in Translation

Welcome back for Issue Nine of Your Own Terms, the biweekly comic about Sir Terminus: Crusader of Logic, Manly Valor, and Multilingual Terminology Management. Today – Coming to Terms with Full-body Scanners!

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Multilingual Terminology Management - Full Body Scanners

More on Terminology Management:

When talking about terminology management, a lot of emphasis is placed on managing terms in a multilingual context. While this is an important step in ensuring quality translations and consistent branding abroad, people tend to overlook the fact that terminology management is most efficacious when applied as a preventive measure early on in the source-authoring stage of a product’s development cycle.

In a single organization, many departments contribute to the different forms of written communication that accompany a product. Regardless of the type of product, it’s not uncommon to have anywhere from four to ten operative groups from different offices around the world writing content simultaneously. Without a glossary in place to guide the development of this content, you run the risk of different terms being applied to the same concept.

Now, to most people, this doesn’t really sound like a big deal. But consider this: Your organization develops an electronic device with a brand new, never-before-seen function. Your hardware engineers decide to use Term A to refer to this function on the device’s LCD screen, whereas your software engineers use Term B to label this function in related software UI strings. At the same time, your technical writers, who are working on writing the Help menus, user manuals, and training documents, etc., use Term C to refer to the same function. And then your marketing team uses Term D to, yet again, refer to the exact same concept.

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What’s your customer going to think when he buys the device on account of Term D, but then has a problem with Term A on the device itself, because it doesn’t match Term B in the accompanying software, so he looks in the Help menu only to find that Term A and B are alternately referred to as Term C? He’s going to throw your product out the window and pray that someone drives over it with their car.

Yes, mixing up your terminology is that confusing to the end-user. And yes, this type of inconsistency affects the quality of your branding and adds significant costs in terms of post-sales support, re-printing, levied fines for refused shipments, and the list goes on.

So be sure and manage your terms from the source, folks—and do it early on in the product development cycle, ideally before source-authoring even begins. It’ll save you a lot of hassle, a lot of time, and a lot of money in the long run, especially when you decide to localize your content into several dozen languages.

If you’re interested in reading more about the benefits of terminology management, check out this article that details 10 Good Reasons to Manage Your Terminology. Alternatively, check out TermWiki.com, where you can sign up for a free account and start managing your multilingual glossaries right away.

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