Terminology – what’s that?

When communicating in specialist language, even native speakers often have difficulties understanding each other if one party is not familiar with the technical content. This is because specialist language supplements everyday speech with terms from the respective subject area and this makes communication difficult. Some specialist language contains its own grammatical system or intonation. Outside its subject area, specialist language is not very common, and some specialist words even have a completely different meaning in everyday speech.

Terminology: Science and practice

A terminology deals with concepts and their designations in the respective specialist language. As a separate subject area, terminology also has its own – yes indeed – specialist language. This means that certain terms, i.e. names of things, describe a very specific, technical context or a very specific phenomenon. The word ‘terminology’ denotes three aspects of the field: the doctrine or science, the specialist language and everything related to its capture, and the subject matter of the vocabulary. In the following, we will mainly talk about practical aspects of the subject of terminology.

Terminology possibilities

A terminology establishes a normalised form; it thus has a prescriptive function. Terminologies usually consist mainly of nouns and can be used as a means of specialised communication as well as a tool during the translation process. As a rule, they document how terms are constructed and how they relate to each other. This applies internally to one language as well as to the equivalents in another language.

When terminology is viewed from an abstract perspective, it shows how reality is conceived and knowledge is structured within it by recording the relationships of the terms. For concrete practice, this means that a terminology makes it possible to organise knowledge and to form and analyse designations and concepts from a specific subject area. Properties of terms in specialist communication or knowledge transfer are documented, primarily in order to provide approaches to solving problems.

What is a term?

According to DIN 2342, a term is “any part of the perceivable or conceivable world”. Somewhat decoded, ‘term’, as already mentioned above, denotes a word for an element from a very specific area.

In terminology theory, a distinction is made between the concept as a unit of thought, i.e. as an idea of an object, and the designation as a denotation, which can consist of one or several words. The difference between the designation and the concept becomes clear in the case of homonyms. The name ‘bank’ is generally used for two concepts: for an elongated seat and for a financial institution. The definition is important for distinguishing homonyms. Its task is to determine as clear a connection as possible between the concept and the designation. It also demarcates the concept by relating it to other concepts. This distinction contributes significantly to a detailed and systematic approach. In this way, a conceptual system can be created, for example, that ultimately organises not only designations, but entire concepts or areas. A conceptual system is therefore used to structure the entire body of knowledge in a subject area.

Term: Element of the terminology

A terminology makes it possible to capture the following information:

  • Terms or designations and their systematics and structure
  • Relationship of the concept to other concepts in the terminology in a system
  • Precise definition
  • Object, e.g. in the form of a picture or a representation of the function
  • Equivalent in a foreign language
  • Relationship of the foreign language term to other terms in the terminology of the foreign language, precise definition in the foreign language context, etc.

Accurate documentation in a terminology helps facilitate and speed up specialist communication and ensure its quality. The information can be made available to different application groups and supports the accuracy of fully comprehensive processes.

What is terminology management?

Terminology management is used to identify, represent, store and manage concepts and their terms. You can add new concepts and terms, change existing ones, and delete those that have become obsolete. Usually, databases (which are then referred to as termbases) are used for storage. The terminology can thus be documented as well as managed and can represent an important part of corporate administration.

What UniTerm can do – an overview

Acolada offers four variants of the UniTerm family. UniTerm Light, UniTerm Pro, and UniTerm Enterprise are three Acolada software systems for scalable terminology management.

UniTerm Light and UniTerm Pro are aimed at translators and companies with individual workstations.

UniTerm Enterprise provides an architecture for shared terminology work – including on the internet.

Explanation of the table

  • x = existing feature
  • – = not a feature
UniTerm Light Pro Enterprise Enterprise Web
Term-oriented and with autonomous designations x x x x
Free text fields and selection fields x x x x
Subject area hierarchy x x x x
Reference management x x x x
Multimedia integration x x x x
Import from CSV, Excel, HTML, TBX, MTF, TXT x x x x
Export to CSV, Excel, HTML, MTF, RTF, TBX, TXT, XML x x x x
Support of CJK languages x x x x
Support of right-to-left languages x x x x
Single-user system x x
Small teams (up to 5 terminologists) x x
Client/server x x x
Freely configurable x x x
Terminology extraction x x x
Term checking in author environment x x x
Link to UniLex Pro x x
Link to UniLex IDS x x x
Standard release process x x x
Complex configurable release processes x

We will be happy to advise you on finding the right UniTerm system for your requirements.

