translation memory, and so all of these work together, but translation memory stores whole sentences or even paragraphs whereas a termbase typically is made out of single words or short expressions. And they have to be translated in a very specific, consistent way. So, that's kind of the main, main high level difference between a translation memory and what goes into a termbase.

So, you've done all this work. And you've kind of got a termbase. How does it actually work?

So, obviously the biggest effort is creating the terminology. Making sure that you're identifying those terms. You can kind of go about it in a couple of ways, by the way. You can do it all in a one. You scour all of your documents and create a termbase. But, you can also do it as you go, as you start translating, you might identify sentence by sentence some terms that you want to identify, translate and create a termbase entry.

But once you have that termbase, one of the key things in the CAT tool is that you will be able to search automatically whether there is a term in the source, so if you're translating again, English to Italian, there is that term in English. The software can automatically identify this is a term and this is how you should translate it, or maybe how you should not translate it and give you that kind of piece of advice.

So, you get suggestions displayed to you as the translation happens. And so you can very easily insert, even as you type you get automatic suggestions, a little bit like your mobile phone, that kind of suggests words that you need to enter, based on what you typed before, you can actually get a suggestion as you translate of what terms to use. So, that's a little bit how it can be used in daily basis. So, once you made the effort of creating the terms, then you get a lot of value as they get suggested to you as you translate.

So, what are the benefits of using terminology management?

So, as I said there is a little bit of effort required. In another video on translation memory we talked about translation memory kind of builds itself as you're doing your normal job of translating. Terminology might require a little bit more effort. You need to identify those terms and maybe you need to really think carefully what is the right translation. I mean, do you need to even get somebody else to say, "Yep, I'm okay with that translation for that term." But once you have it, the benefits are really significant.

First of all is around consistency. Translation memory helps with consistency but terminology takes it to a different level. To make sure that specific terms are translated consistently time and time again. And we've done some research, and actually 48% of re-work is done to terminology errors. It's one of those things that can go wrong really easily. So if you store it, and you use it, and it gets suggested to you, it can really help on consistency and in general with translation quality, because whoever is then reviewing that translation will see that you have stuck to the same terminology that they were happy with.

Obviously, the terminology, translation memory, work together. It kind of helps. You've got one place where all of this is managed and the CAT tool ultimately gives you translation memory suggestions, it gives you your terminology suggestions, so it all works together in one place.

And it does save time. Some companies have term lists of thousands of terms, literally thousands of terms. Can you imagine having to scroll through manually and figure out was this a term? How do I need to translate it? So, having a terminology database that automatically identifies what are the terms and how they should be translated, every work and suggestion to you can save you a huge amount of time.

So, my take on terminology, and this is, as I said, is a really high-level introduction. Terminology Management is actually quite a big topic. And we've got lots of webinars on this which people normally find quite interesting, but in essence, it's a very worthy exercise. It's worth spending a little bit of time identifying and getting the right translation for the terms, store them in a dedicated tool that then will automatically suggest those terms and translations as you work and ultimately not only you will have better quality, because you can use the accurate terms all the time, but also it can save you a little bit of time.

So it's one of those things that is worth spending a bit of time up front to make sure that then you can save a lot of time at the end, once you have done that effort, as you are working in your daily translation, you will save some time.