Terminology Management: Why Is It So Important?

101 Guides30 April 20183.2k

Effective and efficient terminology management can be the difference between success and failure when launching a product or service into a foreign market. Getting it wrong can lead to confused customers and employees.

There are obvious benefits to using clear consistent language across all company product and service literature, so terminology should be on the agenda of every company. By standardizing the process through efficient management, all contributors will be able to produce consistent content, regardless of their language and location. Even in some cases, the need for subject-matter experience among translation teams can be less important, if translated terminology glossaries are provided by subject-matter experts prior to translation. Moreover, by using multilingual glossaries, larger translation teams can be assigned to projects, helping expedite delivery schedules without compromising consistency.

Accurate translations allow brands to create enduring relationships with customers and ensure a consistency of message between related products and services. Plenty of companies have been left embarrassed after their linguists failed to localize information consistently – it’s relatively straight forward and inexpensive, so just make sure that terminology mismanagement doesn’t hurt your organization!

Here is a quick introduction to multilingual terminology management:

What is terminology management?
Put simply, it is the process of systematically collecting, processing and presenting words that have a special meaning in any given subject field. The primary goal of terminology management is to make sure words closely associated with an organization’s products, services and branding are used consistently in both the source language and all other languages their products are translated into. 

How to do it successfully?
When building up the bank of terms, it’s important to include anyone who is involved in the communications process. Terms in source and target languages can cover different semantic fields and this is why authors, translators and reviewers need to agree on a standardized terminology glossary in order to bring clarity to the whole process. Also, give employees specific responsibilities for terminology database management – this can either be one person’s role, or a team can be put together. In order to make the process as seamless as possible, it’s a good idea to specify terminology for new products at an early stage. 

The need for detail 
While workers and technical writers will have an in-depth knowledge of a company’s products and services, linguists will not. This is why, where possible, additional information should be provided alongside an entry in the terminology database. A brief description of the term, how it is used in a certain context, links to related terms and synonyms that should never be used is among the helpful advice that should be listed. The more expansive the notes, the more likely communication materials will be clear and consistent across the brand’s literature. 

Review and maintenance 
Just as language is always evolving, so should your terminology database. Subject-matter experts should be tasked with reviewing the glossary at regular intervals to make sure it is correct, while quality assurance checks also need to be carried out. Considering the information is going to be shared with PR, marketing, advertising and translation agencies, it’s important there are no mistakes. The review should focus on the accuracy of definitions and decide which terms should be used. New and emerging terms also need to be added to the database as they crop up, as your writers should be comfortable using all terms your target audience is likely to encounter. Finally, don’t be afraid to seek professional support, as firms such as EQHO have plenty of experience in this field and can ensure the whole process runs smoothly. 

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