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Terminfo 2/2009

Terminfo

Sisältö / Contents:




The world changes — terminology work evolves

Although the basic principles of terminology work have remained unchanged, the methods and tools have been developed over the years. Today, the use of information technology has become an everyday routine for most people, and it is used not only as a tool in terminology work, but also as a channel in publishing new terminological material, such as the Swedish Rikstermbanken, the National terminology bank, which has been opened recently.

Information technology affects terminology work besides offering tools and publishing channels. Nowadays, terminology work is needed to support the development of new information systems, and new information solutions often need their own vocabularies, as well. Therefore, TSK has started a new terminology project on Web 2.0.

The future of terminology work will be discussed in the fall in TSK's 35th anniversary seminar. But before that it is time for the summer and holidays. We hope that all our readers have a nice summer!



Kristiina Kaski — versatile publishing professional

Kristiina Kaski works as the marketing manager of Teknova Publishers, which is owned by the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries. Since 2008, she has participated in the work of the Finnish Terminology Centre as a member of the board of directors.

Kaski has been the marketing manager in Teknova Publishers since 1998 after receiving an MBA degree. Teknova Publishers focuses on publishing professional literature on business and technology development, but in recent years they have expanded into organizing seminars and courses as well as offering online material. The goal is to provide information to the member companies of the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries, and thereby help them develop their competitive strength.

Despite her title, Kaski takes part in every phase of a publication project, not only marketing. In fact, her work is the work of an editor, which used to be her dream profession. Kaski’s work includes many different sorts of tasks, and therefore it is not easy to portray an average day at work. Besides taking part in ongoing publication projects, Kaski also negotiates for future projects, updates Teknova’s web pages, and participates in meetings concerning the projects and those having to do with the development of the organization.

In her work, Kaski does not take part in actual terminology work, even though the publication projects usually contain deliberation on concepts. Instead, she describes herself to be more of a vocabulary user, who can appreciate professionally made vocabularies. Kaski has also noticed that a publication project is much more likely to succeed if all the necessary concepts are defined together at the start.

Kaski sees TSK as a centre of terminological competence in Finland. She is especially pleased to see that TSK has ventured into new areas by participating in ontology projects. In her opinion, the skill to make ontologies will bring the Finnish Terminology Centre special competence, which is otherwise hard to come by. Also, Kaski believes that this competence will make TSK better known internationally.



National term bank for Swedish terms opened

On March 19th, a new special language resource was published in Sweden: the National term bank, Rikstermbanken. It is available on the Internet free of charge, and it contains vocabularies from hundreds of special fields. On opening, Rikstermbanken included a bit over 50 000 entries and some 250 000 terms. The terms are mostly in Swedish, but there are also terms in some of Sweden’s minority languages as well as in Finnish, English, French, German, and Russian. Rikstermbanken was developed by the Swedish Centre for Terminology, Terminologicentrum TNC, and funded by the Swedish Ministry for Industry, Employment and Communications.

When the work for Rikstermbanken started in 2006, the goal was, and is even today, to include as many special fields as possible. Therefore, Rikstermbanken holds vocabularies from major special fields such as economy, health service, law, and technology, but also from smaller fields such as cheese manufacturing and music ethnology.

Rikstermbanken includes three main types of vocabulary collections: terminological dictionaries from TNC and the Finnish TSK, a large number of vocabularies from Swedish public authorities and organizations, and a selection of terms and definitions from texts of laws, regulations, and Swedish Government Official Reports. TNC developed a new software for Rikstermbanken with the help of open software and the inspiration from IATE and other term banks, such as Eurotermbank, the Finnish TEPA, and the French FranceTerme.

TNC has new visions of how Rikstermbanken could be developed further, but no matter what happens with those visions, Rikstermbanken is already today an important tool for many different groups of society. Rikstermbanken is used by public authorities and special field experts as well as students, journalists, and translators, but it is also an abundant source of information to all citizens.

The better collection of specific special field vocabularies we have and the easier we have access to them, the easier it is to find understanding for the value of terminological work. Because of Rikstermbanken, terminological work has already started to interest people from many different areas of life, and hopefully, Rikstermbanken will also raise terminological awareness in the society.



