Interview with Marja Vaba

Marja VabaMarja Vaba is a Translation Quality Manager working for one of the biggest and most innovative IT world companies. Her contribution is very useful to understand in which direction the translation/localisation is going towards terminology management.

1) Linda Burchi: Could you please introduce yourself? What is your academic background, work experience and current position?

Marja Vaba: I have been working as Translation Quality Manager in a quickly growing software company for almost five years. When I started, it still felt like working in a start-up where going with the ideas was more important and beneficial than following documentation. Now the company is so big that following processes and having decent documentation and databases are essential for quality assurance in both software development and translation (quality) management. I have had the chance to build up the translation quality system in the company. I have found my background in linguistics and in the translation industry useful for that.

2) Linda Burchi: Is terminology an important variable on the web?

Marja Vaba: I think that terminology is an important variable in all texts because the consistent and systematic way we call things and phenomenons is very important for reader/user understanding. There is also another aspect: in the web, new products emerge very often, thus well-coined and motivated terms help users understand better what they are buying and dealing with.

 3) Linda Burchi: Have the web communications an influence on terminology?

Marja Vaba: It certainly does. In the web, everybody has access not only to information, but also can freely express their opinion. This also counts for terminology – crowdsourcing is going on all the time if a company listens to its users/community.

 4) Linda Burchi: Is there the need for a terminology work or do you think that people in the web are autonomously “cleaning up” online content?

Marja Vaba: Who would be able to“clean up” online content? The Web is too big for that. I think that every company can take care of its own terminology, co-operating with its users, other companies whenever possible, taking into account the linguistic norms, etc…

5) Linda Burchi: Is there a way to control language production on the web? Do you think it is needed?

Marja Vaba: There is no way anyone could control language production on the web – just as nobody would be able to control information on the web. What can be done is to work together with peers and translation companies to set the rules and standards and follow them.

 6) Linda Burchi: What kind of techniques do you use in terminology? A bunch of excel sheets uploaded in a database? Crowdsourcing? Human quality evaluation and selection?

Marja Vaba: Our company uses an online Term Base software that is integrated with our Translation Management System and Translator Workbench. Terms are coined in co-operation between translators and freelance linguists. I believe that in term management, only top notch processes and quality are good enough.

7) Linda Burchi: What do you think of the integration of machine translation with human translation and post editing?

Marja Vaba: Unfortunately I don’t have a personal experience with this process. I think this approach might have a future, especially with technical and help texts. When more creative approach is needed, people will still do the best job (at least for now).

8) Linda Burchi: Are you informed about the machine translation research of the European Institutions? Do you know about the IATE database? If yes, what do you think about them?

Marja Vaba: I have heard that the European Institutions have invested in developing the MT patterns, especially for smaller languages. This is a very good initiative that helps smaller languages stay strong and alive. I know about the IATE database and have consulted it; unfortunately it doesn’t include terms in the specialty of the company I work for.

9) Linda Burchi: How do you imagine the future of terminology in your field of expertise?

Marja Vaba: I am pretty sure that in the coming years, software development / web sales will be an interesting field for a terminologist. As the services have not been set, product development is very active and services get more and more users, new phenomenons keep emerging and new terms with them. Some of the core terminology has been established by now, but most of the work still needs to be done.


linda_cv_pictureInterviewer: Linda Burchi

She graduated in foreign languages with a specialisation in computational linguistics. She is working in the translation and localisation industry. She is particularly interested in language technologies and online content management. You can get more information following her blog People’s Code.

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