Terminology is the study of terms and their use. Terms are words and phrases which describe products, services or industry jargon.

They frequently drive competitive differentiation. Most companies use an increasing number of industry or organization specific words which need to be accurately stored, shared and translated. Terms could be anything from a product name to a marketing tag line.

Terminology is a general word for the group of specialized words or meanings relating to a particular field, and also the study of such terms and their use, this also known as terminology science. Terms are words and compound words or multi-word expressions that in specific contexts are given specific meanings—these may deviate from the meanings the same words have in other contexts and in everyday language. Terminology is a discipline that studies, among other things, the development of such terms and their interrelationships within a specialized domain. Terminology differs from lexicography, as it involves the study of concepts, conceptual systems and their labels (terms), whereas lexicography studies words and their meanings.

Terminology is a discipline that systematically studies the “labelling or designating of concepts” particular to one or more subject fields or domains of human activity. It does this through the research and analysis of terms in context for the purpose of documenting and promoting consistent usage. Terminology can be limited to one or more languages (for example, “multilingual terminology” and “bilingual terminology”), or may have an interdisciplinarity focus on the use of terms in different fields.

Why is it important to manage terminology?

If left unmanaged, terminology can become inconsistent leading to translations that contain competing definitions, this lack of consistency means that translations cannot be re-used. The result of not being able to leverage terminology is that your translations become more time and resource intensive. This added to the lack of managed terminology can reduce client satisfaction and affect your ability to accept translation projects.

How does a terminology management tool differ from a translation memory tool?

A terminology tool is a searchable database that contains a list of approved terms and rules regarding their usage.

A translation memory tool differs, in that it stores segments of text as translation units (in source and target pairs). A segment can consist of a sentence or paragraph.

Translation memory is typically used in conjunction with a terminology management application to ensure terms are consistent in the translation.

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