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Terminology management - is there life beyond Excel?
Thread poster: Nico van de Water
Nico van de Water  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:34
English to Dutch
+ ...
Aug 8, 2008

This forum aims to address terminology management that goes further than the average Excel file. Ideally, this forum will provide extensive guidelines for translators and other language and communication professionals, with TBX and/or OLIF/MARTIF terminology management as ultimate aim.

[Edited at 2008-08-08 14:33]

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:34
English to French
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Yes, there is Aug 8, 2008

There are many different ways to manage terminology. Of course, if you use methods that are freely available, then you have to be aware that it will require a bit more effort to maintain termbases. However, some of the alternative methods are so efficient that the extra effort is well worth it.

Using Excel sheets is a good habit. Not that Excel itself is a great alternative to term management systems or other tools, but you can always keep a flat Excel file which can then be easily converted into other formats and/or imported into other software so you can use it in a more efficient way.

My favorite method for using termbases is the use of ApSic XBench. It is a great TM and TDB viewer. You can import XML termbases created using SDL MultiTerm. This is very useful for those who don't have/use SDL's line of products but would like to still be able to use MultiTerm TDBs. Another method to use XBench for terminology is to create tabbed text files and use XBench to browse and display the content.

A method that is often overlooked is creating a database in Microsoft Access. I know that some agencies work that way, and I see no reason why not experiment this method. The advantage is that you can search Access DBs as you would an online dictionary - faster than a paper dictionary and an Excel worksheet. The other advantage is that you can define fields for other information, like context, source, subject matter, etc.

As an alternative to Access, you can also use Zoho Creator, a free, customizable web application that lets you actually create an application to enter data and allows you to customize the display, filter the data and even to create reports and graphs. Of course, it can be used for many other applications. The advantages of using Zoho are the possibility to take your TDB with you wherever you are since it's available online and the ability to share it with colleagues (you just need to unlock it for them and they have access over the Web).

As for building a TDB, my method of choice is using AntConc, a free concordancer, to extract the terms. If you have only the source text and are extracting terms to create a glossary to be translated ultimately, this is the best method for me. If you are working with a pair of source and target files (or directories), you can extract the source terminology the same way. Then, you can align the source and target text and create a translation memory, which you can then add to an XBench project so you can browse it to find the translations for the source terms extracted in AntConc.

Free downloads:
ApSic XBench -
Zoho -
AntConc -

All the best!

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Nico van de Water  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:34
English to Dutch
+ ...
Yes, but... Sep 5, 2008

Dear Viktoria,

Many thanks for your excellent contribution! Also, sincere apologies for the lateness of me reply: I set up this forum a few days after my return from a holiday in the States, and had no idea how hard the jet lag would hit me. Coupled with the usual backlog in mails, admin and work...

Anyway, just a few more impressions to describe my situation. As I have been translating for nearly 30 years now, you (and the other readers) can imagine that I have tons of terminology that are simply begging for a decisive and structured approach. To this end, I bought the Heartsome Translation Suite, which has a TBX editor (Dictionary Maker). However, the documentation is so bad that it is, I'm afraid, a waste of money (although I have used the XLIFF editor). In terms of other tools/programs, I have to admit that I dislike both the SDLX terminology engine (too complicated to set up a new TDB) and the MultiTerm solution, in that both do NOT automatically insert the translation of a term or phrase already entered into the TDB. Especially in the case of MultiTerm, it takes several mouse-clicks to open or select the correct MT TDB, search for the term and insert it into the segment at hand. (FYI, Atril's DVX automatically inserts the terms it finds into the segment at hand!) Furthermore, I have just started using my new PC, but, being a 64-bit monster, I can no longer install MT. So much for SDL and anticipating new technology...

I have thought of using a database program (such as Access), but I have to admit that I am not very good at setting up databases. So that leaves the "old" XML approach. On reading up on the TBX and OLIF/MARTIF formats, I find myself very soon bogged down in all kinds of linguistic (lexical and other) terms that I am not familiar with. In other words, I get lost and do not know how to start structuring the data I have (this with an eye to importing data into either format).

However, the summer is over, autumn and winter are approaching, so it is that time of the year again to do some studying. I will dig deeper into OLIF/MARTIF, and will keep you updated.

One off-topic question: is the flag that you display the flag of Quebec? Off-topic information: I am Dutch, but live in Germany, after long periods in the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland. In Ireland, I studied Linguistics at Trinity, but had to cut this short to support my (new) family. So I never got to the interesting bits about lexicology, word formation, terminology and vocabulary. The more's the pity...

With best regards,

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