Consistent Terminology

Consistent terminology is one of the primary objectives that the translator as well as the editor must keep in mind at all times while executing their daily duties, though this is not always an easy task when working with excessively large documents, even when a translation memory is used.

On many occasions, translators and editors feel that the only available tools are those checking for the correct spelling.  However, we can also use tools that help us keep consistent the terminology, in particular, by creating the so-called “blacklists.”

What Are They?

In practice, this means creating a list of certain “forbidden” words that a program would recognize when they are used, and warn the translator (or editor) that the segment must be checked before getting the OK, thus making sure that words that are specifically singled out as not permitted in a certain text do not, in fact, appear.

When Can We Use Them?

Each client has their own preferences regarding the use of certain terminology;  for example, one could prefer “industry” over “sector,” or vice versa, or even a different translation for the same term.  Since both would appear to be correct, the spellchecker application would not detect an error, making our task of keeping consistent that much more complicated.

Sometimes, clients may use very specific (or perhaps misguided) translations for certain terms.  For example, the word “abstract” may be used instead “summary” for the Spanish term “resumen.”  Automatic spellchecker software would not register an error, but given the client’s preference, we must consistently choose one over the other throughout the entire project if we wish to avoid potential problems in the future.

We must also be attentive to the use of capitalization in certain names that may sometimes be written in a certain form, and sometimes in the other.

Though it would be possible to use the “search and replace” option in Word on any of these terms, considering the time investment this would require, this option would be unthinkable for large projects.

With what Tools Can Blacklists be Used?

In this case I will talk about the possibilities offered by Wordfast, though there are other tools (such as OpenOffice, for example) that allow this option.

Wordfast allows the user to create a blacklist of terms and does not allow for the translated segment to be closed when a word from this list appears in it.  When the program encounters such a term, it alerts the user and asks for confirmation.

Some of the advantages of the blacklist in Wordfast is that it is easy to create, and that stand-alone words as well as syntagms may be included.

There are also some aspects that need improvement.  Among those are the prerequisite of having to work with a bilingual document created in MS Word, lack of a provision for suggesting alternatives for “prohibited” terms, and the difficulties in managing extensive lists of terms.

Nonetheless, this is a worthwhile application.

Version en Español.