Thousands of languages, millions of words, regional, dialectical and technical variations, human language is a vastly complex and messy medium of communication. In a world in which your boss and everyone else seems to want a piece of you, or at least of your time, are issues related to Terminology Management really something you want to deal with? Will they simplify your life, ease your stress levels, save you time, control your budget? Well, actually, given a chance, the answer is YES!
The realization that all verbal communication is based on terms, that terms can be standardized, and that standardization makes control possible, has for years been the focus of research and development in the evolving field of Terminology Management.
"There is No Knowledge Without Terminology!"
All over the world today, at universities, research institutions, government and the private sector, the goal of facilitating terminologies underlies the activities of groups such as InfoTerm (TermNet), based in Vienna and Canada's Termium. Terminology Management also facilitates Knowledge Management and Knowledge Transfer within and between organizations. TermNet, with other groups, seeks to establish standards which will allow sharing and interoperability.
While efforts to notate and standardize terminology have been around since at least the Rosetta Stone, the advent of the computer and database software meant that terminologists have finally been able to migrate from stones or 3X5 index cards to platforms that allowed advanced terminology applications. Translation Memory tools such as Trados, Star Transit, and Déjà Vu, for example, include not just the recognition of "matches" of unique lexical items, but of "glossary" functionality. In the future, glossaries will continue to support the evolution of machine translation and speech recognition technologies.
To get the maximum benefit out of a customized bilingual or multilingual glossary, an organization should treat it like the valuable asset that it is. As the article Glossary Management by Liesl Leary demonstrates, once the strategic and competitive significance of a customized glossary is understood, the processes of managing it become routine business-as-usual. The effort behind this process represents a considerable savings in time and cost over the longer term as compared to a situation in which either no glossary exists or whatever exists is not integrated into an organization's processes.
ISO 12620 lists some 200 categories used in the management of terminology. Such in-depth detail is aimed at the specialist, not the general user, and most glossaries are created by service providers such as localization companies, not by end users. But an organization that realizes that its glossaries are part of a global effort to create and manage modes of standardizing and clarifying technical communications will be a good step ahead of the competition. As TermNet puts it succinctly, "There is No Knowledge Without Terminology!"