Summaries 1/2003

  • Näköalapaikalla / Lena Jolkkonen

  • Arto Leinonen – perusinsinööristä markkinoinnin osaajaksi / Johanna Suomalainen

  • Aika kuluu, substanssi muuttuu – mitä tekee terminologi? Tapaus Valtioneuvostosanasto / Riina Kosunen

  • Houdini – apua tiedonhakuun / Katri Seppälä

  • Kääntäjän ammattikuva / Heli Miettinen

  • Kirjallisuutta

    On a vantage point

    TSK has always offered its expertise to all who have needed it and thus profiled itself as a neutral body, a national terminology centre, which keeps an eye on what happens in the field of terminology in Finland.

    In Finland special field glossaries are compiled by many various people and organizations using many various methods. Many glossary makers contact TSK in some phase of their work. We are pleased because this gives us a unique opportunity to participate or to watch how glossaries on different special fields are created. Many of those who contact TSK for the first time are actually surprised that there is a body which has specialized in terminology work. It is also new to many that there are methods for terminology work, even standardized ones. Many glossary makers find out that it is often more labourious to compile a glossary than originally estimated. TSK’s terminologists can give good hints how to carry on the work.

    The Nordterm conference will be held again this year on 11th–14th June in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. Nordterm 2003 is open to anyone interested in terminological issues. More information and registration on

    Arto Leinonen

    TSK’s board of directors gained more expertise in language technology and marketing when Arto Leinonen, director of Kielikone Oy started his term of office in the board. TSK’s activities are not strange to him since TSK and Kielikone have cooperated for many years.

    Leinonen thinks that is important both for Kielikone and TSK to concentrate on their core competence. "The existing know-how must be exploited to produce new products." As the other members of TSK’s board, he considers it essential to make TSK better known and to increase the marketing of products and services. Networking is an important part of marketing and with cooperation networks the marketing of TSK’s terminology projects may be directed correctly.

    Leinonen became Kielikone’s director two years ago. Kielikone is a Finnish language engineering company, which has its origin in the Kielikone project, a Finnish language processing research project funded by SITRA in the beginning of the 1980s. Morfo spelling checker was created in the project and Kielikone company was founded in 1987 to take care of product conceptualization and product development.

    Machine translation was also studied in the project and TranSmart machine translation software was developed. At the same time a Finnish language synonym dictionary and Finnish–English dictionary were collected. Electronic dictionaries became soon a significant business sector for Kielikone. The company continued its own dictionary work and started to licence dictionary contents from different publishers.

    According to Leinonen, Kielikone is the most commercial of Finnish language technology companies. It invests both in product development and marketing. The best known of Kielikone’s products is MOT dictionary software. In MOT, it is possible to access a large variety of dictionaries, terminologies and user’s own vocabularies through one user interface. MOT contains both general and specialist dictionaries in 21 languages.

    Kielikone introduced a version of MOT applied to the Nokia Communicator mobile phone about a year ago. When travelling, large and heavy dictionaries are not taken along, but Kielikone provided its customers a solution which enables the use of dictionaries in one’s phone.

    Kielikone can be considered as the pioneer in machine translation (MT) in Finland. In MT a computer program analyses the source text and produces a target language translation automatically. "In many cases the draft translation is sufficient for understanding the text, but when necessary, it is easy and fast to edit a final translation from the draft. The software translates best text which is clear and grammatically correct, e.g. user manuals and technical documentation" says Leinonen. At the moment TranSmart translates from Finnish into English. In the future the purpose is to introduce software translating from English into Finnish, too. "MT programs will never replace human translators because it is impossible to create a perfect system that could be trusted to translate correctly" says Leinonen.

    At the moment Kielikone participates in the Benedict project which aims at developing a new intelligent dictionary program and content for it. The project is financed by the EU, and the aim is that the Benedict dictionary program should offer its users a personalised interactive user interface to electronic dictionaries. Different users should find the information they require easily and quickly, since the dictionaries can be tailored for the basic user as well as for language professionals. In addition to traditional dictionary information the program will offer a possibility to study the use of words in the context of the program’s text files or other information related to entry words.

