Wise Words: Insights from successful terminologists (Part I)

terminology passion 1You probably already know TermCoord’s “Why is Terminology Your Passion”, a collection of interviews of terminologists who talk about their experience with Terminology and terminology management. So here are a few quotes taken from the first collection. Of course, my advice is that you read all the interviews. Read Part II here.

  1. An excessive “technologisation” [ ] can cause us to forget the theoretical and methodological basis of terminology and concentrate exclusively on the technical aspects of terminological tools and applications… It’s important that the translator not only uses [ ] tools, but is also familiar with the basic principles of terminology and applies them to translation work.” Lucía Candelaria Mesa Socas
  2. Terminology is the spine of a document during its life cycle and in professional communication in general. Furthermore, terminology is of vital importance for brand consistency and customer satisfaction in business. According to recent surveys, terminology inconsistency is the main challenge in the translation and localization industry, and translation and terminology project managers should pay attention to this at the very first stage of a document life cycle.” Tatiana Gornostay
  3. “…in order to become a reliable terminologist, a person mainly should love knowledge and terminology as well as have a proficient knowledge of languages. She/he will have to study a specific subject field and become a specialist in it. They should study both the theory and application of terminology and all relevant ISO/TC 37 standards… He/she should digest terminological concepts and methods. Being a confident user of computer programs and other applications used in terminology today (word processing programs, terminological databases, etc.) is another requisite”. Kostas Valeontis
  4. Apart from having advanced linguistic and textual competences, a terminologist must know how to manage terminology: how to search and collect terms, how to store and retrieve them, how to manage monolingual and multilingual terminology and terminology projects. Moreover, a terminologist must know terminology strategies for business processes, if he/she works in companies which require translation, and be conscious of the relevance of terminological choices in institutional communication as well as in marketing needsMaria Teresa Zanola
  5. Terminology work reveals a lot of positive effects for terminology management. A few examples: fewer errors in communication, cost reductions and time savings, better communication (availability of reference points, fewer debates and misunderstandings, better definitions), higher quality in authoring of the source text, fewer queries, improved quality, positive effects on translation, easier classification and better workflow in documentation procedures (retrievability and reusability).” Frieda Steurs
  6. Terminology management is part of a knowledge sharing workflow that helps achieve higher standardization and better quality, not only in translation but also in the source language, for example in the authoring of documentation.” “Technology has already changed translation and terminology management considerably, and it can only get better. Just to mention one example, further developments in corpus linguistics and related tools will have a great impact also on the work of individual terminologists and translators. Needless to say, getting the best out of tools will always rely on an adequate understanding of terminology management and of any related workflow, a further reason for promoting better terminology awareness.” Licia Corbolante
  7. Advice for aspiring terminology managers: “be flexible; be open to innovation (tools, methods, data, etc.); network with others in the same profession as well as with others in your professional environments (incl. the social web); develop your personal professional profile, often in combination with other specialised domain-specific or generic skills and make it visible to the world; stay in touch with universities and research activities.” Gerard Budin
  8. But to become a good terminologist, one has to work very hard, have an organised mind, worship the power of words, never give up until one finds answers, be blessed with a mountain of patience and creative ideas, be an excellent communicator and have the wish and will to learn all one’s life. A translator becomes aware of the importance of terminology work and management only by translating lots of challenging documents from various subject fields. Invariably, the first impression seems to be: ‘Why should I “waste” my time and complicate my life with all this terminology stuff?’ Once you try to go through all the steps of managing your translation work as a project, including the terminology component becomes a natural must. Professional translators nowadays realise they can only get jobs and stay on the market if they deliver high quality services.” Giorgeta Ciubanu.
  9. One of the hardest things about terminology work is how little translators know about terminology. Even CAT tool developers are relatively uninformed as to the interaction between their software and its applications to the real job of translating. From the user’s perspective, translating is hard enough as it is without having to constantly hack your tools to try and get them to do what you want. Another thing that puzzles me is how many translators aren’t even aware of the fact that there are a number of very good dictionaries (both print and online) that would greatly assist them in their daily work. I feel strongly that investing a bit of time and money in learning about these possibilities pays dividends, but there is still a lot of educative work to be done in order to encourage people to take advantage of them.” Michael Beijer
  10. Even if translators are very often under time pressure, they should do terminology work following the concept-oriented approach. Otherwise the terminological data will be unsystematic and therefore unusable over time. Concept orientation does not mean that translators have to elaborate concept systems and have to supply every terminological entry with a definition; it requires (only) that all terminological information belonging to one concept should also be managed in one terminological entry. Synonyms should be stored in the same entry, homonyms in different entries.” Klaus-Dirk Schmitz

In my next post I will share a few more useful insights from the second collection of interviews. Stay tuned!

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