Benefits of Using Terminology Management Systems (TMS)

On the occasion of finishing the 10th edition of the Workshop III: Terminology Management with Translation Memories, offered by IULA, I have decided to devote this post to one of the primary aspects of the terminological activities, i.e. terminology management (TM). Basically, TM is a set of operations for the creation and maintenance of terminological data, targeting the broad community of translators, terminologists, interpreters, librarians, technical writers, journalists, lexicographers, philologists and linguists as well as specialists of different fields interested in the creation of glossaries for their respective disciplines.

It might sound odd but some institutions, even those organisations involved in terminology standardisation, today are still stuck in the paper world when it comes to controlled and standardised terminology. Some other individuals or terminological centres might have a partial paper-based and partial automatised work. There are often significant obstacles to overcome when implementing TMS. However, there are also many significant benefits that can be had once these systems are in use. Let’s see what a TMS does:

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Are dictionaries relevant for specialists?

Having worked as a terminologist for some 11 years and witnessing some challenges subject-field specialists have in finding the desired information in a dictionary, it’s not surprising that I have decided to write about specialists and their relation to terminography.  I have also studied this topic in my Master’s dissertation (2012) which was about the general tendency of experts in using specialized dictionaries. It was my first attempt to write about this subject, but it wasn’t the first time observing the role of specialized dictionaries in the academic life of experts.

Based on my experience, it is not occasional that a specialist cannot find a specific term in a technical dictionary, or if it is found, the definition or the semantic relations provided may not be accurate enough. This simply results in further searching for the suitable meaning or some other terminological information by multiple checking and comparison among existing reference resources.  In other words, it might be the case that most lexicographical resources do not fulfill experts’ quality and quantity expectations. A simple question might be “what do they look for that cannot be found in a single specialized dictionary?”. 

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