The nuts and bolts of terminology management
In November of last year, CSA Research once again highlighted the concept of ‘augmented translation’, that is to say the process of human translation as enhanced and streamlined by available technologies. This latter group continues to be boosted by the increasing presence of artificial intelligence and CSA sees terminology management as an integral part of this ever-evolving human / technological translation approach. The experienced researchers at CSA suggest that ‘augmented translation’, of which terminology management technology is at the heart, is the inevitable way forward.
As we established in earlier blogs, for any sizeable localization project, managing terminology with anything other than a sophisticated software system seems unwise. The growing choice of terminology management software is testament to this and many language service providers (LSPs) have created their own tools in order to enrich their service offering and create an easier process for their clients.
Managing terminology is therefore better with technology. Incorporating a terminology tool into localization means consistent and effective global communication of your brand and products, as well as better enterprise-wide collaboration. But just how much will the software do? Where does the role of the language professional stop and start and what part does the client play? Nuts and bolts time.
How much does the software do and where do the humans fit in?
Establishing and managing a database of terminology or ‘termbase’ is undoubtedly a collaborative effort. It should involve the relevant company departments and, in many cases, all employees are given an opportunity to contribute to the process. Formalizing your corporate language requires organization-wide agreement and can on occasion be a surprisingly emotive discussion as colleagues decide on which terms should define their services, products and company brand.
A specialized terminology management program will enable a cooperative workflow for the process of defining, checking and authorizing your corporate language. A server-based tool is ideal and enables access by everyone involved in the project, integrating into other systems via an API. Your language service provider (LSP) will have a team of editors, translators, terminologists, linguists and developers at its disposal to guarantee expertise at every step of the process and using a terminology management tool will mean their skills are used where they are most effective, letting the technology perform the repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Sending those Excel spreadsheets of glossaries around the world by email is a thing of the past.
Extraction, review and approval
It sounds as painful as a trip to the dentist but we can assure you it isn’t! Extraction is the process of identifying the special words and expressions associated with your company and it’s the first stage of establishing a corporate language termbase. The software automatically scrapes or mines the data it’s given and produces candidates for ‘terms’ or ‘concepts’ (explained here in our blogs), which will then be filtered and reviewed by a team of experts from the LSP with input from your company project leaders. This ‘approval’ process can be designed to custom fit each individual organization.
Terms can be very varied. They could be phrases, trademarks, product names, slogans, abbreviations, technical designations and so on. Each of these will be defined by a single meaning. Words which may have multiple definitions will be separately stored as individual entries in a termbase as they represent different ‘concepts’.
Some terminology software systems will extract terms in different languages from previously translated documents and these are matched to their equivalents in the source language in the termbase. If no relevant translated material is in existence the translations can be defined in advance of being passed to the translator, or be added as the project progresses, in any number of languages.
As well as definitions, other Information included in the termbase could include notes on spelling, technical data, images, usage guidelines and the term’s origin and author. The resulting database is therefore a rich source of shared information for your corporate language.
A key role in building and maintaining a termbase is that of the terminologist. The terminologist and has an in-depth understanding of the software and how to use it most effectively to validate terms and ensure that no duplicates are present. Ideally terms are approved prior to the main body of the translation work and should involve content authors in consultation with the terminologist and possibly subject matter experts.
Language can be a volatile commodity. It constantly changes and evolves. This will also be true of your corporate language. Technical labelling might change, marketing might reinvent your catchwords or quite simply, some language may become outdated. Your termbase needs to be regularly maintained and checked for quality and your LSP can appoint a terminologist or other language expert to oversee this task.
What about the all-important ROI?
It would be easy to see terminology management as just another expense. It might feel like your company is having to invest more time, funds and effort into an area of business where monetary returns are hard to quantify. But seen from another angle, terminology management should mean increased communication effectiveness across your organization and with its collaborators and customers. That is something certainly worth investing in.
Both cost avoidance and increased profitability are important when measuring ROI and terminology management sees advantages in both these areas.
The increased efficiency that terminology management brings during the localization process should trigger a reduction in costs. It has been estimated that translators spend 20 – 25% of their time on research or terminology activities, meaning that this time is significantly reduced when they have access to pre-translated terminology databases. Less time spent on revisions and error correction also equal time saved.
A centralized terminology database not only benefits translators. All documentation associated with your company taps in to this consolidated termbase, thus increasing accuracy and repeatability. You can hope to see a fall in the number of customer queries and help desk tickets as the quality and clarity of all language content is improved.
Terminology management should also lead to more keyword consistency for SEO. This in turn results in improved findability, triggering more clicks and ultimately more prospective customers. Furthermore, a reinforced and consistent brand image online and beyond will contribute to increased sales.
Although experts have tried to establish industry metrics for measuring terminology management, the reality is that each project should be taken on an individual basis. Some larger projects involving advanced extraction software can produce candidates for terms at a fast rate and some projects will require significant human input for particularly important and company-specific terms.
t’works has two in-house terminology tools at its disposal, tf-term and ez:term. Many years of experience have taught us that systematic terminology work is highly beneficial to the localization process. Our server-based tools can be accessed by all those involved in a project via their browser and integrate easily into many other systems via a REST-based API. They enable us to provide a cost-effective terminology management solution and to work closely with our clients to identify, store and manage their corporate language. Using tools to define terminology makes localization easier and more efficient.
A piece of cake
Using integrated software as part of your terminology management process shouldn’t be daunting. It helps establish a more streamlined and collaborative localization environment and has a positive impact on all aspects of communication within your organization. And with the help of the language experts at your LSP, it should be a piece of cake.
If you would like to know more about any aspect of terminology management,