January 11, 2023

Terminology: The Border Wall, Entitlements, Abortion

The MS in Translation and Interpreting program invited Barbara Inge Karsch, faculty member and U.S. Delegate to ISO/TC 37, to speak to NYU SPS students about terminology management and technical communication in the context of controversial U.S. discourses. 

After pursuing graduate studies in translation, interpreting, and terminology, Barbara began her professional career as a translator at J.D. Edwards. During the past 25 years, she moved from her work as in-house terminologist for J.D. Edwards and Microsoft to a freelance career in terminology development, consulting, and training for companies and organizations such as Adobe, Facebook, Intuit, and others.

Barbara engaged our community in an activity by asking: Can you think of a term in a subject area? This question sparked a wider conversation on how linguists have come to distinguish between “terms” (technical communication) and “words” (everyday language). Determinologization refers to the process of terms becoming words. “Abortion” provides one example of determinologization, because this well-defined medical term is now used outside of the medical community as a word that means different things to different people. “Entitlements” and “border wall” are additional examples. As Barbara emphasized, technical communicators are concerned with clear communication, which is shaped by community consensus, subject matter expertise, and well-informed terminology.

Barbara’s talk also highlighted the promising job market that exists for technical communicators, spanning commercial environments and large organizations. Barbara noted that some of the skills that are useful in pursuing this career path include conducting research, identifying well-formed terms, authoring definitions, documenting findings, and soft skills. She also delved into the benefits of terminology management including consistency, clarity, and error-free translation, while explaining that best practices from terminology science are applied outside of the translation field in areas such as taxonomy, ontology, and SEO.

Barbara Inge Karsch will be teaching TRAN1-GC1010: Theory & Practice of Terminology this spring. 

A translation and interpreting degree can help you to take charge of your career, whether you are new to the field or already working in the language professions. Apply for PALA’s MS in Translation & Interpreting, a fully online, 36-credit graduate program.


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