Where terms live

Variation is one of the most typical characteristics of language. Everything varies in language: phonemes, forms, words, sentences, genres, as well as the language of individuals and societies. Therefore, there is no single form of Finnish, but it has many faces. We can imagine language as being a long continuum, with its ends differing a great deal from each other, but different parts of the continuum overlapping at the same time. For example, the Finnish spoken language has much in common with the standard language, but also a lot of differing features, and the line between the two language forms is often very vague.

Similarly, the standard language and special languages are on a continuum of the same language, and the line between standard language vocabulary and special language terms is not concrete. Even though terms belong clearly to a certain special language, there are plenty of terms that are not only part of special languages, but are everybody’s linguistic property. Vocabulary from special languages seeps into the standard language all the time. The line between a special language and standard language emerges where a term is so specific that it has no use in the lives of ordinary people, but is only needed by an expert or a researcher of the field in question.

Around the time when this issue of Terminfo comes out, a new plan of action for the Finnish language will be published. This plan of action emphasizes the importance of continuous development of Finnish terminology in all areas of life. The Finnish Terminology Centre TSK does everything in its power to further this cause. The government should make sure that terminology work is given the necessary resources. But it is the responsibility of the whole language community to maintain a place for Finnish terms to live in, be it in the Finnish standard language or special languages.



Perspectives of concept analysis

Concept analysis forms the core of terminological research and terminology work, but it is also used as a method in scientific research outside terminology. Anita Nuopponen, assistant professor in Applied Linguistics, has studied what methods different disciplines have developed in order to analyze concepts focusing on economics.

In terminology, concept analysis is an essential part of a terminology project. It is used for analyzing and depicting concepts within a certain area or subject matter. In scientific research, concept analysis is a part of the research process; it is either seen as a research method in its own right, or as a part of all research methods. In economics, the term interpretive concept research is sometimes used for concept analysis, especially when it is seen as a method in organizational and management research. The difference between this type of interpretive concept research and terminological concept analysis is that it moves beyond the study of concepts and takes a stand on the phenomenon of social reality behind the concept.

The two methods of concept analysis — the one used in terminology and the one used in economics — both have the same core: analyzing the data gathered from the concepts and clarifying their characteristics and relations in order to form a system or systems of concepts as well as definitions for a certain subject field. However, the two methods also have differences, and by combining the two we can outline a systematic model for hermeneutically progressing analysis.



Introducing technical communication

Technical communication is not a very well known profession, and it seems to get mixed up rather easily with other fields, such as translation. Technical writers pass on the information about an appliance or service from the designer to different users in a form that "ordinary people" can understand. The products that technical writers work with are many: manuals for a washing machine, illustration for the quick-start guides of MP3 players, instructions for assembling an elevator or a weather station, and so on. The actual information product itself may also come in different forms, ranging from concrete paper manuals to more abstract instructions found on the Internet. Therefore, knowing the end user and understanding where and how the information product will be used is an essential part of a technical writer’s competence.

Terminology and accurate use of language have been a part of technical communication from the start. It is nearly impossible to make new appliances or provide new services without analyzing new features and without controlling the names given to them.

Even today the basic skills in technical communication are valued: good technical writing and illustration. However, we face the future with, for instance, Agile and social media. Agile is a method used in software development projects, where the work is divided into short periods of one to four weeks. In Agile projects, direct communication between colleagues is valued more than written documents or reports, and therefore the technical writer should be able to join in the software engineers’ team from early on.

Social media is seen as a new channel for publishing information products. The best-known representatives of social media include discussion forums, wiki pages and blogs as well as services like Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. These can also be used in technical communication. For example, a technical writer could act as the company representative on the company’s online discussion forum by answering the users’ questions and providing help for the problems they have encountered. Web pages like Wikipedia could be used to publish instructions, and different tutorial videos could be published on YouTube.

It is difficult to see the future of technical communication. Hopefully, though, with social media and other new undertakings, technical communication will become a trend profession, well known even to those outside the field.



Vocabulary and terminology project of geoinformatics as research subjects

Mari Junkkari studied the birth process of a systematically compiled special field vocabulary in her pro gradu thesis, completed in 2009. On the one hand, she described how terminology work should be conducted according to the principles of systematical terminology work in order to accomplish a quality vocabulary. On the other hand, she compared these principles to the birth process of Vocabulary of Geoinformatics as a case study.

