Words Have Power: Why Terminology Matters



Nadia Morales


Every day we come up with new terms, especially if we usually read specialised texts, and we get to understand many of them due to the context, but many others turn out to be completely unknown and therefore difficult to translate. How important is terminology when translating? Why is jargon sometimes necessary? Keep reading and find out!
There are some facts we should be aware of before translating. Firstly, terminology is crucial for effective communication. Jargon condenses meaning and, for those who are used to using technical language, it constitutes a more straightforward way of communicating ideas clearly and faster.


Secondly, terminology plays a key role in the creation of specialised texts. Think of legal documents such as complaints. In this case, it is necessary to carry out extensive research into certain fields before choosing the right words. A mistranslation in key terms may bring about a change of meaning which will definitely affect the translation, and it could even affect the case. If you look up the word ‘jargon’ in a dictionary, you will see it refers to those technical words which are difficult for non-experts to understand. That is the reason why experts usually have to explain procedures and all relevant legal jargon in plain English.


Thirdly, specialised terminology helps you create high-quality content. As a professional, you need to be prepared to deal with specific terminology in combination with good grammar skills. As a result, you will be able to express your ideas correctly and effectively, standing out among the rest. So, terminology is a must if you want to act and look like a professional.

However, for every plus there is a minus. Sometimes there are terminological difficulties coming from cultural differences, taking into account that many terms do not have a one-to-one equivalent in the target language. Here your technical skills play a key role. It is common consensus that if there is a legal term, for example, which does not exist per se in another language or maybe it is used in a different way, a brief explanation is recommended as footnote, otherwise you would be altering the real meaning and the fluency of the target text. Trying to find a cultural equivalent would be another good alternative.


Needless to say, automated translation will by no means be able to replace human translators. Programmes know nothing about coherence and cohesion, and certainly they are not prepared to deal with linguistic challenges such as the different entries one single word or phrase may have depending on the context.


To sum up, we are ready to assume that technical jargon is one of the pillars of specialised writing, so if you want to become a professional of the language, you should learn that many terms and expressions are only used in particular contexts, and they cannot be easily replaced. It is a matter of knowledge and choice.




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