UniTerm – Enterprise

UniTerm Enterprise is a terminology management system for larger companies and can be used in medium-sized and larger groups of terminologists.

In addition to the standard functions of UniTerm Pro, it also offers:

  • Rights and user management for assigning rights and roles to the people involved.
  • Version management to record, monitor and compare all changes in terminology and, if necessary, to be able to reset the data to a previous version status (roll-back mechanism).
  • Workflow management to organise editing, reviews and publication and to store these as processes in UniTerm Enterprise.
  • Asset management to integrate multimedia elements into the database and manage media-compatible publications.
  • UniTerm Enterprise Web offers browser-based terminology maintenance.

System requirements

  • Windows 8 or higher or Windows Server 2012 or higher
  • 16 GB RAM
  • Microsoft SQL server

UniTerm Pro

UniTerm Pro is the professional solution for creating, managing and publishing company terminologies and specialist vocabularies and glossaries. This fully functional terminology management system evolved from the requirements of modern dictionary systems and terminology management systems.

UniTerm Pro is a single-user system that can also be used collaboratively on several workstations via a central data repository. UniTerm Pro is therefore also suitable for small teams.

UniTerm Pro comes with a standard terminology entry format that can be extended to suit customer requirements.

UniTerm Pro can be used as an authoring system for dictionaries, glossaries and lexicons. The entry structure can be flexibly adapted to the respective data content.

UniTerm Pro at a glance:

  • Multilingual data management
  • Entry aids for data capture and consistency
  • Multimedia data
  • Flexible entry structure
  • Clear presentation and simple management
  • Sophisticated search functions in all information units
  • Duplicate search (configurable with inclusion of multiple languages and additional data fields)
  • Search for missing languages
  • Spell check at data field level
  • Batch operations such as replacing values with regular expressions and assigning values
  • References and reference control
  • Variable design of layout and outputs
  • Configurable release workflow
  • Statistics and value set export
  • Use terminology or glossary together with dictionaries from the UniLex series
  • Make terminologies available to all employees throughout the company with UniLex IDS
  • Can be combined with terminology extraction from Velingua
  • Can be used for term checking with Velingua

System requirements

  • Windows 8 or higher
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 150 MB (program)
  • Tutorials

A tutorial for getting started quickly with the system, importing CSV data and linking terminology extraction:


Tutorial for transferring old UniLex user dictionaries to UniTerm:


UniTerm Light

UniTerm Light is your introduction to professional terminology management. UniTerm Light allows you to create and manage multilingual terminology databases in an easy-to-use and clear interface.

With concept orientation and designation autonomy, UniTerm Light already provides a fully-fledged terminology database model. UniTerm Light is also fully integrated into UniLex Pro, allowing you to seamlessly integrate terminology databases created with UniTerm Light into dictionaries from the Acolada UniLex series.

UniTerm Light offers a comprehensive import tool for transferring data from the Excel, CSV, TBX, MTF, Text and XML formats.

Both CJK languages and right-to-left languages are supported.

UniTerm Light is available for free download at www.acolada.de: UniTerm Light download (100 MB).

You can start with UniTerm Light and later switch to UniTerm Pro or UniTerm Enterprise if you need flexibility in your working environment or more information in your terminology.

Migration is easy and with their comprehensive configuration options and wider range of functions, UniTerm Pro and UniTerm Enterprise are the perfect systems for further professionalising your terminology work.

Tutorial for transferring old UniLex user dictionaries to UniTerm: http://download.acolada.de/Uniterm/BenWB2UniTerm.pdf

UniTerm authoring system

The Acolada UniTerm terminology management systems have components for the creation, maintenance and publication of dictionaries, lexicons and glossaries.

Many publishers use UniTerm as an authoring system for authors and editors. The main advantages are lexicographical support and a wide range of tools for optimising the publication process.

Monolingual, bilingual and multilingual reference works can be maintained.