The terminology project for geoinformatics was carried out according to the principles and methods of systematical terminology work, which are generally adhered to at TSK. Therefore, there were not many problems related to methodology. There did occur, however, organizational problems as well as terminological problems. The organizational problems had to do with the execution of the project, such as difficulties with timetables. The terminological problems had to do with the actual content of the vocabulary, that is, difficulties related to compiling systems of concepts, defining concepts, and choosing equivalents.

One terminological problem was choosing the recommended Finnish terms and forming new ones. Geoinformatics is a relatively new field, and at least in 2004, many of the terms used in Finnish texts were in English. There were either no Finnish equivalents to the terms, or they were used inconsistently.

Terminological projects and vocabularies are rarely studied scientifically. However, Junkkari believes it could be useful to document the decisions and solutions — as well as the reasoning behind them — that are made during the project. This would facilitate the updating of the vocabulary.

In her doctoral thesis, Junkkari plans to find out if the recommended Finnish terms of the Vocabulary of Geoinformatics have become established in the language of the subject field. She also plans to create a theoretical model that can be used to study the use, effectiveness, and usefulness of special field vocabularies. From a social point of view, it would give valuable information especially to those carrying out terminology work or working with special field languages if the establishment of new term recommendations and the usefulness and effectiveness of vocabularies were studied.



Using the Internet changes — Web 2.0 terminology project starts

The way we use the Internet and web services has changed over the past few years. Previously, information on the Web was produced mainly by corporations, governmental organizations, and few private individuals, and the role of the public was to use that information. Now, the ones consuming information have also become the ones producing information. There are many ways to take part in information production, such as sharing information on web services like Facebook, keeping a blog, publishing photographs on services like Flickr, or commenting interesting pieces of news.

It has become common to refer to web services like these with the term Web 2.0. However, the term holds a different meaning to different actors: producing content and services collectively; new methods in information technology, such as web-based programming; or perhaps new models of electronic business.

A terminology project has been started in order to clarify the concepts of Web 2.0. The goal of the project is to define about 60 concepts, which are given Finnish definitions and recommended terms, as well as English and Swedish equivalents. The terminologist in the Web 2.0 project is Riina Kosunen, and the subject matter organizations include DNA, Elisa, Eniro, Finnet, Nokia, TeliaSonera, and the Finnish Communications Regulation Authority. The Web 2.0 project is planned to be completed by the beginning of 2010. The vocabulary will be published online and it will also be added to TSK’s TEPA term bank.



Literature


Handbook on Swedish as a second language

Handbok i svenska som andraspråk by Claes Garlén and Gunlög Sundberg is a new kind of reference book for those using Swedish as a second language. It gives plenty of examples, advice and guidelines for communication in different situations. The book consists of two parts: The first is a handbook that presents important text types and gives concrete examples for different communication situations. The second part is an alphabetized reference book that deals with some common difficulties in using Swedish as a second language.

Finnish–Norwegian–Finnish dictionary

Suomi–norja–suomi-sanakirja by Henna-Maiju Askim was published last fall, and it contains over 100 000 entries and phrases from standard language, as well as some special field terms and spoken language vocabulary. The dictionary also includes a short grammar of both Finnish and Norwegian, and a list of countries and nationalities in both languages. The dictionary is quite comprehensive, and is therefore suited best for work and study, but it is helpful for other usage, as well.

Vocabulary of clinical nursing

Kliinisen hoitotyön englanti–suomi-sanasto by Kristiina Hyrkäs and Paula Nieminen covers the procedures and instruments of clinical nursing. The vocabulary is useful in international education of the field, in health care evaluation, and in patient work. It also includes essential abbreviations and some standard language words. The vocabulary is designed to support evidence-based nursing, and the compiling of recommendations based on evidence-based nursing. However, the vocabulary is also suited for anyone in need of Finnish and English terminology in clinical nursing.

Standard for electric heaters and electric heating systems

The Finnish Standard Association SFS has published a second edition on standard SFS 2711 Sähkölämmittimet ja lämmitysjärjestelmät. Käsitteet ja merkinnät. In addition to vocabulary concerning electric heaters and electric heating systems, the standard also contains vocabulary on heat pumps, the heating of structural components, and the control of heating systems. The standard gives Finnish and English terms for the concepts, as well as Finnish definitions.

Detailed publisher and order information can be found in the Finnish article.