Terminology Management, inherent to corporate strategy

Terms used in key messages to enforce a brand are inherent to corporate strategy, and can be considered as a corporate asset. This is why it is essential for a global company to clarify potentially confusing terms, and ensure their consistency across all communication media and countries by establishing a terminology management system. Managing terminology concerns all functions within the company since terms are a commodity used by all.

Experience has also shown that a terminology management system will greatly improve any localization process, effectively reducing time and resources required to maintain consistency and translation accuracy across multiple languages. It will also ease the integration of terminology into translation memory and authoring systems.

The need for Terminology Management

It is necessary to create, manage and maintain subject field-specific terminology, making it accessible to all those creating content, especially in a global and complex, multi-market working environment. This Terminology base will be used as a reference for all those who need access to terminology: technical writers, translators, support people, management, legal departments, etc.

Assessing ROI on setting-up and creating a terminology management base is not easy. However, WhP has collected testimonials and evidence showing that a short-term ROI is possible.

How to manage Terminology

WhP offers advice on the creation and maintenance of Terminology Management Systems, no matter what processes or tools clients have adopted.

WhP is familiar with an array of Terminology Management third-party solutions. Most clients however manage terminology using spreadsheets or proprietary systems. What is important to know is that there are two standards for terminology exchange have been developed by the industry.

TBX is an Open Source, XML-based standard format for terminological data that promotes consistency and facilitates terminology information interoperability. It is now part of the ISO standard 30042:2008.

TBX-Basic is a lighter version of the TBX standard intended for small and medium-sized companies.

Major steps involved in building a Terminology Management System

To build a Terminology Management System it is necessary to analyze and collect existing data which will help identify key terms and preferences for your company.

  • Collection of reference material: First of all, a reference material needs to be assembled. This is a collection of several relevant sources, dealing with a specific subject matter. Open Source information can also be used (Microsoft glossaries, standard industry Terminology lists). In parallel, existing internal terminology data such as glossaries, exclusion lists, abbreviations and GUI labels should be collected.
  • Terminology extraction: This consists in going through the corpus to identify significant concepts and their corresponding terms, noting any relevant information about the usage of the term or the concept (such as a definition and a context sentence). Domain-specific or customer-specific terms are identified and then enter the terminology validation process.
  • Creation of a term base: All the validated terms are organized and associated with the necessary data categories (definition, context, usage, part-of-speech, …), and stored in a spreadsheet or a term base.

For localization, related terms found in the term base should be identified, translated and validated before the translation cycle starts. If there is no termbase, terminology extraction can take place before the translation cycle or during the flow of the project.