The importance of cleansing terminology

The importance of cleansing terminology

Terminology management is a never ending process. But why? The reason is simple: Terminology, corporate language and specific technical terms change over time. Therefore, one must constantly maintain, update and clean terminological data.

In our blog series, we address this topic: How to incorporate individual terminology processes into a smooth workflow. In today’s blog post, we focus on the importance of terminology cleansing for coordinated, coherent terminology workflows.

What means terminology cleansing exactly?

Above all, terminology management is about defining consistent, unambiguous and validated terminology for use throughout the company. However, it also encloses defining prohibited terminology (see people text 2020). And that’s exactly where terminology cleansing as part of terminology maintenance comes into play. It ensures that terminology databases are free of duplicates, obsolete or incorrect terminology. As a result, the correct use of terminology is guaranteed at all times.

One thing is clear: once a terminology database has been created, it is not set in stone: New terminology needs to be added or already existing terminology amended. This is due to the fact that terminology processes include exchange and coordination processes. These allow all people involved in the terminology process to share information and discuss the use of terminology.

At what point should terminology cleansing take place?

Through the possibility of exchange and coordination, situations arise throughout the terminology process that make terminology cleansing necessary. To name a few:

  1. Users or other employees suggest new terms or concepts
  2. Changes in already existing entries are agreed upon via coordination processes
  3. Usage status of already defined terms has changed
  4. Someone wants to add a translation to an already existing entry

Likewise, you can also discover entries whose preferred terms are to be considered synonyms. An example for this is “first aid kit” and ” first aid bag”. They both refer to the same concept and should be part of the same entry. If something like this is discovered, a correction should be made via terminology cleansing.

Such and other cases can always occur from time to time. And this is how it should be, as only harmonized and updated terminology is accepted and used in the end.

Why? Consistency!

Terminology management and hence terminology cleansing is an ongoing process. But what exactly are the benefits of regularly performed terminology cleansing? Mainly consistency!

Consistent and accurate terminology prevents misunderstandings, reduces translation costs and can help avoid the occurrence of legal problems. Additionally, consistency in internal communication as well as regarding the public image are also positive side effects (see people text 2020).

Consistent and cleansed terminology is especially important when different departments in a company use the same technical terminology. For example, product design, development, technical documentation, translation, sales, marketing, and last but not least the customers themselves. All these people and departments require good quality, consistent terminology and depend on regular cleansing of the terminology databases. It’s the only way they can make good use of the company terminology – for better quality documents and for the benefit of all.

But how to do this?

It’s an old saying that all roads lead to Rome. The same can be said for terminology cleansing.

Some clients outsource the process of terminology cleansing to experts (like us :-)). Others integrate it internally as part of a workflow in day-to-day operations. Some need terminology cleansing once a month, others every week, then again only twice a year. It all very much depends on the clients requirements, the kind (and quantity) of internal resources available etc. Oftentimes a process design is needed beforehand, this can be done internally or externally by terminology process experts (again, like us :-)).

Each and every company need to define their own terminology workflow(s) as well as corresponding process(es) for terminology cleansing and adapt them to their own requirements.

How do you integrate terminology cleansing into your processes?

Is terminology cleansing already part of your business? Would you like to know more about what is possible for your company terminology-wise? If so, please contact our terminology experts! We offer consulting services for designing the entire workflow and optimization for all terminology steps and process levels.


Image: Photo by César Couto on Unsplash

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