Software terminology as a curse or blessing: possible solutions for terminological problems.

  • Matthias Vogel Universität Halle-Wittenberg


In our everyday life, the various types of user documentation (printed and online manuals) are becoming increasingly important, e.g., to program a video recorder or carry out specific tasks in a computer program. Because very few people read a manual from front to back, it is not as important for the document to be entertaining or to use complicated vocabulary. Terminology management is a frequently underestimated task in documentation and localization projects. Nevertheless, it plays a crucial role for creating userfriendly documents that are easy to read and understand. Terminological inconsistencies, however, make documents unnecessarily complicated and prevent users from understanding them. Based on examples from the software company Intershop, this paper contributes to establishing terminology management at the heart of both technical documentation and software localization. First, the paper discusses the impact of terminology issues on how to write and translate technical documents. Second, the paper describes terminology research as a precondition for localization projects. This is illustrated by the process of template localization using the “Enfinity tloc” tool. Third, a suggestion is made about the possible structure of terminological records in terminological databases, including the concept and other information, such as definitions, target language equivalents, grammatical information, and contextual information.