IBM Terminology: “The Power of Consistent Terminology”

ibmThat is the headline of IBM’s page that provides information on terminology management. I think it’s a very powerful headline and I was happy to find the information while doing some research. It’s a very simple and concise overview of terminology management, just like we like it. Also, it’s a great example of how important terminology management is for any company, but particularly large companies such as IBM. Here are the topics covered. I have extracted some highlights for each topic to give you an idea of the contents.


  1. Terminology Management. Executive overview.

“Today, to effectively develop and deliver global software, we need to pay more attention to how we manage the terminology used in software and corporate collateral. Without controls, terminology can cause problems that will cost your company money and customer satisfaction”

  1. Introduction to Terminology Management. What is the problem?”

“Consistent terminology contributes to presenting an integrated look and feel across products, and it ensures that service, support, marketing, and development all speak the same language, a language users can learn to understand.”

  1. Terms you need to manage.

“The types of terms that you may need to manage when developing global products include homonyms, synonyms, new terms or ‘neologisms,’ and non-translated terms.”

“When users have to decipher the intended meaning, the information is unclear, and the term may even be incorrectly translated.”

  1. Use a Terminology database.

“How do you minimize terminology problems? Start by creating a robust terminology database that records both homonyms and synonyms and can mark new terms and other usage information such as product use and subject fields.”

  1. Extract terms

“Extracting terms from product materials as they are being developed can be very beneficial. According to the LISA survey, terminology extraction is one of the most frequently performed terminology tasks in the localization process.”

  1. Repurpose terminology

“Most people think terminology is just about words and definitions. After all, that’s what a dictionary contains. But today, more detailed information needs to be recorded about terms to support the development of global products.”

  1. Summary of benefits and challenges

“A proactive approach to terminology management supports your overall globalization strategy.”

“There are challenges ahead, including, developing better terminology management tools and increasing awareness in the corporate culture of the need to use proper terminology. Facing those challenges will become even more important as the bar is raised for better and better global software.”

Also, don’t forget to check IBM’s software and hardware products glossary. Click here.

In some topics they have links to “Further reading”, in case you want to read more.

Originally published on

What Makes Someone a Native Speaker?

What Makes Someone a Native Speaker?

“Did you write in English back home? Who edited it to make sure it wasn’t wrong?”

Being an immigrant journalist in the U.S. comes with a truckload of microaggressions. While the current political scenario has presented itself as a living nightmare for refugees and immigrants alike, language and accents has been one subject that people can’t seem to draw the line between comical and offensive. And when you’re in a profession that requires you to have a good command on a language, the questions get even more offensive.

Moving to the U.S. introduced me to a range of people expressing surprise at my English skills, from Uber drivers to fellow journalists. Coming up with various answers for an incessant stream of “your English is so fluent!” drove me to the question—Who is a native speaker?

To come to terms with my ability to “speak English so well,” I contacted a couple of linguists in order to learn more about this.

The term “native speaker” is an implication of someone who has “internalized” a language rather than learning it deliberately. “When you’re born, your brain has plasticity,” says Nicholas Subtirelu, a professor of applied linguistics at Georgetown University.

“Linguists believe that you are receptive to any language in the world, and no one is biologically inclined to one language over the other,” he said.

This would mean that a native speaker of a language would automatically know how to use a word in a sentence, even if they haven’t encountered a similar situation before. For example, a native speaker of English would know to use discontinued and not uncontinued, while someone who has learned the language later in life may not.

This also means that it is possible for someone to have more than one native language. A child can learn any number of languages natively when exposed to them before the age of 6.

Subtirelu stated that the discrimination of people belonging to different races and backgrounds, particularly their accent or sentence structure, was born out of identity politics and preconceived notions, and doesn’t necessarily have a scientific basis.

I am a native English speaker. I am also a native speaker of two Indian languages. In America, my English isn’t seen as of equal value. But science says otherwise.

“This is why the point of everybody having a native language is something to really stress,” he said. “Because it is used by some people to undermine the humanity of certain groups of people.”

In the case of a language like English, which was the tongue of British colonizers in many countries like India, Malaysia and South Africa, English is spoken as the first language of a portion of the population. What causes confusion, and often ignorance, is the presence of a different accent.

Accents are usually a product of all the languages you’re exposed to. Take my case for example—As someone raised in India, my T has a harder emphasis and my Ws and Vs sound different from a person raised in the United States. This is due to the influence of my other native languages, Hindi and Telugu. The languages I learn in the future will have a similar influence.

“You draw on the resources of your native languages to assist you in learning new languages,” said Subtirelu. “Any one who is trying to distinguish or put you outside a language block because of your accent, is using a criterion that is not linguistic, but Colonial hierarchy and years of internalized racism have made European accents desirable, while Asian and African accents tend to be mocked and devalued.

He continued, “When people get into this discussion about whether you have an accent and if that makes you a native speaker, what you’re basically doing is saying ‘you talk funny.’ Simply put, it is racism.”

At the end of the day, language is a tool for communication. Use it to talk and debate, not discriminate.

Originally published on PASTEMAGAZINE