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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Whaddya Call It? All-a-do-about terminology management

"While using multiple terms to describe one thing is common, doing so can lead to product confusion and even compliance issues in the business world. Why you should be worried about terminology management."
By Donald DePalma

"...That’s not to say that big companies don’t worry about terminology. IBM has long employed a terminologist who works with a variety of teams for consistent product representation. The terminologist on staff at medical device manufacturer Medtronic gets involved at the earliest stages of a project, working with the development team to formalize the words used to describe the product they will build. And faced with a proliferation of terms due to mergers and acquisitions, companies like Cisco are actively reviewing their own terminology management futures. Companies such as Oracle, PTC, and Nokia also employ full-time terminologists.

Let’s complicate matters a bit more. Take terminology management one step further, beyond the simple transformations of product documentation in a single market, to a product that is sold in 10 other countries that speak different languages. Those 120 terms that refer to a single product now have the potential of becoming 1,200 terms once translated into those 10 languages. And each one of those translated terms will trickle through the documentation, online help, marketing, advertising, and other collateral information in each of those languages. These downstream uses all lead to the possibility of far more interpretations as creative writers, translators, and transcreators elsewhere in the supply and demand chains for that product.

The bottom line is that formal terminology management benefits companies both within a country and across its global business units. Harvesting, normalizing, and integrating your company and industry terminology into authoring and translation systems will allow you to save money on re-purposed content and translation, improve quality, and increase efficiency. At the same time, more consistent terminology can help you improve safety, compliance, and customer service..."s Read the full article

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