10 May/18

Terminology Databases – Modern Stores of Knowledge with Potential

One of the most important tools for high-quality translations is a proper terminology management system – the Oxford Dictionary defines terminology as “The body of terms used with a particular technical application in a subject of study, profession, etc.”

The purpose: To impress customers and shareholders with a uniform representation to the outside world – domestically and internationally.

Today, technical terms are stored digitally and often in multilingual form in dictionaries, glossaries and thesauri. In professional translation, programs for computer-assisted translation – CAT tools – provide relief in the face of huge amounts of data. Some have a terminology system already integrated in their range of functions.

The objective: To move away from confusing Word and Excel files with two columns towards a uniform, transferable terminology management system.

Thomas Bacani, Senior Sales Manager at Across Systems GmbH
Thomas Bacani, Senior Sales Manager at Across Systems GmbH

Thomas Bacani*, Senior Sales Manager at Across Systems GmbH, one of the leading manufacturers of translation technology, showed us that there is even greater potential in systems like these.

Secure a triple triumph with professional terminology management

A proper terminology management system pays off for companies in many ways:

1) A clear and uniform corporate image

2) Time and cost savings over the long term

3) Sources of error and communication problems are minimised

As stores of knowledge, terminology databases have an internal and external use. Within a company, they serve as a reference book and dig up only those search results that are relevant to the company – unlike search engines that are freely available. In this way, the terminology can be made available across departments and throughout the company. At the same time, termbases are generally able to synchronise with third-part systems via Microsoft Excel or XML. Depending on the use within the company, this includes ERP systems such as SAP (master data maintenance), CMS, PIM and CAD programs, and many more with an internal glossary function. The objective of a company must be to move away from redundant, standalone data pools, towards a central data source which all of those involved in the process can use. This simplifies coordination processes and reduces unnecessary homographs and duplicates. The automated synchronisation of data from the terminology system to the third-party system prevents manual work and increases process reliability. For external suppliers, their customers’ databases are a tool and guarantee the consistent use of the corporate language – this aspect is worth its weight in gold, especially for the production of translations, since every market and every brand, every product and every product line of a company also uses a different selection of words.

Metadata – what additional information do terminology management systems provide?

In principle, terminology databases such as crossTerm can manage multiple languages. In addition to definitions, images and examples of use, they also provide information on abbreviations, acronyms and grammatical gender. This is important information, especially for translation and proofreading, which means that the processor needs to carry out less research and can therefore deliver orders more quickly.

The same objects should have the same name” – the terminologist as a leading actor

Inconsistent texts and translations read poorly and are confusing, which makes them the polar opposite of a successful piece of business communication. Clearly, not every company can afford an employee whose sole job is to take care of terminology. At the same time, it is important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. There is also a lot to do after introducing central terminology management – with a focus on data maintenance. Furthermore, the system is alive. New products appear on the market and new vocabulary must be added accordingly. In this way, source texts can be prepared to the best possible standard from the very beginning. Thanks to an interface with the text editor, authors receive immediate feedback from the terminology management software when unauthorised words have been used. The software then indicates the correct word choice. But the author has the final say on whether to ignore suggestions if they are completely out of place in the text – something which happens in marketing texts, for example. It becomes a problem, however, when customers are very strict on quality assurance. If a translator goes against stipulations, they cannot complete their job. As a result, translations are produced with clumsy wording and may be delivered late. It is better for companies to trust in the expertise of their translation supplier and the feel for language of human translators.

Are you looking for an individual solution to manage your terminology or would you like a concrete insight into how it works? You can find out more in a free online demo from Across Systems.

At this point, you can look forward to the next post on the topic of translation processes and order platforms. You can read about what the future of human translation might look like here.

*As Senior Sales Manager at Across Systems GmbH and a specialist in terminology work in companies as well as process automation, Thomas Bacani provides individual advice to companies of any size on the topics of translation technology and terminology management.