Terminology Validation


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Brief discussion of the benefits of having translated terminology validated by a subject matter expert; includes references and resources.

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Terminology Validation

  1. 1. strategy Ten good reasons why you should validate your translated terminology Recent survey results suggest that more and more practitioners in the field of technical communication understand the benefits of maintaining client- or project-specific termbases. However, based on anecdotal evidence, it seems as if very few organizations cur- rently have processes for validating translated terminology, i.e., employing subject-matter experts to check the suitability of those translated terms on the client side. This article outlines some of the major benefits of terminology validation, the most noteworthy of which is shorter time-to-market as a result of a more streamlined translation process.Photo: Albert Lozano 16 july 2011
  2. 2. strategyBy Uwe Mueggeunderstanding that Enabling translators to tions with mature translation (and terminologytranslated terms are translate with confidence validation) processes find that for many document types in-country review is no longer necessary: Theas important as Many translators are perfectionists: For them, good combination of long-term relationships betweensource-language terms enough is simply not good enough! This type translation buyer and service provider, detailed of translator will question the validity of glossary instructions for translators, availability of language-The names for the products/services an or- terms - regardless of whether or not those terms specific style guides, and, of course, validated ter-ganization offers and the features/functions of were provided by an agency or a fellow translator. minology, reliably produces translated documentsthose offerings typically make up the bulk of Speaking from personal experience as a longtime that do not benefit from an additional QA step.an organization’s termbase. While these items professional translator, I can say that the terms I wasare certainly linguistic assets, they are primarily most suspicious of, were the ones I researched/thought of as core intellectual property, which created myself, being fully aware of my limitations. Avoiding expensive andis why the creation of these terms typicallyinvolves a team of experts from multiple The result: Inconsistent use of glossary terms due to the fact that the translator discovered ‘better’ time-consuming changesdomains such as product management, engi- terms in the process of translation, or an endless late in the processneering, technical communication, marketing number of comments and annotations that explain It is common for in-country reviewers to insist oncommunication, legal, etc. why a glossary term is not the best choice in given reviewing the translated text - and the terminol-However, once a term is available in the source context. ogy included in it - after all other work such aslanguage and the need for translation arises, A glossary that bears the seal of approval by the translation, editing, and DTP is complete, i.e., rightmore often than not, the only expert involved client or a designated representative, on the other before publication. The reason for wanting to viewin the translation of terminology is the transla- hand, should convince even the most discerning a translated document in its final form is, of course,tor. In today’s business environment, most translator that there is no need for discussion or that in-country reviewers wish to check complete-translators are freelancers, who typically work exploration and that the terms in such a validated ness, text placement, formatting, in addition to thefor multiple clients/agencies and by necessity glossary can be used safely. correct and consistent use of terminology.have only a limited understanding of a specific In-country review is typically the stage whereproduct, its competitive situation, etc. This is many, if not most terminology issues arise. How-especially true for new products. Shortening or even elimi- ever, requesting terminology changes (or any otherAfter investing a lot of time and effort in de-veloping terminology in the source language, nating in-country review text change for that matter) just prior to publication means that not only the translated text, but alsowhen organizations completely outsource In-country review of translated documents is the document in its native publishing format (e.g.,the terminology translation process, they currently considered a best practice. The purpose InDesign, FrameMaker, Flash, etc.) will have to beare essentially leaving the development of of this quality assurance step is to make sure that adjusted. The fact that this type of change requirestarget-language terminology to a (typically a given translation meets the requirements of its the involvement of DTP specialists has two seriousanonymous) translator, i.e. someone whose target market. In a scenario where the translation consequences: 1) Terminology changes late in thecredentials and level of subject-matter exper- service provider has implemented a comprehen- process are typically much more expensive thantise may not have been thoroughly assessed sive QA program (using ASTM F2575, SAE J2450, or textual changes that can typically be performed byby the translation buyer. another translation quality standard), incorrect or translators. 