Yesterday, I ran into a fellow graduate from the Monterey Institute. K. has been a freelance translator for many years and shared some interesting insights that I thought others might like to hear.
My students in particular are wondering whether they should spend time managing their terminology. Most of them are planning careers as freelance translators and are unsure, at least at the beginning of our course.
K. and I started talking about work, and her comments were completely unsolicited. I was also glad to see that I didn’t trigger the uncertain feeling that the mere presence of a terminologist sometimes sets off in my freelance friends. Instead, she was frustrated when she mentioned that her “brain” had reached capacity, if you will, and she could no longer remember things she used to remember early on in working for a particular end-client. That term that had always been on the tip of her tongue just wouldn’t be available.
Furthermore, she mentioned that she had worked for one end-client for many years and diligently set up documents with glossaries. Her direct client, an agency, recently shifted her to a new end-client in the same industry. She said she was almost relieved because handling the many glossaries had become rather difficult.
Terminology technology is much more advanced and much more widely available today than it was when K. started her career. It no longer has to be difficult to set up a system that allows us to be fast. You also don’t have to manage huge volumes of data—after all freelance translators are likely to “only” drive one process with their terminology data, i.e. their translation process. But my advice is to follow terminology best practices, such as concept orientation, term autonomy, data elementarity.
Whatever you do, no need to look guilty.