Terminology Management in Business

What is Terminology?

In essence terminology is the binding definition of terms and wording in one or more languages which can theoretically explain anything including processes, products and concepts etc.

Terminology is the study of terms and their use in one way or another whenever and wherever specialized information and knowledge are created, communicated, recorded, processed, transformed or re-used and so on. It is a structured set of terms and concepts in a particular subject field and it can be considered the infrastructure of specialized information.

Terminology  Management

Terminology management is the science of terms and definitions which is primarily concerned with manipulating terminological resources for specific purposes. Terms in terminology have exact definitions within the field, which is not necessarily the similar as their meaning in ordinary use. Without using proper terminology resources technical writing and technical documentation can be impossible.

Literally terminology management is the core of an organization and uses a basic common language across different functional areas. At present every organization possesses atleast the base level of the terminology management which is the internal terminology. Therefore they are able to achieve a greater degree of consistency in their language in order to operate more efficiently, with less redundancy, generate substantial cost savings and new revenue opportunities.

Importance of Terminology Management

Nowadays most of the organizations are using different phrases and words which are eligible to convey a clear and unified meaning and image of what they offer to their customers. The vital part of this effort is the consistent use of uniform language in line with industry and market standards.

With the rise of globalization most of the companies are keen to tap into the foreign markets as a way of expanding their businesses. Hence, with different cultures, languages, customs around the globe this requires linguistic, market and cultural expertise. Thus most of the companies utilize standard terminologies as a proactive decision not only to produce positive returns in intellectual asset reuse but also to brand consistency.

It generates the competitive advantage to the organization by improving customer satisfaction. In addition to that experience has also shown that a proper terminology management system will greatly improve any localization process, reduce required time and resource effectively to maintain consistency and accuracy across multiple languages in the translation processes.

Terminology Management Approaches

There are three main approaches that most of the organizations practices in this process.

1. In-house Terminology Management

Managing terminology in-house certainly has numerous advantages such as it permits developers, engineers, copy writers and marketing experts to have active input within a centrally controlled and maintained system. This is one of the clear routes to practice if a company has subsidiaries or agents in the countries of the target language. Definition of terms in the intention languages can be organized by the subsidiary reporting to the central in-house team, assuming all parties involved have the time and expertise to handle this successfully.

This centrally-coordinated approach gives a company total control over all terms used in its documentation, maximum flexibility to familiarize terminology and a powerful tool that translators will appreciate, as it reduces the amount of research required on their part. Therefore it leads to a better end product. Managing terminology centrally reduces the total amount of effort required. Rather than each translator or product manager “reinventing the wheel” on a project-by-project basis, each term only needs to be defined once and is then made accessible to all authors and translators. In almost all cases, this is a highly valuable method of terminology management, although with a dedicated in-house staff rarely the lowest-cost solution.

2. Externally Managed Terminology

Having terminology managed externally by a carefully selected translation/localisation partner is usually the lowest-cost solution. Properly  implemented, some obvious pitfalls can be avoided. As some companies may use multiple translation suppliers, it is not always easy to  coordinate terminology across all vendors. One way of dealing with this is to appoint a lead supplier with overall responsibility for  terminology management, who manages and makes available all terms to the other parties. Of course, this model relies heavily on the  goodwill and cooperation of all suppliers. It is therefore vital that a company picks the right supplier and ensures participation.

3. No Effective Terminology Management

Many companies show great care and attention when authoring in their native language but then rely on their translation agencies to get  everything else right. Indeed, they often assume that the agencies have a terminology system in place that is working effectively.  However, actively managing terminology is one key area where many translation agencies themselves fall down. Some may not actively pursue terminology management at all, which means that their translators rely on concordance searching, their own knowledge of the industry or guesswork. When selecting translation vendors, it is always worth asking about their terminology management policy and whether they employ a terminologist.

Terminology Management Workflow

During the initial phase, existing data will be selected from a variety of internal sources such as glossaries, exclusion lists, abbreviations and user interface terminologies. A new set of key terms will then be added upfront. All these terms will be validated and deployed. In the process of terminology extraction terminology is going through a texts or group of texts in order to clarify the concepts and the designations. At the end of term harvesting all the extracted terms are stored in a term definition file.

Benefits of terminology Management

  • Improve local and global brand consistency.
  • Produce high quality global content.
  • Reduce the cost of translation.
  • Shorten time-to-market delivery of global content.
  • Improve interior and exterior communications.
  • Comply with standards and legal requirements.

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