2) Making changes late in the processThis practice amounts to letting the key words inconsistent use of terminology is one of the most requires more time because DTP specialists oftenthat in many cases have a major influence on common error types typically found by in-country are not familiar with the target language, and thethe marketability - and usability - of a product reviewers. And it’s not a particularly surprising changes they implement typically need to be re-or service be determined by a person who is occurrence, considering that the terminology used reviewed by a translator.typically neither close to the client company, in the preparation of a translation has not beenlet alone the product. validated, and thus authorized, by the client.Having translated terms validated by a sub- If an in-country subject-matter expert validates Shortening time-to-ject-matter expert, e.g., an in-country technicalor marketing manager (either internal or with terminology before translation, reviewers no longer need to check terminology (terminology verifica- marketa distributor), helps close this gap and ensure tion can actually be performed by automated Many commercial translation projects are tied tothat translated terms are in fact suitable and tools), which should dramatically reduce the time the launch of a product or service on the globalappropriate for the target market. required for in-country review. Some organiza- marketplace. In fact, translation is in the criticaljuly 2011 17
  3. 3. strategy path of most of these launches, which means that preferences to the service provider at the begin- a given product or service can only be introduced ning of a project. Is it an error to call a ‘Flash drive’ internationally once translation is complete. By the a ‘USB stick’? It is certainly a problem if the client’s Definitions same token, any efficiencies gained by streamlin- reviewer expects to see ‘Flash drive’ and the transla- ing translation (for example, by reducing the time tion provider delivers ‘USB stick’. for in-country review) enable the organization to In these situations, heated e-mails and phone calls language Service Provider (lSP) introduce the product or service more quickly. between the two parties are as predictable as type of business that offers linguistic The fact that a given product can generate revenue they are unnecessary. Taking the extra step of not potentially weeks earlier just because a termbase only managing terminology on the service pro- services such as translation, localiza- had been validated before translation began vider’s side but of having those terms validated tion, interpretation should be a powerful motivator for implementing by the client before translation is a highly effective this additional step in the localization workflow. strategy for avoiding those endless and fruitless glossary discussions about perceived terminology errors. collection of words that have special meaning in a project Minimizing overall trans- lation cost Automating the term Yes, adding validation to the terminology develop- validation process word that has a special meaning in a ment process does cost money: You will have to One of the major issues with terminology valida- given subject field identify and train an internal or external subject- tion – as with any kind of client review - is the matter expert (ideally the same person who fact that it’s an external process (from the service termbase reviews translations in a given market), develop and provider’s point of view), and as such is typically database that contains a collection of document standard operating procedures (SOPs), difficult to manage. Even if the LSP is using a trans- words that have special meaning in a modify your terminology management technol- lation management system, more often than not, given subject field ogy infrastructure, and, of course, compensate the routing glossaries for validation require manual validators for their efforts. intervention by the project manager. terminology A number of studies has shown that terminology However, a dedicated, server-based terminol- work typically pays for itself within the first two ogy management system may offer features for collection of words that have special years (see, for example, Böcker, Gust), and this fact automatic notification of assigned terminology meaning in a given subject field holds particularly true if validation is part of the validators, progress tracking, and automatic crea- terminology development cycle. Making client- tion of an audit trail. terminology management validated terminology available to the translation One of the software tools that enables enterprises effort to control the usage of words service provider before translation begins enables to automate large parts of the terminology valida- that have special meaning in a given the LSP to reduce or eliminate in-country review tion process is TermWiki, a web-based tool for col- subject field and possibly other expensive QA steps, which laborative terminology management developed would otherwise be necessary to ensure that the fi- by CSOFT. nal translation product reflects the client’s preferred terminology management system terminology. type of