The Importance of a Termbase

Termbases are an important part of the process of translating any sort of text, but they are especially useful, to the point of being essential, when working with technical texts. As a policy, a translation with complicated vocabulary or terminology needs to be done with techniques and procedures that can ensure a good level of quality and consistency.

Uploading a termbase in a translation tool, more specifically in a Trados translation memory in its various versions, is a simple task; yet not all translators know how. However, industry experience indicates that, once you learn how to load a terminology database (normally a matter of simply reading an online tutorial) and successfully implement it in your workflow, the translation becomes much more fluid and natural and reduces the time devoted to investigation of a particular term.

Depending on the client with whom you work (either as a freelance translator or translation agency), the possibility exists that they already provide these bases from the outset to incorporate in the terminology tools. This, of course, greatly facilitates the task of the translator, since simply loading this termbase is enough to start working. If, however (this is something that happens frequently), the client does not send any list or glossary of terms for reference, then you need to create one from scratch. This step is critical, especially in cases where you have to work on a text that is highly technical and quality control is necessary.

Creating a termbase from scratch is also a simple process to learn. The termbase can be created from: an Excel file with nothing more than two columns with the terms in the source and their definition in the target language in the respective columns; a tab-delimited .txt file (to be converted to .xml or .mdb); or using tools such as SDL Muliterm Extract, which allows a term extraction based on bilingual files.

You always have the possibility of creating a termbase, either from scratch or using a simple Excel file. While the latter is the most classic method, it is not the most dynamic or most effective. It is important to encourage people to find faster options, as having a specific glossary ensures a better translation quality, especially because in this way terms are unified that would otherwise be much harder and time-consuming to address.

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