Summaries 1/1998

  • EMU-sanastoa / Olli Nykänen

  • Ympäristösanasto – suuri haaste sanaston laatijalle / Virpi Kalliokuusi

  • Tekniikan termipankista yleiseen suomalaiseen termipankkiin / Olli Nykänen

  • Kirjallisuutta

  • Termiharava

    EMU vocabulary

    The Finnish parliament will soon decide whether Finland will join the third stage of the EMU, the Economic and Monetary Union. This question, like the EU membership, has aroused a lot of discussion for and against. TSK publishes now a vocabulary of the central EMU concepts. It is not meant to be either for or against the EMU, but to help those people who wish to use correct terms.

    Sometimes the language used in the media and even in official documents has been rather confusing. It has been difficult for an ordinary citizen to get a clear picture of what is included in the EMU decision, partly due to political and "euro-minded" phraseology. This vocabulary aims at giving a clear and consistent description of the concepts. The vocabulary comprises 37 terms and definitions in Finnish with equivalents in Swedish, English, German and French.

    The vocabulary is based on EMU-related documents of an official nature. A lot of them were found on the Internet; e.g. the Web site of the European Commission proved very useful.

    The challenges of making the Environment Vocabulary

    TSK's newest vocabulary, the Environment Vocabulary (TSK 27), has been quite a challenge to all those who have participated in compiling it. The subject was very interesting because it belongs to specialist knowledge and the everyday use of all language speakers at the same time. Therefore the limitation and interpretation of the concepts and designations were often more complex than in the field of technology.

    Many difficult basic concepts like ympäristö (environment), luonto (nature) and luonnonympäristö (natural environment) had to be tackled in order to provide a basis for the other concepts in the vocabulary. Luonto was considered a part of a human's environment and luonnonsuojelu (nature conservation) was seen as a part of ympäristönsuojelu (environmental protection). The relationship between these concepts has not always been understood in the same way in Finland as can be seen in the legislation.

    Interesting and problematic concepts in the Environment Vocabulary were also ympäristövaikutus (environmental impact), ympäristöhaitta (nuisance), ympäristökuormitus (load) and ympäristöongelma (problem). There is a conceptual difference between them, e.g. environmental impact may be positive or negative whereas environmental nuisance is a negative quality. The concept of ympäristövahinko (environmental damage) could not be dealt with by definitions used earlier in insurance terminology. In the end it was decided that environmental damage could be either an intentional (crimes) or unintentional (accidents) case of damage or its result.

    The opinions of language experts and environment experts differed sometimes greatly when discussing what Finnish terms are suitable and recommendable. It was not trivial to know when a word becomes a term. The internationally approved definition of the concept term ("verbal designation of a general concept in a specific subject field") does not say what morphological conditions a term should fulfil. Some people considered that the status of a term should be given only to such an expression that is one short word including only certain types of derivatives. Thus multi-word terms, like ympäristönsuojelun tason arviointi (environmental performance evaluation), would not be terms! On the other hand, some people thought that terms are especially words of foreign origin, like biosfääri (biosphere). Sometimes other than actual linguistic reasons affected the suitability of terms: some terms were considered negative, some poetic.

    TEPA became a part of a "general Finnish termbank"

    TSK's termbank TEPA has been available on the World Wide Web since November 1997 (see Terminfo 4/97). However, the Web interface for TEPA is only a part of a larger reform in TSK's termbank activities. Three years ago TSK started a project to establish a general Finnish termbank ("STEP") with the financial help of the Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry. The STEP project was completed in the end of 1997.

    TEPA was originally called a "technical termbank". And indeed, its material consisted mainly of vocabularies in the various fields of technology and engineering. But in the 1990's, many terminologies of other special fields were also entered in TEPA. However, the updating strategy of TEPA was rather passive, partly due to some inconveniences of technical nature.

    Now TSK is taking a more active role in the field of termbank maintenance. One of the results of the STEP project is an internal termbank including all the data found in TEPA, but also a considerable amount of other material. A new Finnish program called TermIt, developed by Kielikone Oy, is used to facilitate active updating of the terminological files.

    Together, the public TEPA and TSK's internal, non-public termbank make up a new "general Finnish termbank". In addition, a third element is formed by TSK's other services, which make terminologies available to the public, e.g. the term service and vocabulary publications.

    The next step after STEP is Nordterm-Net, a project for developing a joint Nordic termbank service on the Web. It is partly financed by the MLIS (Multilingual Information Society) programme of the European Commission. However, such a service does not automatically dispense with a Finnish national termbank. The Nordic termbank hardly offers as good possibilities for active maintenance of the data as the TermIt application already used by TSK. TEPA is not probably threatened either, because it will continue to offer the easiest way for the Finnish public to access relevant terminology.


    From now on, Terminfo addresses current and problematic terms in a new column, "Termiharava" (Termwatch). It differs from its predecessor, "Termipalvelusta poimittua" (Term service), because the topics are not necessarily chosen from the questions received by TSK's term service, but from other sources as well. You are welcome to send suggestions about terms that could be dealt with in Termwatch (

    In terminology, it is sometimes necessary to distinguish between different types of equivalents. A group of Finnish terminologists discussed recently the Finnish terms to be used in this connection. It was decided that vastine (equivalent) is to be used for a generic concept while termivastine (term equivalent) and käännösvastine ("translation equivalent") refer to its subordinate concepts.

    Multimedia is called multimedia in Finnish, too. Other suggestions, e.g. moniviestin and monimedia, have not been approved widely enough by experts.

    Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, has been talking about "a digital nervous system". The Finnish translation digitaalinen hermojärjestelmä was soon widely known among the professional circles. However, it does not necessarily refer to a distinct concept, but perhaps to a vague idea, not very easily specified. TSK will wait and see what happens.


    Environment Vocabulary (TSK 27)
    The Environment Vocabulary compiled by TSK was completed in the end of 1997 and is now published by Gummerus. The vocabulary includes about 300 concepts with Finnish definitions and equivalents in English, Swedish, German and French.

    Nordterm '97 proceedings
    The speeches and meeting reports of Nordterm '97, held in Kautokeino in June last year, have been collected into a proceedings book. It is an up-to-date report of the Nordic terminology work with articles written in Swedish, Norwegian or Danish.

    Road Transport Telematics
    This is a joint Nordic publication including over 200 concepts in the field of road transport telematics. A separate edition has been published in four Nordic countries. The Finnish edition includes terms and definitions in English, Finnish and Swedish, term equivalents also in Danish and Norwegian. The purpose of the vocabulary is to create a basis for Nordic consensus in the field and to harmonize the English terminology used in international communications.