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Every company should have an English glossary or list of company approved terminology for their products and processes. And once you have your English term base, you’ll need equivalent ones for all the languages you’ll translate into. In short, terminology management is a must in a best-practice professional localization or translation process for your organizational content. Continue reading to learn more about terminology management in translation.

What are key steps for managing terminology in English?

You usually create terminology where you develop the products and services of your company. The engineers in research and development, along with the technical authors, create the terms and (hopefully) start a list of terms (glossary). This list would include the term, a definition, article number, photo, or whatever is needed to best describe the term. In best practice, the chosen terminology would be available for the entire company, often via an Intranet. That way, everybody in the company knows exactly what words to use when describing a certain product or task. Sometimes marketing is involved in the creation of terminology as well.

Terminology should then be used by anyone responsible for creating documentation to provide a more clear understanding. You should subsequently translate these terms and make them available in all target languages.

What are some best practices for terminology management in translation?

If a company doesn’t have an established list of terminology when they employ a language service provider, their translation team will typically need to “mine” for terminology during the translation process. They can do this when they have to, of course. But it’s always preferable for the organization itself to provide a glossary or term base. After all, nobody knows better what your organization’s key terms are than your own staff.

The best language service companies use CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools. And the optimal way to manage translated glossary terms is within a CAT environment. This helps ensure that translators consistently choose the right translated terms throughout the process of translating your organizational content. So, CATs can certainly be a major component in the best-practice maintenance of your terminology in other languages.

If you have native speakers of the target language in your organization, they can review the translated terms and inform your language service provider if they are suitable for your needs. If your staff can propose better translations of terms, they should share those recommendations with your language service partner. You can also extend this process of client review to the rest of your translated and localized materials.

Who should assume responsibility for managing terminology in English?

We recommend that one person or department manage and maintain your English terminology. For this purpose, you could reach out to staff involved in documentation, technical writing, marketing, R&D, etc. The maintenance and management of terminology should include a systematic decision-making process. This should include the determination of which terms you will approve and incorporate into the database and which ones you will not. Such an important decision often involves many departments. Another question is what kind of definition or attributes will accompany the term so that you can describe it best. Therefore, the person managing the terminology should have the authority to make those decisions with respect to product management as well as corporate language. Unsurprisingly, massive global companies such as Microsoft have a team of dedicated terminologists in place.

Who should handle terminology management in translation?

We can easily answer this question! We strongly recommend that you assign a professional translation company like TrueLanguage to manage your terminology throughout the translation process. And again, when you have foreign-language staff who can review translations of your organizational content in collaboration with your language service partner, all the better.

How many terms can one expect in a text?

It’s almost impossible for us to answer this general question because it depends on what kind of text you have under consideration.  As a very vague rule of thumb – and from our experience – you shouldn’t classify any more than about two percent of words in new text as “terminology.” But, as mentioned here, this may vary.

Okay, I’m ready to get started! What next?

Want to find out more? Reach out to TrueLanguage today for a cost-free, no-obligation quote!