Tackling terminology in a new field: A practical case

patricia Guest blogger Patricia Brenes is the owner of In My Own Terms, a blog that talks about terminology and terminology management for beginners and beyond.
She has a Master’s degree in translation and a ECQA certification as Terminology Manager.

I was recently asked to do terminology work and translation on a topic that was new to me: SAP (Systems, Applications & Products in Data Processing), the enterprise software that manages business operations and customer relations. I want to share with you the steps I followed to make sure I got my terminology right.

  1. Sign up to expert online forums and groups: To start on the right foot, search for online groups in which experts come together and talk about what they do. To get help on SAP, I signed up for every professional forum I could find and I was surprised to see that people actually were willing to help me. One expert sent me a 16.000 word multilingual glossary!

  2.  Follow expert blogs: I found so many blogs on SAP both in English and Spanish and in one case one of the experts was also a trainer and was helpful in answering a few questions. She also had a great glossary online that I saved in my Favorites, along with the other online glossaries that I found.

  3.  Use social media: We are lucky to live in these times when we can make new contacts and friends by actively using social media. The most valuable offer of help came from an expert in Spain who I contacted via Linkedin. He helped me revise a 250+ term list that I had made in Excel based on the definitions for each term. The best part was that he only made a few suggestions for changes, which meant I was indeed doing my homework right.

  4.  Use Google Custom Search: I put all of my SAP links in a folder that allowed me to do simultaneous searches in my favorite SAP pages (, supportsap, etc.) using Google’s Custom Search.

  5.  Gather your resources: Use Google’s advanced features (such as filetype:pdf or to find reliable information. I found PhD and Master theses, manuals, articles, etc. As always when dealing with the Internet, make sure your documents are written by subject-matter experts.

  6. Confirm you terms through corpus analysis: Convert your collected documents to .txt to analyze in a corpus analysis tool. I cannot emphasize this enough. Doing corpus analysis is critical in your terminology work. It is a great way to look at concordances and initially confirming your terms before they get validated by the expert. In some cases, when you have the same reference document available in your working languages, you can align them and create a translation memory to use as a corpus.

  7. Use your CAT tool to reuse your terms for future translations: The purpose of managing your terminology effectively is being able to reuse it. Regardless of the CAT tool you use, it is key to create a termbase for your terminology. I’m sure you don’t want to see those long hours researching your terminology going to waste.

Although I can’t say I’m an expert in SAP terminology, I can assure you that following these steps made me feel confident about the final product delivered to the client.

Read about terminology in Memsource

  • Term Morphology

  • Termbase Management