Imagine a situation in which an organisation’s sales team in its customer meetings uses specific terms concerning the company’s products and services, the marketing department comes up with new synonyms and project leaders use different terms when they are speaking. It’s no wonder the customer is confused by all the different terms.
In organisations of all sizes, it must be ensured that terms are used consistently so that the organisation’s internal and external communications are uniform and professional. The random use of terms leads to unnecessary hassle and, at worst, the use of incorrect terms can have legal consequences.
Managing the company’s term base
The solution to the inconsistent use of terms is term base management that is suitable and appropriate to the customer’s needs. With the help of a well maintained term base, the quality of the company’s communications will improve and the translation of multilingual communications and content will become easier. In addition, the company will avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.
How then is a term base compiled? By term base we mean a database that gathers together the vocabulary and terminology of a company and its specialist field. The term base is compiled by analysing the company’s texts, from which appropriate terms used by the company are selected. The term base can include all kinds of language materials, from individual terms to slogans and titles. It is also a good idea to prepare instructions on how the term base is maintained. It is always a good idea to create a multilingual term base in cooperation with a translation partner.
Tips for managing multilingual terms:
1. Think about the terms from a bigger perspective.
The same terms concern the company’s entire personnel. For example, in marketing and the technical department it would be good if the same terms were used for the benefit of consistent communications. In certain situations, different departments could have their own terms, but this is worth thinking about specifically.
2. Identify terms actively.
Terms should be identified actively. This concerns both special terminology and communications in general language. For example, decide if you use the term ‘client’ or ‘customer’ for the word asiakas, and what titles are used when speaking about employees.
3. Use a term base also in translations.
A term base can be used when translating communications in one language or multiple languages. The importance of correct terms is emphasised especially in translations.
4. Take advantage of cooperation.
Through cooperation you will achieve the best end results. Multilingual term work should include experts in the fields that use the terms, the company’s communications department and a translation expert. This ensures that the term base you create meets the needs of the company in the best possible way and that the terms are correct for all the languages the company communicates in.
5. Choose the final term from the alternatives.
In the company, there must be a designated person who makes a final decision if there are many alternatives. Somebody must have the power to end the confusion of alternatives and decide on the final term.
6. Centralise all terms in one place.
It is a good idea to collect all validated terms in one place, to which anyone who needs them, such as the company’s personnel and translators, have access when they need to check. It also makes it easier to maintain the term base when all the terms are collected in one place.
If terminology management and term bases have got you thinking, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help you in matters concerning terminology and translations.
Writers: Laura Märijärvi and Iisa Virtanen