Terminology is an interdisciplinary science, and terminology work is a branch which is difficult to classify. I had some kind of insight into the nature of terminology work when we were thinking about the concept of information work in one meeting of the occupational safety and health terminology project. It was defined: work in which the reception and processing of information and producing new information are essential. When we tried to think about a good example of information work, we realized that the work we were doing, i.e. terminology work, is information work in its most genuine form. In terminology work information is gathered and edited in order to get new, more structured information.
Information work in this project is this kind of work at its best. The work is disciplined and concentrates on the essentials, but there is also plenty of humour. The experts know their field well, have adopted the terminological work methods and are committed to the project despite of their own work load. Although information work is fun, it is also demanding. After a whole day's meeting, the brain needs rest from thinking.
Special field experts participate in all our terminology projects. Many of them have told us that it has been a very educational experience to define the basic concepts of the field. Some things considered self-evident, have not been so, and colleagues may not see things in the same way.
Matti Ojala works as the Chief Physician Director in the Classification Centre of STAKES, the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health. He has been a member of the TSK's board of directors from the beginning of this year, and also in 1995–96.
Ojala became a graduate in 1965 and studied medicine. In 1979 he started to work in the National Agency for Welfare and Health. In 1992 STAKES was founded in the place of the Agency, and Ojala continues to work there.
STAKES follows what happens in the social and health sector both abroad and in Finland, processes information and disseminates it to the social and health sector and other social policy. The task of the Classification Centre is knowledge management, i.e. development and maintenance of terminologies and classifications. In Finland knowledge management is a decentralized activity in the social and health administration. Cooperation is done with the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, trade associations of the social and health branch, the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland and the TSK.
In the 1990s Ojala was the representative of Finland in such a terminology work group of the European Committee for Standardization which prepared standards for health informatics. He asked Heidi Suonuuti, the TSK's director of the time, as an additional expert in a group meeting to inform the standardizers that there is a standardized, systematic terminological method for this kind of work. When WHO started to build the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) in 1995, Ojala suggested that the builders of ICF should look at the ISO standards on terminology work in order to be able to write systematic definitions.
Terminological methods were taken into use in Finland in 1994 when client and patient documents in social welfare and health care were defined. STAKES started to compile glossaries together with the TSK to support its electronic patient document system. So far 250 such concepts have been defined and published, and the work continues. At the moment the biggest challenge of the Classification Centre is to develop a code service for the digital patient document system: in the end of 2007 there should be a common code system for the whole Finland.
Ojala thinks that there is no point in developing social and health terminologies separately; they should be linked to a larger system. Therefore STAKES participates in the Finnish National Ontologies for the Semantic Web project.
The most well-known reference terminology in health care is SNOMED CT which contains more than 360.000 concepts and their relations. In Finland the terminology work of different professions in social and health sector besides doctors is just beginning. Lääketieteen termit (medical terms) dictionary contains about 30.000 terms but the terminologies of other professions contain only 500–1000 terms. Ojala believes that some international reference terminology will be taken as the basis for the Finnish terminology work since it would not make sense to define everything from zero in Finland.
The TSK's newest vocabulary, the Fire and Rescue Vocabulary (TSK 33), will be soon finished. It is based on the TSK's old Palontorjuntasanasto (fire prevention vocabulary) published in 1984. Since then a lot has changed in the field and an updated version was really needed.
The terminology project has been financed by the Finnish Fire Protection Fund, the Special Fund for Fire Prevention, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Department for Rescue Services of the Ministry of the Interior, Housing and Building Department of the Ministry of the Environment, Emergency Response Centre Administration and the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT. There have also been representatives from many other Finnish fire and rescue organizations in the work group.
The vocabulary contains more than 700 term records. The concepts are defined in Finnish and equivalents are given in Swedish, English, German and Russian. Nowadays fire brigades' work is much more than just fire fighting. In fact, only 15% of the alarms received by Finnish fire brigades concern fires. Fire brigades participate in the prevention of fires and other accidents, take care of the transportation of patients and giving first aid. The areas covered by the vocabulary are combustion, fire prevention, rescue and fire fighting, fire and rescue equipment, hazards and accidents, and organizations and titles in this field.
