How many contracts and negotiations have failed because eventually was translated by the German word eventuell (meaning possibly or perhaps)?
How many expensive mistakes have occurred because someone wrote bit instead of byte in a document? This kind of mistake interferes with communication and results in lost sales and bad investments. Terminology work ensures accuracy.
Terminology work is becoming increasingly important every day:
Burgeoning specialisation and innovation in all subject fields have made it necessary to create special vocabularies (terminologies). Not only do experts have problems talking to laymen – they also have difficulty communicating with each other. This situation applies especially for communication across language and cultural barriers.
Strict product liability laws have increased the need for precise product-related communication. Creative writing – though it may be desirable in general language and literature – is inappropriate here and may prove costly in the long run. Technical communication requires accuracy and precision. This can only be achieved by systematic, concept-oriented terminology work. We know from general language that many frequently-used words may occur in several senses (homonymy), but even technical terms are often ambiguous. Thus charge as a term can denote a number of different concepts in different fields, such as electricity, metallurgy, chemistry, etc.
Another cause of misunderstandings and inaccuracies in communication is the use of several terms for the same concept (synonymy). For example it is not evident to someone unfamiliar with glass-fibre technology that the terms optical wave-guide, light guide and glass fiber denote the same concept. Synonyms may occur where research and development within the same subject field are carried out within different working groups. Standardisation committees have made some contribution towards remedying this situation, but it takes a long time for standardised, unambiguous terms to achieve general acceptance in languages for special purposes. Besides this fact, many terms cannot be standardised. Effective technical communication requires that users clarify the meaning of terms as quickly as possible, and make them accessible to communication partners.