How to choose the right terminological resource
Terminology includes terms (words, abbreviations and phrases) that have a specific meaning in a specialized language. The process of looking up, storing and managing terms is called terminology management. Effective terminology management can save you lots of time. It is believed that 40% of translation time is spent in terminology research (see article). Systematic terminology management guarantees the consistency of translations making sure that each time the same translation is provided for a term.
While managing your terminology can definitely help speed up the translation process and deliver consistent translations of great quality, there will always be terms you need to look up. The world is changing and every day tons of new terms and expressions are born. These are called neologisms. Sometimes existing words and phrases receive new meanings.
There are many websites offering term lists or term bases including definitions and/or translations. Below are a couple of web sites listing a large number of links to terminological resources. What none of them do, is telling you how to asses the quality of these resources.
There are at least four criteria a website should fulfill in order to qualify as a credible terminological resource. First of all, it should be authoritative which means the content of it should be authentic to the domain. Its makers are experts in the subject field and they know what they are talking about. The website in which the resource is embedded should have some authority, a serious and professional look. Not just a site with a bunch of advertisements, or the home-page of some vague individual but preferably a governmental site or the site of a well-known multinational.
Secondly, it should be comprehensive meaning that a term base or a site with some 50 terms and little extras is less trustworthy than a resource containing 5.000 terms and extra information in the form of definitions, term variants, synonyms, domain labels, grammatical and pragmatical information, example sentences etc. The term comprehensive is subjective in itself but it helps when you need to compare two or more resources.
A resource should also be user-friendly meaning that if it’s slow, regularly unavailable, difficult to search for information or has a too complex interface, it is not so useful and reliable as a user-friendly resource where you, busy translator, can find all information at you fingertips in a fraction of a second. Preferably, this resource should also have an API so that you can include it in your favourite CAT tool.
Finally, the site of the resource should also be regularly updated. Most sites and databases contain information on the date they were last updated. Usually, this can be found on the bottom of the page. It’s worth checking this when consulting the site in order to asses the validity of the information found.
While there is a vast amount of information on the Web, filtering this information becomes crucial. So make sure you are searching for the right terminology in the right place!
The sites listed here offer a good starting point in your search for terms: