Terminology Management:
DOs and DON'Ts continued...

In this issue we continue our main Cover Story on Terminology Management. We'll discuss what not to do when creating your glossary.

To help shine some light on the topic, we decided to share with you Argos' years of know-how and collective best practices in a two-part cover story. Last month, we examined Terminology Management and how to best apply it to keep your translation costs low. Part one focused on an overview and the DOs (copy located here), while part two (published below) focuses on common pitfalls and the DON'Ts.

Part Two: Terminology Management (The DON'Ts).
Terminology Management is an integral component of the translation/localization process. It uses glossaries to keep multilingual texts consistent and accurate. But, simply creating a glossary is not enough. You need to make sure it is error-free. Otherwise, you risk corrupting your content during subsequent translation. Below, we will show you how to avoid common pitfalls when you create and use your glossaries.

  1. Avoid double entries and conflicting entries
    Avoid adding terms that are already translated, albeit differently, in the glossary. Avoid conflicting entries, especially if they are in singular or plural forms, but whose meaning is not affected by plurality.

    Always check if a similar term to the one you want to add, does not already exist in the glossary.

  2. Do not include prepositions and articles that can have different meaning depending on context
    Multi-meaning prepositions (ex.: IT, to, from) generate a lot of mismatches during automatic terminology consistency checks.

  3. Avoid 2 letter acronyms
    If a glossary is going to be used for automatic consistency checks. Ensure that your LSP can customize those automatic checkers. Otherwise, including 2-letter acronyms can generate a high number of false positives.

  4. Avoid inconsistencies between compound entries
    For example, in a glossary filled with construction equipment terminology, the word 'Loader' can be translated differently when used as a base term and differently when part of a compound term like "front loader", "wheel Loader" or "backhoe loader". The translated compound term may not necessarily use the meaning of the base term 'loader' at all. To eliminate potential problems that this may cause, always include compound terms in the glossary, not just base words.

  5. Too many decision makers permitted to add/remove terms from a glossary
    If you don't assign a single person in charge of adding/removing terms from a glossary, you will often end up with situations when Subject Matter Experts' choices on terminology entries contradict each other. This becomes a roadblock if different SMEs have different opinions.

    All too often in such cases, the right to make decisions is transferred to a person who has capacity only at a specific period of time, but is unaware of other SME's work. The result is corruption of glossaries, inconsistent translations and communication problems.

    Avoid that by setting up a review process that keeps differences of opinion between SME's and in-house reviewers to a minimum. The most effective approach is to assign a single person as a decision maker, who should also coordinate all review work and be in charge of reaching a consensus.

  6. Inconsistent use of product names vs. feature names
    For example, an unmanaged glossary can have the terms: a. "Quarantine Manager" as a product name (a non-translatable term)
    b. "Quarantine Manager" as a feature name (ex.: your computer's quarantine manager - translatable)

    If such terms are unmanaged, they cause confusion and make it difficult to use a glossary for automatic consistency checks.

In closing
Whenever you create your glossary, keep track of the above six DON'Ts. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your glossaries will become powerful supporting tools that reduce your overall time and effort spent on adapting your content.

Last tip
If you feel overwhelmed by creation of a glossary, there are many Terminology Management tools available on market that make terminology and glossary management easy. However, popular industry tools need to be customized to fit your specific needs.

To that end, make sure you collaborate with your Language Service Provider and openly discuss your terminology effort. It is an industry standard that LSPs are expected to take on creation and extraction of the source glossary. You can shift that responsibility onto them, leaving you to focus on end results.

(...end of part 2/2)

In the next issue, we will publish a review of:
Best Practices When Localizing Mobile Apps.

In the meantime, to learn more about managing your translation processes, visit our website.
To find a copy of this, or previous articles, visit our downloads section.



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Contact: Gerry Lynch

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Contact: Wiola Aniol

18 - 19 Nov. DITA
Munich, Germany
Contact: Wiola Aniol

Please click on our contacts to arrange a meeting, or contact us at: info@argostranslations.com

Terminology Management Tools

To effectively manage your Terminology, consider using tools and software created specifically to automate such tasks.

There are various Terminology Management tools on market, each with slightly different features targeted at different types of industries and their needs.

Choose one that fits your environment and gives you the option to customize it to your requirements. Consider an option that allows you to manage multiple users and control their access rights. Above all, a proper tool should let you automate the task of updating your terminology database.

Regardless of which Terminology Management tool you choose, it will make handling, updating, managing and controlling your terminology a lot easier.


  • Best Practice: Mobile Apps Localization

  • DTP focus: Designing Brochures for Localization


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