Terminology in Translation

September 21st, 2020 by Christian Faust - Posted in English

This article deals with the important topic of terminology in translation. We’ll look at the most important questions and delve into the best translation management solutions for successful translation projects, every time.

  • What is Terminology?
  • Why is Terminology so Important?
  • How Does Terminology Management Help?
  • How do I Get it Right?

A new customer in February summed up this issue perfectly:

We urgently need consistent terminology throughout our company. Yet, the workflow needs to be straightforward and the effort required should be the bare minimum, because our employees do have many other important tasks. What should we do?

Many companies face this same problem. That’s why in this blog we’ll take a look at each of the important questions above and offer a viable solution that quickly and easily achieves the desired goal.

Problems already occur when communicating within a single language. They inevitably increase significantly if the participants speak different languages.” (cf. Arntz, Picht, Mayer — Introduction to Terminology Work, 2002)

What is Terminology?

Terminology is the totality of the designations and terms in a specific subject area. It incorporates all technical vocabulary, which enables efficient and functional communication. In a nutshell, a translation project’s unique ‘terminology’ is made up of must use industry and customer specific terms. Sometimes this even includes trademarked terms or phrases.

The basis of every successful translation is a glossary. Usually, this will already exist, but it can also be created by the translator and agreed with the client.

Depending on the field and the degree of complexity, it’s rarely enough to merely compare a word in the source language to a word in the target language. Often additional context must be considered: subject area, definition, context, reference to the source, etc., in order to ensure the correct translation. Photos can also be helpful!

Translating a technical text is only possible if one has the vocabulary of the subject area, its terminology. The translator is forced to familiarize himself with the terminology of the text in question before the actual translation.” (cf. Arntz, Picht, Mayer — Introduction to Terminology Work, 2002)

Why is Terminology Important?

The importance of having consistent terminology can’t be overemphasized. Incorrect or inconsistent terminology accounts for almost half of all translation mistakes and subsequent costly rework. A survey conducted by the American magazine Multilingual identified one of the main problems facing international companies in relation to translations:

Nearly 80% of the respondents said that they see the main problem with their translations in terms of terminology: either there is no specific terminology or it is not used consistently. Any existing glossaries will not be updated, there is no company-wide access.

Terminology should always be consistent throughout an organisation. Only by maintaining a single terminology database can you ensure the consistency of terminology, as well as, your corporate identity.

The language industry is used to dealing with differing expressions, styles and preferences, but when we come across inconsistent terminologies, particularly in the target language, confusion and requests for clarification are common. The added costs and extra time required to provide clarification for complex technical terms that were not properly in sync can be significant. Ideally, the issue shouldn’t occur in the first place.

Luckily, this is easy to avoid. Uniform terminology is essential for seamless understanding of a statement in the target language. In certain circumstances, such as when operating a machine, for example, it can be a matter of great importance. This can have a significant impact on business operation, maintenance, health, safety and accident prevention. All things that are best gotten right the first time, we can all agree!

How Will Terminology Management Help Your Business?

Careful terminology management can facilitate translation reuse, reduce translation errors, shorten revision time, and help streamline the process of content creation and localization.” (cf. Rebecca Schneider, in: The language of localization, 2017)

Without a doubt, clean and correct terminology saves time, money (and nerves!) in the long term.

A consistent terminology that’s kept up to date and always available, avoids many uncertainties and queries between departments, from production to marketing and sales through to customer service. The end goal is reliable clarity.

A systematic approach is best. Only a single glossary that’s both useful and binding for everyone will work well. Everyone in the company should know that there is a glossary, where to find it and how to use it. Above all, the glossary must be kept up-to-date at all times. Our Top Tip: Several glossaries coexisting in different versions simply can’t be properly managed and negate the whole purpose. Stick to the same, singular, properly maintained glossary for everyone!

Good project managers not only take control of the process, but also manage relationships with everyone involved. They ask customers for additional information and resources such as terminology, reference documents, product information, and so on. They proactively address questions from translators and solve them effectively. They communicate progress, manage expectations and facilitate the next person’s work.” Andrew Lawless, CEO Rockant — It’s about people and relationships, in: Multilingual June 2016

How to Get it Right!

Thanks to collaborative workflows, terminology can be maintained and secured relatively easily and without taking up valuable time needed for the translation process itself. The initial effort of setting up the linguistic and subject-specific glossaries quickly pays off as potential errors are reduced, unnecessary confusion is avoided and the quality of translation is assured.

One time solutions, frustratingly different versions of terminology glossaries, missing updates, gaps in communication, repeated errors can all be things of the past!

Language Service Providers (LSPs)

Your dedicated LSP project manager is at the heart of excellent terminology management. They take the responsibility to manage the relevant and customer-specific terms via your own terminology database (TB).

At FaustTranslations.com, we adopt existing customer terminology and continue ongoing maintenance of the terminology database in real time throughout the translation, revision and project management.

Terminology should be considered:

  1. At the beginning of the translation process.
  2. And in the middle.
  3. And at the end.

State-of-the-art translation environments, such as Smartcat, have an integrated terminology module. Our customers can be connected easily and at no extra cost and have immediate, unrestricted access to their terminology within the system, at all times. Each translator is able to see the correct terminology when working. Linguists will be kept abreast of any possible deviations immediately (as well as the editors and the project manager).

In order for new knowledge to be used, the language barrier must first be overcome. But this can only happen without loss of information if the key information carriers, the terminologies, exist or can be created.” (cf. Arntz, Picht, Mayer — Introduction to Terminology Work, 2002)

All of these carefully managed procedures and innovative technologies are what make FaustTranslations.com able to offer our clients the highest quality translations, in the most time and cost efficient way!

Want to learn more about our innovative translation management? Either you drop by from time to time or even easier: Just follow us on LinkedIn! Or… just contact us today to find out how we can help!

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