The Impact of Terminology Management on Translation Quality

I think I may have mentioned before that I started my professional life as a translator. I had a few freelance translation assignments before joining Trados in 1994 as their first dedicated training and support engineer. Having been in the translation industry for such a long time, I was eagerly awaiting the results from the SDL Translation Technology Insights (TTI) survey. And I wasn’t disappointed! The study identified five key key insight themes and quite a few surprises but the one that emerged as the most important was the theme of translation quality.

Interestingly, the results didn’t just indicate a focus on quality, but also outlined some of the challenges the industry is facing. The survey results revealed that one of the top challenges in maintaining levels of quality is terminology. The respondents told us that for those of them that face rework, ‘Inconsistencies in the use of terminology‘ emerged as the top cause, chosen by 48% of the respondents.

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With this in mind, I wanted to reach out to one of our best customers, Semantix, the Nordic region’s largest interpretation and translation company, to find out how they reduce or even avoid rework. Here is what Christophe Eyraud, Translation Solutions Expert had to say about terminology inconsistencies:

“Yes, rework is at best an irritation and at worst a problem but there are ways to avoid it.

At the translation buyer level:

  • Does the client hold formal terminology databases and have they shared them with their LSP?
  • Has the termbase been supplemented with helpful material? (I have seen many termbases with synonyms but no notes or statuses e.g. approved, rejected, preferred)

At the LSP level:

  • Has the client’s terminology list been converted into a termbase that can be shared or used in a project?
  • If there is a termbase for the client, has it been added to the project?
  • Are the terminology verification settings correctly set?
  • Has the project manager run the terminology verification?

At the translator level:

  • Has the translator checked that that he or she can see the status and other term related metadata within SDL Trados Studio?
  • Has the translator run the verify commands, such as the QA Checker, terminology, tag and XML verifiers, to check translated text for errors and inconsistencies?

In the end, if the wrong term is used or if terms are used inconsistently, the reason is most probably to be found above. And for all the rework questions at an LSP or translator level, there is always a technology solution.

We can go even further:

For instance, how do you handle customers who constantly add new terms or edit existing terms to their terminology material? How do you make these terms readily available to the translator?

Or what if the translator adds terms while translating source files, how do you make these terms available for the customer to validate them?

Again, I find there are technological solutions to answer these questions too.

For me, the real challenge is as follows – technology is used by humans, and the challenge is not to master the technology, but to convince humans to embrace the technology. This requires a commitment to education and training. Implementing any new technology means changing existing processes and we all know people can be resistant to change!"

The importance of Terminology Management

Christophe has provided an expert view on how to avoid rework by accepting that terminology is a key element of quality and he refers to technology solutions being able to help. Many translators attempt to track terms without formal terminology management, instead they use a word list, glossary or tab-based spreadsheet.

Unfortunately, these solutions, while providing a low entry barrier to terminology work, are just not good enough to provide the levels of quality now expected. A terminology management system must provide four main functions:

  1. The ability to handle multiple languages
  2. Be concept-oriented and provide the ability to store any amount of synonyms for each concept
  3. Be scalable to support distributed teams
  4. Be capable of integrating into translation workflows.

By managing, centralizing and making terms and associated metadata accessible to everyone involved in creating and translating content, rework decreases as terminology inconsistencies are eliminated and the translation is more accurate and of higher quality. Centralized terminology management also enables consistency of branding and messaging, both locally and globally, which I believe ultimately creates better customer advocacy across all markets.

To discover more results about translation quality, download the eBook>>