ANSI Signal Words

If you translate technical texts, I am pretty sure you already came across words such as “Danger”, “Warning”, “Caution” or “Notice”. At least in Portuguese documents I have been finding quite a few different wordings for these signal words, which is not exactly a good thing.

Signal words are mainly used in user manuals as well as in signs. They refer to situations where the user is advised to behave in a way that avoids dangers or requires special attention to a particular detail. Each signal word implies a certain degree of severity, therefore they have an underlying symbolic color.

Luckily, a few years ago my Internet diggings led me to a table developed on behalf of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) by a Canadian translation company called Parenty Reitmeier. Since then, I have been using the signal words consistently in my translations, and have been persuading my clients for the need of harmonizing these short but paramount words. By publishing it here I hope I can contribute to the spreading of the correct use of these terms.

Thank you very much for the permission to publish your table in my blog, Lynn!

ANSI Signal words1ANSI Signal words2

Keeping busy

keepcalmTime flies when you are busy or having fun, right? Well, for me at least this year is running so fast that I could really use some 48-hour days sometimes!

Proof is the first seven months of the year have been amazingly productive. Two weeks ago I celebrated the conclusion of my Text Revision and Editing course at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, in Lisbon. So I am now feeling more prepared than ever for all the revision work I often have in hands, and more aware of the small details that make the Portuguese language a beauty! Count me in for the “four-eye principle”!

As also planned since last December, I recently joined the TermNet International Terminology Summer School in Germany, so I spent the second week of July in my lovely second hometown: Cologne. I can tell you: I had a great time!

One of the most interesting items in a summer school program always has to be the “happy hours activities” after classes. As Prof. Klaus Dirk-Schmitz likes to keep every detail under control, he managed to join us in some nice terraces in the Südstadt to enjoy a cold Kölsch at the end of the day, so that we could properly digest all the rich information we had just been presented. Time to socialize and get to know better some of the other incredibly nice participants from all over the world. Have a look at my DIY movie!

TSS_logoAs to the extensive and intensive program, it was absolutely worth the effort! Five days of interesting sessions, varying from the basics of terminology to ISO standards, all the way through terminology software, bespoken solutions and hands-on cases and presentations. I will come back to the contents later in another post.

This training is supposed to prepare the participants for the exam as ECQA Certified Terminology Manager, which I will be taking in September. One more rod for my own back, I guess… 🙂

In the meanwhile I still managed to pay my dear friends at TermCoord in Luxembourg a visit, where I had the pleasure to avidly hear Mr. Rodolfo Maslias and his team discussing issues about terminology, new resources and new platforms. I thank you so much for the time and attention you dedicated to me, specially Mr. Maslias and Maria Pia Montoro. 😉

For now, I will take the opportunity to focus again on my translation jobs that always keep my calendar alive! I wonder if I will have time to get some sun at the beach nearby…

Terms don’t come easy

Terminology is key for any translator. The quest for the right equivalent is a never-ending issue. In order to face the challenge, several obstacles pose before a translator though:

– Time is a luxury commodity, so it is never sufficient to allow deep digging in the subject.

– Clients in general have no clue of what’s behind words. The mainstream thought is that there is always a direct target word for a source word. You just have to look for it properly out there. Of course the widespread automated translation engines do not help us in our efforts to explain that translation involves a bit more than that.

– There is a myriad of good references online. The problem is that it is mixed up with a myriad of trash. It takes a clinical and critical eye. And know-how.

In more recent years, it seems clients finally started to understand the need to extract and systematize their own in-house terminology. Who among us does not welcome a pretty looking glossary along with the translation project?! Most of the times, however, we are lucky if we get a previous created TM, filled in with segments from previous translations. What in turn can be a long shot: the terms inside are mandatory, but may be absolutely objectionable, incompetent, irrelevant.

So if we give it some thought, what would be the optimal solution for terminology in translation? To extract the terms beforehand, and create a customized termbase we can use during the translation process? Awesome! But for that we need time, we need a consultant designated by the client, who gives us the concept and has the know-how, and probably a consultant in the target language, who helps us find the conceptual equivalent. Only then we should be able to see the right term.

There is quite a difference between this scenario and the real thing, I must say.

So that was one of the main reasons that took me to Barcelona last week, to attend the seventh EAFT Terminology Summit. I had the opportunity to meet some top names of the world of Terminology, such as Rute Costa, Rodolfo Maslias, Klaus-Dirk Schmitz, Barbara Inge Karsch, Maria Pia Montoro, Teresa Cabré, among many others.

EAFT with Rudolfo MasliasIcon Icon Icon © EAFT

By then I had already decided to attend the TERMNET International Terminology Summer School, which will be held in July in Cologne. This course can be seen as a preparation for the ECQA Terminology Manager certification exam, which I can optionally take next September.

Looking forward!

From Europe to Mercosul


Still working hard to improve our terminology sources!

EuroTermBank (Beta release) has been added to Word as an add-in, so that we can access the search feature more easily from the editor. Like the two previously mentioned Terminotix and TranslatorTools toolbars, this one works in Word, which is obviously not so handy. Anyway, a great resource! Download here.


Since the demand for Brazilian Portuguese is growing, we also have to bear in mind that it is mandatory to consider terminology differences between European and Brazilian language usage. For this reason, we are also proud to announce that we have aligned and created a new database with the official terms of the Nomenclatura Comum do Mercosul. More than 7000 terms in PT-BR with their equivalents in EN. I am afraid there are no more languages available.

Some other new amazing supplements that we have included in our termbase portfolio: IPIN’s Naval, USCG’S Nautical, Automotive, official EU Harmonized Standards, Cinema, and counting!

Prepare files for translation


The webpage is quite humble, anyway Translator Tools promise to bring a huge improvement to the preparation of files for translation.

I still cannot leave you my opinion here, since I couldn’t find the time to try it. However, don’t expect it to interact with Studio or any other CAT tool, but rather with Word and Excel.

Terminotix toolbar


This time I have come across two plugins for a new toolbar, which is meant to be installed both in Word and in Studio. It can be customized in order to interact with your favorite resources on the web.

It provides direct access from Word and from Studio to a handful of glossaries, termbanks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and so much more.

Basically, you don’t need to minimize your document and to open your browser, which saves time and it’s not so patience consuming.

Try it for yourselves from here (for Word) and here (for Studio) – also have a look at the explanations here:

New (re)sources

iate      eurovoc

This week we have enriched our resources portfolio amazingly. The European Union Open Data Portal has recently provided access to the DGT’s TM, which allows translators around the world to use the powerful and immense Translation Memory of the Acquis Communautaire within CAT tools. Besides that, it is now also possible to download the Eurovoc Thesaurus and to interface within MultiTerm! This strongly enriches our terminology resources and is a valuable help in streamlining our translation process.

But there is more: IATE also released a TM and a termbase which can be imported into one’s system. How amazing is that?!