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Let the Computer Do the Checking

Hands with Pen over Lined Paper by gt_pann,

In the posts about glossaries, including the recent one about benefiting from Microsoft glossary, I often refer to terminology checks. Based on the feedback I get, I thought a brief explanation is in order. In fact, checking terminology is just another part of translation process that benefits from systemization and automation. For someone who never does that, this may sound like rocket science. But bear with me, it’s definitely not. When it comes to checking terms, our two main goals are to make sure that (a) translation is consistent and (b) free from omissions. To this end, we need a list of terms and a QA program to feed this list to.

Creating a List of Terms

The easiest way to compile a list of terms (or a glossary) is by filling it while you translate a project. CAT programs make it very easy to do so. For instance, with OmegaT, you simply highlight a term, click Ctrl+Shift+G, then add the translation and a comment. As a result, you have a list of terms by the time you finish the project and get down to quality assurance. If you also have a glossary provided by a client, you can combine both.

You can take this even further by extracting a list of frequent terms even before you start translation. I like to use the marvelous Rainbow for this purpose. Rainbow lets you drag and drop the source file and get back a list of recurring words and word combinations. This way, you have the most complete list, reducing the risk of missing something important.

Checking with a Quality Assurance Program

Now that you have a list of terms, the only remaining step is to feed it to your favorite program and run the actual check. I prefer QA Distiller, but other great tools such as ApSIC Xbench or the free CheckMate are also available. When you’re reviewing the QA results, you’re looking for two types of errors—inconsistencies and omissions. Be prepared to see a few false positives and be tolerant, in particular if you’re not a native speaker of the target language—a word can take forms other than the one in the glossary or be entirely different because this is what the context requires.

Now, this process takes a lot of time and patience, especially if you never thought of checking terminology as a separate QA step before. I can’t sell you on this—you have to try it for yourself. The one thing I can tell you is that I’ve been using it for 6 years and can’t imagine translation without it any longer. If you need more reassurance, read this post about the power of translation glossaries.

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.