Having a dejà vu or are you seeing double? Dealing with doublettes

many fingers seen on single hand isolated on whiteWhile I was writing this blog post, my friend and subscriber, Simona Tigris (and PhD in Philology), reminded me about homophones in a comment on my post on synonymy and polysemy. I couldn’t agree more with her. I had thought about writing a separate blog post, but when we talk about doublettes, one of the main causes seems to be the mishandling of homophones. So, after reading this blog post, I also recommend you take some time to read the links below.

Doublettes (the technical terms for duplicate entries) are quite common unless you have an elephant’s memory. During a recent webinar, terminologist Barbara Inge Karsh mentioned that between 5%-10% of entries need adjusting during maintenance. In order to keep that percentage at a minimum, we should try to do an efficient job in the early stages of term entry creation by following terminological principles.

During terminology work we try to achieve univocity (one term, one concept) However, sometimes it’s not as easy as we think it is. Even if we follow terminology rules (no plurals, checking terms in upper/lower case, verbs in simple form, etc.), we won’t be able to remember each and every record what we have created.

So what do we do? Best to hear the advice from the expert. Barbara provides a few recommendations in one of her blog posts:

  1. “Start out by specifying the subject field in your database. It will help you narrow down the concept for which you are about to create an entry. You might do a search on the subject field and see what concepts you defined at an earlier time. Sometimes that helps trigger your memory.
  2. As you are narrowing down the subject field and take a quick glance through some of the existing definitions, you might identify and recognize an existing concept as the one you are about to work on.
  3. Export your database into a spreadsheet program and do a quick QA on your entries. In a spreadsheet, such as Excel, you can sort each column. If there are true doublettes, you might have started the definition with the same superordinate, which, if you sort the entries, get lined up next to each other.
  4. Maybe you don’t have time for QA, then I would simply wait until you notice while you are using your database and take care of it then. The damage in databases with lots of languages attached to a source language entry is bigger, but there are usually also more people working in the system, so errors are identified quickly. For the freelance translator, a doublette here and there is not as costly and it is also eliminated quickly once identified.”

In one of the comments in her blog post there is also an additional suggestion: When dealing with a large amount of entries, discuss possible nuances in definitions and terms with subject-matter experts.

I recommend reading her posts related to this topic:

  1. Doublettes, such a pretty term, yet such a bad word, which provides more information, particular on dealing with homonyms and homographs.
  2. How do I identify a term—confusability. How to deal with homographs
  3. Avoiding doublettes or a report from the ISO meetings in Korea
  4. Why doublettes are bad

Also, Rafael Guzman’s T-Manager (read my blog post about it here) is a tool that allows you to analyze Excel files before importing to a termbase and flags and deletes duplicates in a glossary. But if you are entering your terms directly to your termbase, better follow Barbara’s advice.



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