Terminology is so important
According to the Oxford Dictionary, “terminology” refers to the body of terms used with a particular technical application in a subject of study, profession, etc. It refers to the words used in a specific field (legal, medical, technical, etc.). These terms can be collected in glossaries and termbases, for example. Entries can contain additional information such as definitions, notes, usage examples, images, grammatical information (part of speech, gender, number), usage information such as preferred, forbidden and deprecated terms, synonyms, geographical preference, etc.
Today, a large proportion of documents is written in specialised language, a big part of which involves terminology. Undoubtedly, terminology helps us to fully understand specific topics. Well-defined terminology can help people across various industries communicate more efficiently. Good terminology work reduces ambiguity and increases clarity, which makes it an important factor in quality.
According to ISO 1087-1, terminography is defined as “part of terminology work concerned with the recording and presentation of terminological data”. Terminography is all about collecting information about the concept, gathering the potential terms, evaluating the collected information and recording the terminological entries in a term base.
Terminology management is obviously an essential part of the translation and localisation process. Translators, for example, use terminology to make their translations more precise and consistent.
Terminology management is the process of documenting terms in a systematized and orderly fashion. The process can be as simple as creating a list of terms that appear in a text and their equivalents in the target languages, or as complex as creating concept maps and diagrams of how terms are related to each other. In the middle would be a list of terms and equivalents, plus term definitions and perhaps even examples of contextual usage of the terms.
Terminology management should be begun before a document is actually translated. Since terms are the key to meaning in a technical text, documenting them upfront can help a linguist become even more familiar with the meaning of a text. While the step can take a little more time in the short run, it makes translation easier because the linguist has more familiarity with the text and its meaning. Some theorists think of translation as a decision-making process, and when terminology is managed upfront, many of the decisions are already made before the formal translation has begun.
Reduce costs and save time – A terminology guide makes clear which terms to use and which to avoid. As a consequence, the editing and reviewing process is faster, as there will be fewer corrections and clarifications, and the quality assessments will be shorter, saving time and money. The same holds true for the translation and localisation process. A translation team should only use the approved translations for the corresponding source terms, which increases efficiency as it reduces the time needed to research technical terms and results in lower costs if the terms are already stored in a termbase or a translation memory and can be leveraged. Additionally, it will decrease the time and effort for editing and proofreading the translations as the terms should remain the same throughout the documents. Terminology management also helps to avoid external costs as it contributes to ensuring the compliance of your products, having clear technical documentation conforming to the regulations, improving legal certainty (e.g. relating to product liability), avoiding costs associated with regulatory and trademark issues, as well as reducing internal costs as there will be fewer misunderstandings, help desk costs, etc.
Create a clear brand voice – Clearly defined terminology can also help to promote brand and corporate identity, and it can help your team members and customers understand the brand’s voice. It is crucial that an organisation has a clear voice for its brand. Well-defined terminology offers potential for competitive advantages thanks to specific company language, in contrast to that of the competition, which can result in more revenue due to information quality, image, branding, SEO, findability, global recognition, etc.
Promote knowledge transfer and improve customer satisfaction – Clear terminology promotes effective knowledge transfer and sharing within the company, facilitates the creation of user-friendly documentation for customers, optimises the usability of your products, and increases customer satisfaction because the information is clear, which in turn reduces the number of support calls and customer complaints.
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