Choosing The Right Terminology Sources

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How to make mining for proper terminology more productive and how to choose the right terminology sources for your translation projects?

This blog post’s goal is not the discussion about finding the information itself, but rather deciding which source of information to trust in the era of the info– flood we are subjected to every day. Let’s dive in!

 #1. Why should you trust one terminology source, but distrust another?

First of all, you need to find a source written or managed by experts, and you want it to be relevant to the content being translated (field, time period, etc.). A lot of people start off with easily accessible sources of information, such as Wikipedia since there are articles on almost anything, and you can use the information from these articles to either find sources (bibliography) or to guide your online search in the right direction. However, don’t just copy-paste from Wikipedia without fact-checking.

Always look for sources that you know you can trust. A lot of translators also have actual hard-copy terminology sources (e.g. dictionary of legal terms, etc.) which they consult to make sure the source is published by a trustworthy author and publishing house.

For example, if you are translating car parts, the official car parts catalog issued by the manufacturer, or the manufacturer’s competitor, is obviously a great source of terminology. A list of terms found on a car enthusiast’s blog might not be the best idea, although it can be a great starting point if you find more reputable sources for the terminology. Most of this is common sense, but people sometimes need a reality check.

 #2. How to verify terminology sources?

Assuming that you had a critical approach in your quest for terminology sources, you are already half-way there. What we usually recommend to translators is checking the terminology with other people.

By doing this, we don’t necessarily mean checking the terminology with other translators, although this can also be useful. What we really mean is checking the terminology with the project manager, or even the client.

Many people working on translations have two issues:

  • If I ask about terminology sources, people will think I am not an expert
  • I don’t want, or I don’t have the time, to bother people with questions, and to wait for answers

Both are somewhat valid, but none of these arguments is beneficial to any of the participants in the translation process. Nowadays, you can leave a comment in the segment you are working on, and this comment will be checked by the project manager (in Text United’s case also very often the client as well), and you will receive an answer to your comment quickly.

Each project also has a dedicated glossary which you can check and research before diving into the project. The translator, proof-reader, project manager, and client can even cooperate and comment within the glossary, so this can save you additional time. We love transparency in projects, as it makes everyone’s lives just so much easier.

Clients understand that company-specific terminology should be always double-checked and they value translators who actually want to deliver the best translation possible.

#3. Where do we go from here?

Double-checking terminology sources is a must, especially today. If we were to summarize all of the above in a couple of sentences, it would look like this:

  • Check if the client has any preferred terminology
  • Check any relevant terminology sources you have at hand (online and hard-copy)
  • Double-check the trustworthiness of your sources
  • Enter the terminology to the project’s glossary
  • Communicate with other people working on the project (proof-reader, client)
  • If the terminology is approved, there is no more second-guessing

The truth is, it sounds more complicated than it actually is. If you want to talk about this approach, or if you have different views, you can always reach out to us. As always, there are no strings attached, and we would love to share experiences with you!

Gosia
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Gosia loves copywriting and product translation. Additionally, she's a content marketing and lolcats junkie.

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