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Terminology Management: Lessons from the World of Localization
2007, Q4 (January 01, 2008)
By Sue Kocher, Carolina Chapter Senior Member

Sue Kocher
Sue Kocher

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the November 1, 2007, edition of words@sas, a series of articles about Terminology Management issues, published on the internal web site of SAS Institute Inc.

Earlier this month, John Kohl and I attended the Localization World conference in Seattle and gave a presentation entitled Real Enterprise Terminology Management: A Case Study. I summarized how the Terminology Management Steering Committee at SAS built support for T19T (terminology management) and how the committee obtained executive support for standardizing our language assets. Kohl provided two examples of bad T19T practices that we followed when we didn’t know any better, as well as several examples of best practices that we have adopted more recently.

The audience was very interested in the details of obtaining corporate sponsorship for T19T, and in the SAS implementation of Acrocheck, a grammar/style/terminology checker that Kohl has customized extensively. Left with little time to answer all the questions at the end, participants sought out Kocher and Kohl between sessions and at evening gatherings to compliment them on their presentations and to ask for tips.

So what do we learn by attending conferences that are mainly for localization professionals, and by talking with people about terminology management?

For one thing, by staying abreast of what other companies are doing with respect to T19T, we’ve benefited from their successes and mistakes. When we first presented our T19T proposal to SAS Executive Management in January 2006, we showed that SAS was near the bottom of the “language excellence” staircase, and that many of our competitors were well ahead of us on the road to managing language assets. Through diligent efforts and partnerships among colleagues in development, localization, marketing and corporate communications, the tides have turned. We now find that we’re among the top software companies in terms of “terminology vision,” and we are poised to take the lead in implementation as well!

Progress In Terminology Management

At all of the conferences that we attend, one key idea surfaces again and again: You must have people and processes in place to review and revise terminology during the software development phase—before translation begins—in order to gain maximum ROI from terminology management practices. It’s always more expensive to fix problems downstream, after they have settled in and multiplied.

A few years ago, a SAS competitor was the undisputed leader in their use of language technologies, including machine translation. Today they seem to be lagging because they have not devoted sufficient human resources to address the source-language quality issue. A second competitor has a similar problem, having invested huge resources into statistical machine translation, but not getting much ROI because they have no unified process or tools for improving the quality of their source documents.

A third competitor is emerging as the new leader. They work with doctoral students to fine tune their approach to machine translation. They are getting great ROI because they use Acrocheck and because they have intricate T19T processes and tools in place. We want to be there!

At SAS, our T19T initiative is increasingly being seen by other professionals as “cutting edge.” The pressure is on to make good on that image—to produce quality source language in all products and documents, and to ensure centralization and reuse of our language assets. With the support of our talented localization specialists, developers and interested parties from around the company, we aim in 2008 to bring implementation in line with our visionary goals.

Sue can be reached at Sue dot Kocher at sas dot com. End of article.

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