What is terminology management?

Terminology management is the process of identifying, storing and managing client-specific terminology that needs to be consistently translated in a particular way.

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Tired of terminology inconsistencies within your corporate literature?

Need to standardise your brand language but don’t know where to start? We use sophisticated terminology management tools and your own approved translations to create and maintain custom-built glossaries that can be accessed by key stakeholders via a web browser to ensure consistent, on-brand communication.

Managing your terminology

If you are thinking about translating your documents or website for the very first time, we can help by setting up a brand-new glossary for you. Using your source content, we can compile and translate a list of your key terms for approval by your in-country offices.

What is terminology?

The first step is to identify key terminology in your corporate wording. This could be standalone words specific to your company such as product names, or industry-specific expressions that may have different translations depending on what area they are used for.

Additionally, terminology can also encompass abbreviations, acronyms or terms that should not be translated.

What is a termbase?

A termbase is a multilingual database, also known as a glossary, where your terms are stored for lookup and management.

It will contain the source term and its translation as well as any additional information relevant to each term, such as a description, definition, visual reference, the date the term was stored, who it was approved by and when, rules for usage, etc.

Why is it important to manage terminology?

If you work in a highly specialised field such as medicine or law, ensuring terminology is translated in a correct and consistent manner is critical as it could otherwise compromise safety or have devastating legal consequences.

Even if you work in a less sensitive industry, managing your terminology has several benefits:

  • Improves brand image: Using a clear and consistent brand language across all your target markets will improve the customer experience and thereby promote your brand image across international markets. As a business, when you use corporate terminology consistently and are able to adapt it to new markets and languages, it shows you really know your stuff.
  • Increases translation quality: Even a translator who is highly experienced in your specific industry may not choose the same word your company uses to translate a particular term as there could be tens of possible options to choose from. With the help of a custom glossary, the translator is able to deliver an on-brand translation by ensuring they follow key approved terminology specific to your business.
  • Saves time: Using a terminology management system allows translators, revisers and local office reviewers to quickly look up and verify terms without the need for extensive research, improving turnaround times at each stage of the translation process.

How does a terminology management tool differ from a translation memory tool?

On a basic level, a terminology management tool stores words or short expressions that must be translated in a specific way, whereas a translation memory tool stores whole segments made up of sentences or even paragraphs that have previously been translated as part of other material. These translated sentences may or may not be approved by the client, depending on the workflow followed. However, all terms within a terminology management tool will have been verified by the client or their local office reviewers before the translations are added to the termbase.

A translation memory tool will allow translated segments from a document to be reused across other similar material, while a terminology management tool is used for reference as to how particular terms/expressions within a document should be translated.

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How to choose the right terminology management system

There are several different terminology management tools/systems available with different features. When deciding which is best for your requirements, it is important to think about the following factors:

  • The terminology management system should integrate seamlessly with your existing workflows and infrastructure with minimal disruption.
  • Consider the number of end-users and their requirements. You need a tool that permits multiple users to access the content simultaneously, from different devices and locations. You should also be able to control their rights so you do not end up with unauthorised persons making changes to the content of the glossary.
  • An effective system should offer a reporting feature that allows you to keep track of all the changes made to the glossary, such as who requested the change, when and why. That way your system will you give you an accurate record of a term’s life cycle and the evolutions it has undergone over time.

At Planet Languages we work with dedicated terminology management tools that can also integrate into our computer-aided translation tools, such as translation memory software. This not only allows our linguists to search for particular terms, but the software can also automatically identify a term in the source text and display a suggestion from the termbase for how it should be translated.

Terminology management best practices

In order to make the most out of terminology management, the following best practices should be observed:

  1. Identifying and collecting source terms: You may already have a monolingual glossary of key terms relevant to your company, or you may need to put one together. We can support you with this first step by extracting the most frequently used key terminology based on the content we translate for you or from a selection of your corporate documents.
  2. Creating the glossary: After sourcing the key terms, we can create a glossary or termbase with respective definitions, guidelines for style/use and any visual reference material. This can be a time-consuming process, as some definitions can vary on a contextual basis, but it is important to get it right as the more information provided the more accurate the termbase will be.
  3. Translating the glossary: Once you are satisfied that the termbase is complete, the source terms can then be translated into the relevant languages. We can arrange approval directly with your in-country offices to ensure your native-speaking colleagues are happy with our suggested translations before they are added to the glossary.
  4. Maintaining the glossary: As your company and product offering evolve, so too will terminology, so it is important to keep your glossary up to date with any new terms or to delete any obsolete ones. We will maintain the glossary by ensuring any requested changes from your in-country reviewers are reflected for future use and any new terms are translated and added to the termbase once approved.

Final thoughts

Effective maintenance and management of a custom glossary will really pay dividends in ensuring that future messages you deliver to your key markets are consistent across all the various communication channels that you employ (printed corporate literature, press releases, websites, blogs, social media, etc.).

Get in touch to find out more about the glossaries we have created or to see whether we can apply a similar approach to creating your own custom glossary.

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Of course, we can prepare a glossary based on the content we translate for you. The details in glossaries can range from a simple source term/phrase and target term/phrase glossary to a glossary that contains details such as definitions, synonyms, who approved the content and when, product images, notes on when the term should be used etc.
Our translation environment integrates with glossaries and allows us to perform Quality Assurance checks to ensure that the terms in the translation are in accordance with your approved terminology.
Planet Languages works with server-based glossaries and web-based platforms that allow you to access your glossaries at any time. Your dedicated glossaries containing approved terminology can also integrate with a variety of applications so that you always have your approved terminology at your fingertips. The access to glossaries is granted using various rights. For example, we always advise providing your stakeholders with read-only access, as editing rights should ideally only be granted to experienced language professionals who can ensure that any changes applied to the glossary fully comply with your requirements and are consistent with previously approved content.