When you enlist an LSP to do a translation you often focus on how the cost fits into your budget and whether it will be completed by the time you need it. You also expect the result to be high quality, with the greatest possible accuracy. However, while you may not have considered Terminology Management as the first step in great translation, effective Terminology Management affects all three of these issues – cost, timely completion, and quality.
Terminology Management is a preparatory process done before translation begins. Basically all specialized terms important to your enterprise are identified, tagged, defined, and organized for easy reference by everyone working on the translation project. Along with format and definition, the translators and Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) preparing Terminology Management will also list the correlating target language term that is to be used for this specific document (as well as others for the same enterprise). Terminology Management works in conjunction with a translator using translation software assistance.
If you have worked with translators before and know something about the process you know that there are lots of decisions every translator must make as they work through a document. You could say that’s what translation is: a flow of decision-making about expression and language, including decisions like which target language words are the best to use, which format it should be in, and which words should not be translated at all but left in their original form (such as acronyms, brand names, etc.). Any reference aid prepared in advance that can answer these questions saves a lot of time and promotes consistency in the final document. Delays caused by the need for translators to check their decisions with the client or with their colleagues are eliminated by answering all terminology questions ahead of time. Furthermore, when a Terminology Management system is in place based on a company’s documents, future projects for that company are also more cost-efficient and accurate.
After your translator has entered the relevant data into the database for your project, the software searches for “translation memory” segments to match segments in the source-language document that need to be translated:
- A 100% Match is when two phrases are identical.
- A result that is less than 100% the same but more than about 50% or 60% (the threshold is set by the software user) is a Fuzzy Match.
- If a match is 100% the same and also occurs after the same segment as the one in the translation memory, it is called a Context Match.
- A Perfect Match is one in which the phrase matches precisely and the segments on both sides of it are also exactly the same as the translation memory.
- When the TM offers up a phrase that perhaps has only one or two words in common this is called No Match.
A Language Service Provider like Skrivanek has tools and processes to facilitate the extraction of terms from your documents that need to be defined and organized in a Terminology Management system to answer your translator’s questions. It can feel like this is just an added step you don’t have time for, but organizing all of your field-specific and company-specific terminology and preparing it to help your translator complete smooth translation isn’t just busy work – it’s a sophisticated step in translation that’s driven by foresight. Terminology Management prepared in advance results in streamlined translation, cost savings, and the reduction of costly errors. Ask your LSP representative or Project Manager how you can employ Terminology Management if you are not already, and how you can work together to maximize its benefits.
J. V. McShulskis