Terminologists conduct research required to translate and interpret technical,
professional and scientific vocabulary and material. "Terms" used in one language
do not translate easily into another language. Or they could mean something
entirely different in another language.
Terminologists study journals, publications and other sources to ensure
that correct terminology is used when translating across languages. They identify
changes, variations and developments. They organize terminological data into
bilingual or multilingual glossaries, card indexes or other databases.
Terminologists advise translators, interpreters and editors on questions
related to terminology.
Terminologists use computers a lot. Most of the research and recording
is done on a computer. Terminologists also attend meetings and might serve
on committees and boards.
Terminologists are employed by private translation and interpreting agencies,
government, large private corporations and international organizations. They
may work for the media. Or they may be self-employed.
Hans Fisher is a self-employed translator and terminologist. He estimates
that 85 percent of terminologists in the U.S. are self-employed.
Terminologists often specialize in a specific field, such as law, medicine,
literature or business.
According to Fisher, a person with mobility challenges would have little
or no problems working as a terminologist or translator. A person with severe
visual impairment might not be able to manage this type of work. But someone
with a hearing impairment could manage by using e-mail, faxes or other non-auditory
means of communication.
In the U.S., translators are more likely to perform terminologist functions
along with their other job responsibilities. "It is necessary for every translator
to be concerned with terminology, if he or she is serious about maintaining
professional-level quality," says Fisher.
"This is absolutely essential when repeated jobs in the same field are
received from the same client. The translated terminology must be consistent."