Everything Everywhere all at Once – blc goes tekom

How do you get from glossaries and processes distributed everywhere to a large terminology database? And how can you ensure "on the fly" that all employees use the new terminology database? Sounds like an unsolvable undertaking? The solution: Slice the elephant!

Step 1: Inventory analysis and prioritization

It should always start with a recording of the current status: Which data is where? Who uses terminology so far? What processes are there to capture and align new terminology? Once an overview has been obtained, it is time to prioritize: Which lists should become the basis for the new terminology database? Should term extraction be performed in addition to this to obtain additional terminology? Who should be involved in the creation of the new terminology database?

Step 2: Set up a data model

The next big task is to define a data model that will serve as a framework for the new terminology database. This requires checking which metadata has been used so far and which are still or additionally required. Similar metadata from existing data can be merged into new fields. At this point, however, it is definitely worth examining which information can be abandoned in order not to unnecessarily inflate the data model.

Step 3: Start data migration

With the coordinated data model, the journey can start: Existing data can be imported into a new terminology database. The origin of the imported terminology is marked in order to facilitate the subsequent merging of the terminology.

Step 4: Merge and clean up terminology

When data is merged, there are usually many duplicates. These can be complete overlaps of the entire concept, but also term overlaps in different concepts. A large number of these duplicates can be automatically detected and also cleaned up. But automation is reaching its limits, especially in the case of partial overlaps of terms and similar terms. Such clarification cases can be marked automatically and lay the basis for subsequent terminology work.

But even beyond the duplication detection, many clean-up potential can be determined automatically: From formal points such as capitalization of terms to standardization of meta-information.

Step 5: Access terminology

In order for the new termbase to be used throughout the company, it is necessary to ensure access. This is best achieved through a web-based terminology system that all employees can access. Roles and rights can be used to restrict access to specific specialist areas. It is also possible to limit which people are allowed to actively participate in terminology work, for example to suggest new terminology or make changes.

Step 6: Workflows for terminology work

A terminology database lives from ongoing maintenance. Only if terminology is regularly reviewed and updated can it be kept up-to-date. It is also essential to define processes for capturing new terminology. This can happen in form of singular term requests in the terminology system or by means of term extraction from source texts. Where possible, new terminology should be reviewed, released and translated into the relevant target languages even before translation.

Some terminology systems offer a workflow concept that can be used to request new terminology or terminology changes, to assign discussion requests to expert groups and approval tasks to decision making groups. In most cases, different workflows can be set up for the different company languages.

Step 7: Ensure the use of terminology

If you put a lot of effort into building and maintaining the terminology database, you also want it to be used. Regular presentations and training are helpful for this. Furthermore, the direct integration of terminology into the authoring systems offers great added value. This enables terminology research directly during writing. A big step further is taken with systems for language quality assurance, which (among other language checks) verify the correct use of terminology.

Conclusion: The journey is worth it!

If you have already arrived at step 7, you have achieved a lot! You have a cross-disciplinary terminology with standardized terms and conce- or at least you are on your way. Uniform terminology eliminates misunderstandings, both within the company and among customers. In addition, the potential for errors in translations is significantly reduced. And last but not least, you shape the corporate identity!

We will be happy to help you slice your terminology elephant!

You could not see my presentation at the tekomannual conference 2023? From November 27th you can see the recording of my lecture in the Tagungstool: "Terminology Process Makeover: Everything Everywhere all at Once". If you have any questions, I will of course be at your side.

We have something else for you:

On 14/15 March 2024, Terminologie³ 2024 will take place once again at the Novotel in Karlsruhe. An event where terminology enthusiasts, whether beginners or full professionals, will get their terminological money’s worth. Early bird prices are also available until 10 January 2024 😉

Bildquelle: Brett Jordan auf Unsplash
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