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The meaning of 'term' and 'terminology standardization'

What is a term, and why do we standardize terminology?

What does ‘term’ mean?
A term is a label for one specific concept in a specialised field. A term can contain a single word (simple term) or many words (complex term). A term can also be a symbol (©, ®)  or a formula (H2O).

Terms can be similar to words in general language. However, what makes terms different to words in general language is the specific and detailed meaning which they have in their context or specialised field.

In translating a piece of text, the nature of the piece and the target audience should help you decide whether a term or a word in general language would best suit the context of the work.

What does ‘terminology standardization’ mean?
Terminology standardization is a process to ensure that terms conform to specific standards.

The Welsh Government Translation Service follows the standardization guidelines prepared in 2007 by Canolfan Bedwyr, Bangor University on behalf of the Translation Service and the Welsh Language Board. These are based on the international standards in the field.

These are the fundamental criteria:

  • a term should be linguistically correct;
  • it should reflect, as far as possible, the characteristics of the concept which it represents;
  • it should be concise;
  • it should be able to generate other forms;
  • there should only be one term for a single concept.

The status given to a particular term in TermCymru will depend on the degree to which that term has been standardized. You'll find an explanation of the status regime from the menu on the right.