What is Terminology Management and Why is it Important?

What is Terminology Management and Why is it Important?

So, let’s start by understanding what terminology means:

According to Sager, Terminology is a polysemic word that can refer to:

  • a collection of terms;
  • an activity;
  • a theory, i.e. the set of premises, arguments and conclusions required for explaining the connection between concepts and terms (1990, 3).

However, the question is: “why is Terminology so important?” It is essential when several teams work in the same translation/localization project and quality is a sine qua non.

It is clear that not everybody is a specialist and handles the terminology of a subject field, product or client. Therefore, having and managing a centralized repository of terms is essential, where new terminology is added in order to increase quality and productivity.

There are negative consequences if terminology is not used consistently:

  • Delays in projects
  • Difficulty in internal / external communication
  • Misunderstandings
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Delayed when launching products

Who Needs Terminology?

Terminology management is a broad concept that includes operating theoretical principles of terminology as methodologies and a range of practical activities for manipulating information for specific purposes such as preparing, processing and documenting vocabulary.

Terminology Management can be carried out using electronic terminology databases (termbases, glossaries), information available in different file formats, automation tasks (e.g. automatic terminology extraction), and information exchange.

It has become even more crucial since terminology is not available in traditional resources -for instance dictionaries- and, if available in other resources, such as the Internet, it is not usually standardized.

In the process of eContent localization- translation and cultural adaptation of information for different markets- terminology should be used consistently in all of the components of a product, such as website, online help, product manuals, etc.

The specific terminology related to the product is provided in corporate language glossaries, which normally have to be imported into the translator’s database. During the localization process, the source text to be translated is often modified – even after already being translated – because products are constantly updated. Such a case can turn into a language emergency without appropriate terminology management.

As Karsch states, “Once a terminology management system was in place, the consistency of terms used in the translated products increased. The cost associated with a managed term was about USD 100 in the beginning and dropped below USD 80 once the system was well-established” (2006, 174). These statistics show the importance of using terminology management systems in the translation and localization industry

Two Approaches to Terminology Management

-According to the prescriptive approach, terminology work “constitutes an agreement by users to adopt a term for common and repeated use in given circumstances”. It aims at language planning, technical and scientific unification, standardization and harmonization.

-According to the descriptive approach, terminology work “observes and analyses the emergence of terms”. It aims at documenting terminological diversity for research purposes.

At Intraway

Here at Intraway, we take quality and standards very seriously. That is why, for quite a few years now, we have been using SDL Trados and Multiterm to:

  • Increase productivity and quality (consistent usage of Corporate Language)
  • Reduce time-to-market
  • Facilitate communication between departments
  • Save time and lower costs

For further information about Terminology Management, please contact Intraway’s Linguistics Team at translations@intraway.com.


Karsch, Barbara. 2006. “Terminology Workflow in the Localization Process.” In Perspectives on Localization, edited by Keiran Dunne, 173-191. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Muñoz Tavira, Patricia. 2010. “TILP Localization.” TILP. Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lecture.

Sager, James. 1900. A Practical Course in Terminology Processing. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

UNESCO. 2005. Guidelines for Terminology Policies. Paris: UNESCO, 2005. Web. 8 May 2015.

Image source: websitesfortranslators.com

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