UniTerm offers the following for authoring work:

  • Parallel lexicographic indexing in several languages
  • Automated print or digital publication as required
  • Flexible sorting options, taking into account the content of several data fields
  • Dynamic publication preview
  • Consistency checks
  • References including reference check
  • Integration of multimedia data including check routines

Terminological entries

These make up the terminology management system. They provide information on the concept and its designation as well as additional data for the management and maintenance of the recorded information. Examples of important data categories for an entry include:

  • Designation
  • Sources
  • Subject area
  • Context
  • Definition
  • Synonyms
  • Illustration
  • Short forms
  • Spelling variants
  • Degree of correspondence in foreign language variants
  • Comments
  • Transliterations

To structure the entry, these categories are divided into designation-related categories (e.g. grammar-related information), language-related categories (e.g. definition), and concept-related categories (e.g. subject area). On these three levels, additional administration-related categories can be stored, such as the creator or creation date. There is one entry per concept. This is a key difference between terminology databases and dictionaries. In dictionaries, the entries are usually based on the designations. If a designation has several concepts, such as the example of ‘bank’ mentioned above, several entries are created in a terminology database. The ambiguous designation then appears in both entries. This makes it easy to detect ambiguities and manage them appropriately. Duplicate designations for a concept become apparent and can be revised. Processes of this kind optimise translation processes in particular, as communication in the source language is then much clearer.

Support through IT systems

IT systems support all phases of terminology work, including planning, searching, data compilation and editing, and processing. Depending on the focus of use, terminological data collections or termbases are either language-oriented or subject-oriented. In addition, their scope can range from simple dictionaries and glossaries to structured thesauri. They are used in various areas, for example in the editing of technical texts, in translation, in the documentation of products and company processes, in inventory management, etc. For companies in particular, consistent communication of messages, brands, technical information, and products between departments and to customers and suppliers can be valuable for years to come.

What are the benefits of terminology management?

Terminology databases are enormous bodies of knowledge that can be created and managed for a specific purpose. They facilitate and accelerate specialist communication and ensure its quality by terminologically preparing specialist vocabularies in one or more languages and making them available for digital use to diverse and broad groups of users.

Uniformity and standardisation

Terminologies can reliably implement this. High-quality specialist communication also increases the quality of products. Large companies in particular have already recognised this and communicate with their own terminologies, especially internally. This guarantees certainty and efficiency. The more people there are involved, the more sensible it is to work with a fixed terminology.

Fast processes in different languages

Many subject areas have developed rapidly in recent years. Science, research, technology, politics, culture and markets are characterised by constant renewal and the rapid replacement of knowledge and products. This means that specialist knowledge and communication is constantly increasing and complexity is growing. In addition, people are communicating not only within national languages, but also across different languages.

Efficiency and consistency

Professionals exchange specialist information via their specialist language, which is ideally already standardised. If this specific content is now communicated to the outside world, it must be transferred either into the respective everyday or foreign language. Consistent corporate wording not only contributes significantly to internal process optimisation, but also creates uniformity in external communication – making it a significant part of branding.

Companies with a uniform terminology infrastructure constantly optimise their processes and save costs at the same time. Are you interested in terminology management?

UniTerm – term extraction

UniTerm databases can be populated using Velingua terminology extraction. Velingua terminology extraction offers linguistic extraction for German and English corpora.

Simply specify the UniTerm Pro or UniTerm Enterprise database in Velingua as the terminology database and get started.


A tutorial for getting started quickly with the system, importing CSV data and linking terminology extraction: http://download.acolada.de/Uniterm/TutorialUTP_Velingua2018_05_15.pdf

UniTerm – terminology checking (term checking for short)

UniTerm databases can be used by Velingua TermCheck, a terminology checker. Velingua TermCheck Velingua TermCheck uses a linguistic engine to check and mark up texts in German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch for desired terminology and forbidden designations.

Term checking can be integrated in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, in Adobe FrameMaker and InDesign, in Acolada’s XML editing software SIMQIN, and via the clipboard listener in any Windows application.

Simply specify the UniTerm Pro or UniTerm Enterprise database in Velingua as the terminology database and get started.