Compiling terminology in a new field of knowledge

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post titled “Tackling Terminology in a New Field” and while reviewing COTSOES’ Recommendations for Terminology Work, I thought it would be interesting to summarize their recommendations related to the compilation of terminology, particularly when you know that you will be doing a lot of translation in that new field. You will find the details on page 62 (section 5.6) of COTSOE’s document.

Although COTSOES’ recommendations are for large organizations, I think this could easily be transferred to freelancers.

Collecting documentation: Your primary source will be the person who is requesting the job. He/she will probably have texts and documentation in which you can also find other specialized documentation (journals, reports, etc.) This might take up to six months.

Interest specialized bodies: You can identify key players (organizations, individuals) from the documentation collected and they can point to other reliable documentation and, possibly, be interested in collaborating with you.

First compile a monolingual terminology collection: Your area of research probably overlaps with an existing one and, therefore, they might share common terminology that has already been documented. Investigate this common area first.

Let experts check terminology: Always check your terminology with experts to verify facts. They might want to suggest changes or add new information. The final terminology should be given to experts for a last look. When deciding between two or more terms, the majority view should prevail. The preferred term should be chosen, and the other term or terms added as alternatives with an explanatory note.

Add foreign language terminology to the collection: Once the terminology takes root, find foreign partners to find the equivalents in the other languages.

Make terminology accessible: Make sure you disseminate your work widely, whether in printed or electronic form. I would add that you should make full use of social media to get the word out.

Ensure quality: Keep the information updated and factually correct.

Data and database management: I would say this is closely related to the previous one: Keep your termbases updated by removing duplicates, checking entries for errors, adapt information (for example, when there are new spelling rules). This is always challenging and takes time, but all the work that you have done in the collection of the documentation would be lost if you don’t give appropriate maintenance to your termbase.

Do you have another recommendation? Leave a comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.