Terminology Management: Getting Started

by | Jul 17, 2019

To commemorate the launch of the new Wordbee Terminology Management Solution, we’re diving into how to get started with terminology management as an organization, LSP, or freelance translator.

In a previous post, we discussed the role of terminology in translation as well as the main benefits of terminology management in terms of efficiency, quality, and cost.

Today we want to dig a bit deeper into terminology management and analyze how to lay out the building blocks of a termbase, i.e. the terminology entry.

Terminology Management: When and How to Start

Developing a terminology database from scratch is challenging and requires a considerable amount of time and effort. If you are a large organization trying to decide if you need to beef up your terminology management, you are probably having issues with terminology already.

If you are a translator or service provider working with a bite-sized client or project, the best time to develop a term base is before starting a translation project. Unless your client has some terminology data at hand, you’ll need to allocate some time for term mining and eventual validation of entries.

Terminology management is not a one-off activity: it involves updating existing entries, removing obsolete entries, and adding any new ones that will emerge during translation. Maintenance should be done on a regular basis, not just for a specific translation project.

A well-made termbase will help you create as many databases as you require: individual departments, products, clients, or subject-matters can all have their own databases. Single distinct glossaries for the entire automotive industry, the entire legal field, or the entire medical sector don’t make much sense. You can develop a comprehensive termbase with proper classifications and descriptors to extract separate glossaries when needed, for each domain/project. Updating may be done on each glossary, to be reimported in the database afterwards, for easier maintenance.

Creating a Termbase

In practical terms, a termbase can be created from a spreadsheet. CAT tools like Wordbee are generally able to import files in a typical spreadsheet format like CSV.

A terminology entry is the building block of any termbase and it contains all the information concerning a term (e.g. the term itself, language, definition, subject field, etc.).

Depending on its use, an entry will contain more or less data. In the case of a translation project, for example, a terminology entry typically contains the fields described underneath. Of course, the number and sequence of the fields will vary according to the needs and/or purpose of the glossary.

Keep in mind that acronyms, synonyms, and abbreviations (which can cause frustration to translators 😉 ) as well as product names, all need to have separate entries in a termbase.

As an organization, you’ll want to consider how you want to structure your terminology data in a way that makes sense to you.

Term

This field contains the actual term: it can be a simple term (computer) or a phrase (personal computer). Each term should be entered using the case (lower or upper case) it is actually written with and in its basic form: a noun will be entered in the singular form (computer and not computers), a verb will be entered in the infinitive form (write and not writes, wrote or written) and so on.

Part of Speech (POS)

This field indicates the category of the terminological unit: noun (male, female or neutral), adjective, adverb, verb.

Domain

This field contains the subject field to which the term belongs, e.g.  economics (macro-, micro-, etc.), law (family, crime, civil, etc.), art and so on. It can often be useful to assign more than one subject code. Thus, for example, the term “environmental legislation” could be attributed to both the domain “environment” and the domain “law.”

Definition

This is a fundamental element of every terminology entry: It gives a wording formulation of the concept associated with the term and allows it to be differentiated from other concepts within a conceptual system.

Status

This field provides information on the processing steps of a term. A term can be labeled as “validated,” “to be verified,” “obsolete.” This field is particularly important if the database is compiled by several persons or is subject to different levels of verification (for ex., validation by a subject matter expert or by the client).

Context

This field contains an example (usually a sentence) in which the term is used.

Definition Source

This field contains the bibliographic reference, document or resource from which the definition was extracted or derived.

Compilation date

Indicates the date on which the entry was completed or updated. This is usually system-stamped.

In future blog posts, we will analyze how to conduct term mining and validation, how to write definitions, and how to evaluate and select terminology sources. In the meantime, if you have any terminological issues, feel free to write to us.

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