The difference between the standard language words and terms of languages for special purposes came up sometimes when compiling the vocabulary. The vocabulary contains quite a few such terms that are also ordinary words. These terms have a certain meaning in this field, but as standard language words their meaning not so strict. For example, fire fighting and extinguishment may refer to the same thing in the standard language, but in this special field fire fighting is a part of fire protection and it refers to an action in which a fire that causes or may cause damage is extinguished. Extinguishment is just putting out a fire, e.g. a candle may be extinguished even though its fire doesn't threaten to cause damage.
The Online Glossary of Customs Terms compiled in the Customs Terminology Project in 2002–2005 was published in November. This is the first time that Finnish customs terms are collected in one electronic database. The database is primarily meant for translators who work for customs and businesses involved in foreign trade. However, it is free-of-charge, public glossary on the Internet (http://www.customsglossary.net) available for anyone who is interested.
The aim of the project was to clarify the concepts and terms used in the Finnish customs and to gather and formulate English and Russian equivalents for them. The glossary consists of almost 500 customs concepts with text indexes which contain the terms in their natural context. The text index is an electronic collection of customs texts. All terms do not have text indexes because some source texts are not available in electronic format.
English equivalents have been mostly picked up from parallel English texts. It has been relatively easy to find corresponding customs texts since when talking about the Finnish customs system the question is often about all European Communities. It has been more difficult to find Russian equivalents since the Russian customs legislation was last amended in 2004 and the Finnish and Russian customs concept systems are very different. So far most of the Russian equivalents in the glossary are term suggestions.
A new terminology project will be started in the beginning of 2006. The purpose of that project is to update the customs glossary and to complement it with logistics terms. This Glossary of Logistics and Customs Terms will be published in the end of 2007. A parallel project to chart concepts in the Russian customs legislation and to find and create Finnish and English equivalents for them is also under discussion.
The World Wide Web is one of the most important innovations in information technology and forms the backbone of the information society. However, it is difficult to produce truly useful web services because the content of the current Internet is presented in a format which is meant for humans, not for machines.
To solve this problem the W3C coordinating the international development of the WWW has offered the semantic web. It can be understood as a contentual (meta)data layer that complements the current WWW. The presentation of information on the semantic web is based on exactly defined concept models and glossaries, so called ontologies, that are understandable to computers. With the help of ontologies, applications can utilise effectively each other's information and functionalities and offer human users better, more "intelligent" service.
The basic idea of ontologies is to define the meaning of a concept (a dog) or its individual (Lassie) with the help of the properties linked to it. An ontology forms a semantic web of concepts and their properties, and the meaning (semantics) of this web is described with logic. Typical properties are e.g. super and sub categories, part and whole relations, and the designation of a concept.
One central idea of the semantic web is to give each concept its own unique code called URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) which tells the unambiguous identifier of a piece of information and the position of its definition on the web. URIs help to distinguish the meanings of polysemic words. The markup languages used to describe the semantic web are usually RDF or OWL which offer versatile opportunities to present ontological glossaries and metadata based on them in a machine-understandable format.
The Finnish semantic web is built in the Finnish National Ontologies for the Semantic Web (FinnONTO) project. The Semantic Computing Research Group working in the Laboratory of Media Technology in the Helsinki University of Technology, in the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology and in the Department of Computer Science in the University of Helsinki is in charge of the project. Tekes, the National Technology Agency is the main financier of the project, and the work is also financed by 28 organizations and businesses. The University of Tampere and the TSK also participate in the project.
The FinnONTO project develops Finnish core ontologies that are meant to be used freely by all who need them. The aim of the project is to build a model based on the structure of the ontology and described relation types. The model should facilitate the building and combining of ontologies. The main idea is that the same ontological information can be used in different applications. One result of the project is the MuseumFinland system where the collection contents of different museums are combined into one virtual collection.
An essential part of the FinnONTO project is to build the Finnish General Ontology. It will be based on the Finnish General Thesaurus which contains about 23.000 index terms. A widely used thesaurus is a good starting point for building a general ontology but there is much work to do before the material is in a machine-understandable format. Central targets are developing a systematic (upper) category structure covering all concepts, differentiating the meaning of terms and making the concept relations of the thesaurus more exact so that there is no room for alternative interpretations. In this work the concept analysis methods established in terminology can be used.
