Regardless of where information has to live, for how long or according to what standard, using metadata to control it is a well-established and relatively inexpensive process. However, complexity and costs can rise rapidly when an organization has to expand metadata usage in multiple languages for many different locations worldwide.
Tie it Together with Taxonomies
Content Management Systems such as SharePoint (yes, I consider SharePoint a CMS…) have a taxonomy tool called the Term Store where taxonomies can be created in one language, such as English, and then mapped to alternate languages, such as Spanish, with the click of a dropdown (and someone who knows how to translate/localize terms).
Figure 1: Here we can see the term Accounting and Finance highlighted in the SharePoint Term Store in English (courtesy of the WAND General Business Taxonomy www.wandiinc.com)
Figure 2: Above we see how the SharePoint Term Store can handle multiple languages. Note that this feature does not translate the word. It just makes it available for use in a different language you decide.
Figure 3: Here we see that I’ve selected Spanish and the Default Label changes from English to the same term in Spanish. Note that I entered the term in Spanish then saved the addition.
What this means for controlling content is that metadata tags that are applied to content in one language can be searched on with an equivalent term in another language. For example, if I tagged an article with “Accounting & Finance” based on the above example in SharePoint, and then searched on it in Spanish using “Contabilidad y Finanzas” I could get the same results. (Please excuse any discrepancies in translation). In this regard, content can be controlled across multiple languages in multiple content repositories using one standardized taxonomy, which contains mappings to translated terms.
Juggling Multiple Languages
For a more robust method of doing this multiple language mapping for metadata (remember that metadata can simply be tags (terms) applied to content as it’s being created), there are enterprise-wide taxonomy tools that can be used across multiple CMSs. Tools such as PoolParty (seen below) can manage dozens of translations across multiple platforms and integrate them all into one search system.
Figure 4: Here we can see the term in PoolParty in its native Spanish, with the translation in English as another Preferred Label. See below for more detail. “Contabilidad General” is the original Preferred Label in Spanish (“es”), but we can also see that “General Ledger” has been added as another version, this time in English (“en”).
For content managers who have to manage information in multiple languages across many different platforms, this can be an amazing advantage. Content can be created in an author’s native language, such as Spanish, tagged with a Spanish term, and if the translation for that term is in place, the content can also be automatically tagged with English, French, Italian, Japanese, etc. language. This can be an invaluable method of controlling content across multiple locations and multiple content types.
This can scale over multiple systems and multiple locations if a tool like PoolParty is used, which can be integrated into many systems.
The bottom line is that metadata can be used to manage content across borders, so to speak, and a taxonomy can be used to map multiple languages together for improved search and findability.
Title image by hjl