BIK Terminology—

Solving the terminology puzzle, one posting at a time

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    Barbara Inge Karsch - Terminology Consulting and Training

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How do I identify a term—specialization

Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on June 26, 2010

You may have noticed that no two people involved in term selection will make the exact same choices; each person’s list would look slightly differently. And depending on the users of the database, different terms need to be selected. After terminologization and confusability, the next selection criterion is a term’s degree of “specialization.” And here is where the person selecting the terms and the person consuming the terminology product influence choices.

What is a highly specialized term to one person may be old hat to someone else. For example, a content publisher who has worked on, say, ERP content most of their professional life, may not want to document the term “bill of material.” But for an English-to-Slovak translator who might work on a birth certificate and a medical report one day and the ERP project the next, it is really helpful to have a terminological entry for “bill of material” to resort to.Microsoft Office Clip Art

Similarly, if the goal is to prepare a terminology glossary for medical interpreters who have worked in their specialized field for a long time, we may not add the most common anatomical body parts, such as sternum, as they would likely be familiar with them. But if the same terminology database is used to produce a glossary for patient information, it may very well be worthwhile to select and document the terms sternum and breastbone.

In my experience—especially in large-scale environments with multilingual databases with dozens of target languages, hundreds of products and thousands of consumers—if you find that a term is not that specialized, because you are familiar with it, do include it anyway. Since you know it, you can set up a correct and complete entry quite fast; while it’ll take someone else a long time to research and find the information that you already have.

After terminologization, confusability, and specialization, tomorrow we’ll look at the simple topic of frequency.


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