translation software that enables users to efficiently collect, Giving structure to a process, and present terminology Reducing friction process that occurs between lSP and transla- anyway validation If (in-country) client review is part of your transla- process of checking that an entry (or tion buyer tion workflow, you already have a terminol- a part thereof ) complies with certain Any time a reviewer on the client side identifies ogy validation process in place. But correcting established requirements terminology errors in a translation, the translation terminology problems late in the translation cycle service provider’s qualification, processes, and due is inefficient and expensive. Besides, chances diligence are called into question. This is particularly are that at the final review stage, when many wiki true if the LSP is employing a quality metric like SAE people operate in panic mode (OMG, we are type of collaborative software pro- J2450 that rates terminology errors as the worst already late and over budget!), chances are that gram that typically allows web pages type of error a translator can make. the terminology changes the reviewer requires to be created and collaboratively In my experience, many so-called terminology are implemented in the document under review edited errors identified by the client are simply instances but not updated in the glossary. The smart way of of that client not communicating terminological validating terminology is moving that part from18 july 2011
  4. 4. strategythe end to the beginning of the translation cycle With validated glossaries in place, translators national Organization for Standardization, and making sure that all terminology changes are will use the ‘right’ terms (the ones preferred 2009 [cited 7 June 2011].captured and reflected in the corporate termbase. by the client) the first time, ensuring client http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail.Giving translators a client-approved, up-to-date, satisfaction without the need for an emotion- htm?csnumber=38109project-specific termbase ensures that translators ally charged, time-consuming, and expensive • ISO 1087-1:2000 Terminology Work. Vo-use the right term the first time. correction process. cabulary. Part 1: Theory and Application [online]. Genève: International Organiza- tion for Standardization, 2000 [cited 7 Ensuring client satis- References and links June 2011].faction • ASTM. F2575 - 06 Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation [online]. http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_cata- logue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.My definition of terminology, which differs West Conshohocken: American Society htm?csnumber=20057 markedly from relevant ISO standards such as for Testing of Materials, 2006 [cited 7 June • Muegge, Uwe. TermWiki: TerminologyISO 704 and ISO 1087, is this: terminology is 2011]. Management Just Got Easier. tcworldthe set of terms that the client cares about a http://www.astm.org/Standards/F2575. [online]. 2011, March 2011 [cited 7 June lot. Following that definition, using the ‘wrong’ htm 2011].terms in a translation is a major quality issue. • Böcker, Martin. Die Investition in Termi- http://www.tcworld.info/tcworld/con-To make sure that the client sees their pre- nologiemanagement: eine Wirtschaftli- tent-strategies/article/termwiki-terminol-ferred terms in a translation, it is not enough chkeitsbetrachtung für den Maschinen- ogy-management-just-got-easier/to just manage terminology on the LSP side. bau [online]. Stuttgart: tekom, 2010 [cited • SAE. J2450 Translation Quality Metric [on-Without terminology validation early in the 7 June 2011]. line]. Warrendale: Society of Automotive translation cycle, translators (and editors!) http://www.tekom.de/upload/3138/ Engineers, 2005 [cited 7 June 2011]. on the client side may be using the ‘wrong’ TERM1_Boecker.pdf http://standards.sae.org/j2450_200508terms consistently all the way until in-country • Gust, Dieter. Terminologie - (k)eine • SDL. Terminology Survey 2010 [online]. review, at which point terminology changes Kostenfrage? Wirtschaftlichkeit von Ter- Maidenhead: SDL, 2010 [cited 7 June come with a hefty price tag. minologiearbeit. Produkt Global [online]. 2011].Instead of correcting quality into a translated 2007, no. 6 [cited 7 June 2011], pp. 32-34. http://www.sdl.com/en/Images/document late in the translation/product http://www.imittelstand.de/download. rp_SDL%20Terminology%20Survey%20launch process, translation buyers and ven- php?folder=files&file=18893 april%202010_UK_EN_1_tcm16-34256.dors should agree on proactively validating • ISO 704:2009 Terminology Work - Princi- pdfterminology before translation if at all possible. ples and Methods [online]. Genève: Inter- • www.termwiki.com Uwe Muegge is the Director of Medl10N, the life science division of CSOFT. He is a mem- ber of TC37, the committee responsi- ble for terminology standards at ISO, and F43, the committee responsible for translation standards at the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). He also teaches Termi- nology Management at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA. uwe.muegge@medl10n.comTermWiki Professional, an example of a terminology management system that automatically generates www.medl10n.comnotifications for terminology validators.july 2011 19