A seminar on the forest terminology in Finland and Russia was organized in October in connection with the Finnish-Russian Forestry Dictionary Project. The first seminar day dealt with general terminology science and work, on the second day various view points on actual forest terminology were presented.
A dictionary focusing on forest economy and ecology is being compiled in the project. The importance of the dictionary can be well described by the fact that 23% of the wood needed by the Finnish forest industry is imported and major part of the import comes from Russia.
The dictionary covers 43 subject fields, e.g. forest and mire types, indicator plants, measurement of trees and forests, harvesting methods, forest economy, forest protection and recreational use. The dictionary contains definitions and explanations for Finnish concepts, Russian equivalents and information on the differences between Finnish and Russian concepts. The dictionary also has a Russian index and concept diagrams in both languages.
The Finnish editor-in-chief, professor Inkeri Vehmas-Lehto told about the history of the project and the difficulties of writing definitions. The project started in 1996 relying on master's theses made by students and a half-time coordinator. Since 2003 three terminologists have worked in the project, one all the time, others part of the time.
Andrey Filipchuk and Marina Nezhlukto from the All-Russian Research Institute of Forestry and Forestry Mechanization (VNIILM) presented the research and development of forest terms in Russia. They told that new terms appear all the time and often they originate from English. They are not necessarily adopted into the Russian language and their content is not properly defined. Definitions are important both for internal standardization in Russia and for booming international communication. Russia's forest economy is an important part of the world economy because of its vast proportion, e.g. 25% of the world's raw timber resources have concentrated in Russia.
Digital tv interests many Finns at the moment since tv broadcasts will be totally digital in Finland in August 2007. New technology will bring new concepts and strange terms. A terminology project on digital tv was started in September. The purpose is to compile a glossary that contains the most essential digital tv concepts and to ease communication in the field. The glossary is meant for ordinary tv viewers. It will contain about hundred concepts, definitions in Finnish and equivalents in Swedish and English. The glossary should be ready in the end of 2006.Nordic route terminology project
The Finnish Road Administration has commissioned a terminology project from the TSK. It is part of a larger Joint Nordic Construction Market project. The purpose is to compile a glossary covering concepts on Nordic markets and procurement procedures for a common term bank in order to ease international cooperation in the field and to agree on terms to be used in various Nordic countries. The glossary should be ready in summer 2006. It will contain terms in English and the Nordic languages.Cross-compliance concepts
Tike, the Information Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, has started a project to define about 50 concepts that relate to the cross-compliance of direct agricultural supports. The defined concepts will be used in creating an information system, and the terminology will also benefit communication in the field. In addition to definitions, recommendations on Finnish terms will be given, and Swedish and English equivalents are added.
The Swedish Centre for Terminology TNC has published a CD-ROM called TCN-term: en termbank från TCN. It contains about 45.600 term records. Swedish terms have been defined, and depending on material equivalents are given in Danish, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Norwegian and Spanish.Labour Market Glossary
The Labour Market Glossary, compiled by the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister's Office, has been published. It contains about 230 defined concepts dealing with government employer and human resources policy as well as about 140 other entry words. The glossary gives recommendations on Finnish and Swedish terms and translation recommendations in English, German and French. The definitions and notes are given in all these languages.New standards
The Finnish Standards Association SFS has published standards SFS-EN ISO 8388 Knitted fabrics. Types. Vocabulary, SFS-IEC/TR 62051-1 Electricity metering. Data exchange for meter reading, tariff and load control. Glossary of terms. Part 1: Terms related to data exchange with metering equipment using DLMS/COSEM and SFS-EN ISO 17659 Welding. Multilingual terms for welded joints with illustrations. The fabrics standard defines terms for industrially produced machine knitted fabrics. It contains the English text, its Finnish translation, equivalents in French and German and pictures on knitted fabrics. The electricity metering standard contains English terms and definitions and Finnish terms. The welding standard provides illustrations of welding terms and corresponding English, Finnish and German terms.
Detailed publisher and order information can be found in the Finnish article.