Technical translations

The Role of Terminology Management in Technical Translations

Have you ever tried to read a manual for a microwave or even the instructions for the thermostat in your home (I’m speaking from personal experience on that one) and found that, although it definitely looks like English, you don’t understand a single word it says?

It’s safe to say that some areas of translation are more difficult than others. At Linguistica International, sometimes we are asked to translate documents in fields such as medicine, law and manufacturing that are highly technical in nature. These technical translations can include a significant amount of industry-specific terminology that the average native speaker on the street would simply not understand.

The role of terminology management

Industry-specific terminology, whether it’s medical, legal or technical in nature, needs to be managed properly. In this type of project, pinning down the terminology that will be used and making sure it’s translated accurately and consistently every time is a major consideration.

To do this, the translation team will put a terminology management system in place. Although the exact system tends to differ from one translator to another, a database or glossary of terms will be created to guide the translators. This can then be built on during further projects for the same client or when completing translations for firms in the same sector.

Having a terminology management system for technical translations is also essential if there are multiple translators working on the same project. It’s not uncommon to use teams of translators to speed up larger projects, but that increases the risk of inconsistencies, which is why it’s so important to create a terminology management system that can be used by the entire team.

The importance of client involvement

Creating a terminology management system should ideally be a two-way process. It’s beneficial for the translation team if they are able to work with the client to reach an agreement about the best terms to use. It’s also valuable for translators to receive guidance about whether abbreviations are suitable or if less technical equivalents can be used to make the document more accessible to a wider group of people.

In most projects, the client’s involvement can be minimal. Simply authorising a glossary of terms can be enough. However, in other cases, a more rigorous approach may be necessary. Translators may need help understanding how certain terms relate to one another and which terms are trademarks, product names or brand names that must remain in the same form in international markets.

What does a terminology management system look like?

Creating a terminology management system for a translation project can be as simple as building a glossary of terms. It does not have to be a drawn-out task that adds to the cost of your translation project. In fact, creating a terminology management system before the translation begins will save you money, allowing the translation team to work more quickly and reducing the requirement for time-consuming edits.

For other projects, it may be necessary to put a more comprehensive system in place. This might include information such as cultural notes that are relevant to the target audience, details of when and how terms should be capitalised and abbreviated and even examples of how they should be used in textual context.

Expert assistance with your technical translations

At Linguistica International, each of our technical translators has professional experience in the industries they translate for. We also create a glossary of terms to make sure every technical translation project is completed accurately and consistently in more than 200 languages.

To discuss your project, please call 02392 987 765 or email today.