What’s in your toolbox? The methods and tools behind terminology management

What’s in your translation toolbox? You’ve got the latest CAT tool and that hip new QA software, but something just seems to be missing. Without a terminology tool, odds are you’re currently spending a lot of time researching industry and client-specific terms. Worse still, you may be using terms inconsistently or incorrectly – you’re missing key definitions and rules.

It’s time to seriously evaluate your method for terminology management. In this post, we’ll look at how you can implement, manage and effectively use terminology management to your benefit as a valuable tool in translation.

The Basics

Terminology management is the process of recording terms commonly used by specific clients or in specialised translation (clinical trials, technical manuals, contracts, etc.). 

Freelance translators and translation agencies typically record terms in a database with approved definitions, sample sentences, and rules for using each term. 

Clients may attach a terminology base with their projects, but on the whole, it is the language service providers responsibility to manage the terminology that they have acquired through experience. The problem that many translators face is that creating a quality terminology base takes time. Do you, a busy translator, really have time for that? Just consider the fact that you’re already spending valuable time researching, contacting clients with questions, and correcting mistakes. Time spent on terminology management is time saved in the long run.

The Database

Start by collecting terms that are consistently used in your translations, then identify the correct definitions and rules for using them. After that, look for terms in feedback from suppliers, clients, and 3rd party reviewers. Feedback can include comments, queries, and recommendations from SMEs (subject matter experts).

Create a terminology database as an Excel spreadsheet with the following information:

  1. Word in source language
  2. Word in target language
  3. Product or Domain name
  4. Definition
  5. Sample sentence
  6. Client preferences for usage
  7. Name of translator entering data

For translation agencies, you’ll want to make the database accessible to all in-house translators. Moreover, you’ll need to make a plan for properly updating the database so that terms won’t get duplicated or overwritten.

Tip: You can either designate one person to update the database for the whole team, or set up a system in which every translator is assigned a colour to use when updating the system.

The Tools

The terminology base must be accessed at each stage of translation, using terminology management tools.

SDL has an excellent app called Glossary Converter. Upload your Excel spreadsheet in the app, and it will automatically convert it into a termbase file, which you can load into SDL Trados Studio. In memoQ, an app is not needed, you can simply upload the spreadsheet before translating. These terminology tools will then automatically look for repeated words that match your database, and insert the correct terms as you translate each segment.

When conducting a QA check, simply upload the Excel spreadsheet into your QA tool, such a Verifika or Xbench. Terms will be automatically checked for consistency and accuracy.

The Benefits

The benefits from creating and using a termbase are numerous.

Firstly, the database survives staff changes. New translators can learn from former colleagues and expand upon that knowledge.

Secondly, it’s a reliable place to record feedback received from 3rd party reviewers, experts working with specific clients. This is important as it will help you meet every client’s expectations for future translations.

Thirdly, it will allow you to easily share knowledge across multiple teams and offices around the world. For example, we often send the base to multiple translators working on a large project. This ensures accuracy and saves time that would normally be spent answering questions or correcting mistakes.

And last, but certainly not least, your termbase will consistently ensure quality in highly specialised translations. For example, Albion Languages translators have found it to be particularly useful when working on software localisation that requires consistent use of terminology exactly to the client’s or product’s specifications.

The translation industry is packed with helpful tools and innovative technology to help you do your job more efficiently and accurately. Investing time in translation management and using a good TM tool is by far the simplest way to boost productivity and grow your business!

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