Terminology Talk with Gabriele Sauberer, Director–International Network for Terminology (TermNet)

sauberer_300x171A pioneer in the field of professional preparation and management of EU funded projects, she successfully manages the International Network for Terminology since 2002. For the European Commission she acted as consultant to European eContent and 6th Framework Programmes and for the Austrian Standards Institute she is active in several committees as expert in terminology, translation and diversity management. She designed and performed many projects at European, regional, national and international level and developed trainings and seminars with focus on European and International topics. From 2007 to 2010, she was teaching project management, intercultural communication and diversity management at the Centre for Translation Studies of the University of Vienna. Certified quality auditor, EN 15038 lead auditor and expert in several standardization committees, such as Terminology, Translation, Human Resources, Diversity management, Corporate Social Responsibility.

  1. First of all, thank you for accepting this interview. As you know, I started this blog as my final project to obtain the ECQA’s Basic Terminology Manager’s certification by TermNet. I know that maybe for you and your team this was an unusual project, but I am happy to report that it has been receiving a lot of attention since its creation. After writing and reading about terminology, I realize now that, being a young discipline, terminology seems still to be the Cinderella of language specializations. It seems to me that even translators themselves are sometimes unaware of the importance of getting training in terminology management. This to me is bad news and good news, because it means there’s unexplored territory, and institutions like TermNet are relevant now more than ever. Would you agree?

I couldn´t agree more with you – except that you consider terminology as a young discipline. In fact, it is as old as knowledge itself: Have a look at the TermNet website, there´s a nice quotation from Confucius describing the essence of terminology valid until today. However, you are right, of course, that the awareness of the importance of terminology work and management is still to be improved. In particular, future translators and interpreters still don´t get enough terminology training during their university education. After university, they face a competitive professional world where only specialized skills such as project management or terminology management skills for highly specialized texts pay off. Then they have to learn it the hard way – or get trained by ECQA Certified Training Organisations. I like your formulation “Cinderella of language specializations“, that´s very nice and very true. It has become a female business and we still need to empower all these women world-wide, working as translators in a much too modest and often unprofessional way. The more they improve their terminology and their management skills, the better fees and working conditions they´ll get. We are glad to support strong networks and communities of translators committed to professional terminology work and management.

  1. One of the topics that I started to develop in my blog was project management as it relates to terminology. And this is thanks to your recommendation to take an open course on project management. I have to say it was a great idea. After taking en ECQA course and then the PM course I had so many Aha! moments. I was able to make the connection between the two. What has really inspired me to pursue terminology was the fact that you are not a terminologist nor a translator, but a project manager. Although I do have a translation background, I am sure there are people who think that they have to be experts to be in this field. What would you say to them?

Oh, that´s great to hear, I am so happy that I could inspire you to take a course in Project Management! Let me share my experience with you: In many large companies where translators are hired for the translation or after sales departments, they never ever translate a single word but only do project management from the first day of their employment. But they are not prepared to do that, since they don´t get enough if any project management training during their university education. That was the reason why in Vienna we introduced project management as obligatory subject for the new bachelor curricula at the Centre for Translation Studies. So, I would say: You don´t need to be a translator or a terminologist to do terminology work, not at all. You need to have terminology skills and management skills, with a focus on project management.

  1. I understand there is a plan to start TermNet in Canada soon. How is that project progressing? I would certainly love to go to their first Summer School!

Well, there was actually a Terminology Spring School already a couple of years ago in Ottawa organised by TermNet – and there will be definitely a lot of terminology events and trainings in Canada in the years to come. Last year, TermNet established “TermNet Americas”, a company headquartered in Montreal and registered also in Toronto, which acts as Center of Excellence for terminology trainings and services in the North and Latin American Markets. We should not forget that our colleagues in South and Latin America feel a bit isolated in times when travel budgets are cut down and people don´t have the resources to come to Europe to attend trainings and conferences. Thus, the Canadian Branch of TermNet is a good opportunity to do networking with the people of The Americas. Right now, we do capacity building in the form of train-the-trainer courses to create a sufficient pool of experts, trainers and partners of TermNet Americas.

  1. For those of my readers who might be interested in taking the ECQA course, could you explain what the Basic course offers? Are there any changes being made to the current program?

We are continuously and systematically improving and updating the training material in our ECQA Job Role Committees for the basic and advanced courses. This year, the basic course has been simplified when we launched the advanced one in July 2014. It turned out that there was a bit too much advanced stuff in the basic training. The basic course now offers a broad and general training for those people who don´t necessarily have a background in linguistics or translation, but need to manage terminology in their daily job as information, communication or IT professionals. They often had to learn it the hard way how to cope with terminology issues – and enjoy the framework of theory and practice offered in our basic training. In the basic course, we want to make sure that all relevant issues of practical terminology management are covered: from short theoretical backgrounds to essential skills and competences needed to professionally implement terminology management including project management, cost and return on investment calculation, business and team work issues – to standards and legal requirements for those who work with terminology. The most important unit always is the practical one, where trainees need to show ECQA Certified Trainers, that they really understood the factual, theoretical knowledge and can apply it in real life, in their own terminology project.

  1. What about the Advanced course? For those of us who are waiting to sign up, what are the new areas that will be covered and who will be the guest speakers?

The target groups of the advanced course are senior terminology workers and managers. They need more specific skills, with focus on terminology tools and more sophisticated applications of terminology, such as ontologies or data exchange formats. It´s getting more towards techies needs here. In the basic course, there is no special unit about tools and technology, in the advanced course there is Unit 2 with 3 advanced learning elements: 1) How to select a Terminology Management System, 2) Terminology extraction (methods and tools) and 3) Terminology Management Systems and interfaces. All other units have the same titles as in the basic course – but the contents are, of course, all more advanced. But it´s still a general terminology training, only at advanced level. Current Guest speakers are mainly experts from tool providers or university research. All regular trainers are, as usual, ECQA Certified outstanding terminology experts. For details please refer to the TermNet website: http://www.termnet.org/english/products_service/ecqa_ctm/about_ecqa_ctm-advanced.php

  1. Lastly, I would like to know what your projects are for the next year, besides TermNet. Are there any special events that we should look forward to?

TermNet and its members and partners world-wide are and will be working on specialised ECQA Terminology courses, for the automotive industry, for health terminology, for translators and interpreters, etc. This obviously is very much needed and TermNet has been encouraged to develop specialised trainings for various target groups. This is an ongoing and future activity which I look very much forward to, and where we certainly launch a serious of events and trainings in the years to come. Besides TermNet, terminology and the language industry, half of my heart and my brain belong to Diversity Management and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). So if you are interested in human diversity at the work place or social responsibility issues, you definitely can look forward to events and trainings in these fields. Within the ideal framework of ECQA, we developed an ECQA Certified Diversity Manager Certificate and Training, as well as an ECQA Certified Applied Sustainability and CSR Professional (http://ecqa.org/index.php?id=10).

  1. If you’d like to give some final remarks about any topic that is not covered in the questions above, please feel free to add them here. Thanks!

I just would like to remind us all that working in the area of language, terminology, translation, interpretation, communication or information is FUN – and that we shall never forget to DO WHAT WE LOVE AND LOVE WHAT WE DO. Thank you so much for your questions and commitment to terminology!

Some articles for further reading by Gabriele:

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