    Leinonen believes that the role of language technology will become bigger with internationalization. "Companies must make sure that they are capable of global action. In the future this will mean e.g. investments in translation and terminology work. Creation of company-specific terminology is already increasing, and terminology projects concentrating on a certain line of business will definitely increase in future." Transfer from company-specific projects to line-of-business-specific projects will also provide a clear economic benefit. "Naturally each individual company will have to invest less, when they are a part of a bigger entity in a terminology project."

    Glossary on the Finnish Government

    Riina Kosunen, terminologist and project secretary at the Government Terminology Service of the Prime Minister's Office, writes about the revision of the Glossary on the Finnish Government. This glossary was first published in 1992 and revised in 1998. The need to revise it again was clearly realised in 2000 when Finland's new constitutional act came into force: many central concepts changed with this important act. In addition, when the renewal of the Government Act was started in 2001, the revision of the glossary became imperative since the regulations of this act influence the content of many concepts related to the government.

    The route of a law from drafting phase to the final passing of a bill is long, and the new bill is to be passed by Parliament – and to have its final form and content – only by the end of February 2003. For the glossary project the renewal of the Government Act has meant uncertain times, since the working and source material of the glossary is in a constant state of change.

    A special strain for the glossary project is also caused by the parliamentary elections to be held in March 2003 after which a new government will be formed. It is quite possible that in next April the government will have new ministers whose titles can be only guessed for the present.

    The timing of a glossary project in the swirl of substance changes is a complex question. If it is decided that the project will be carried out at the same time when substance changes are made, this will cause additional risks for the project: the project may be delayed if the substance changes, e.g. the completion of a bill, are delayed. Alternative definitions and concept systems have to be prepared in order to cover different possibilities. And if the Finnish material changes after it has already been translated, the translators have to do extra work to correct the translations. On the other hand, if a glossary project would be started only after relevant substance changes have been made, those who need the glossary, like translators, would have to wait for the results painfully long.

    The ideal moment for starting a glossary project may perhaps be decided only after the project has been completed and it can be studied with hindsight. Time goes by, the substance of a glossary lives and concepts change. The terminologist cannot stop this development. His or her role is to adapt, apply, try, maybe to make mistakes – and hopefully learn about this all.

    Houdini – help for information retrieval

    Houdini (Human-Oriented User-Driven Interactive Navigational Interface) is a research project coordinated by the University of Tampere. The project started a year ago and its purpose is to develop a new semantic analysis method and an information retrieval (IR) interface based on this method applicable to different textual databases.

    Today’s information society offers enormous amount of information to us. Despite that IR methods and devices have also developed with the increase of information supply, it is often difficult and time-consuming to find the required information. Problems may be caused e.g. by grouping of contents or product classification that is unknown to the user. If a search word is common, current IR systems often produce too many hits. On the other hand, a search will not produce any hits if the user does not know the exact term used in a text although the information is available.

    The objective of the first phase of the Houdini project is to develop a semantic analysis method and to evaluate the tools that support and facilitate the analysis. An analysis model has been developed by combining elements from systematic terminological concept analysis and frame semantics analysis.

    The Houdini method can be applied to various textual databases such as web sites or electric user manuals and guides. The analysis starts by collecting essential concepts and analysing the content of these concepts. Unlike raditional terminological concept analysis in which only essential, delimiting characteristics are stated in definitions and only preferred terms are usually accepted, Houdini tries to utilize as many characteristics and different designations of concepts as possible.

    A thorough analysis, whether concept or frame semantics, requires quite a lot of time, therefore instruments are needed to fasten the work and to save costs. Although it is obvious that analyses may not be made fully automatic, making of an analysis can be facilitated with proper tools. Support is needed e.g. for extracting terms and automatic parsing of parts of speech and syntax analysis. Current tools do not seem to support semantic analysis and coding enough, but it is believed that a program based on Houdini’s semantic frames can be built upon the current tools.

    Translator's occupational profile

    Visiting lecturers presented their work in a lecture series "Translator's occupational profile" in the University of Helsinki last autumn. The themes were e.g. teaching of translation and translation of nonfiction and TV programmes.

    Science journalist Risto Varteva told about his 30-year career as a translator of nonfiction. According to him there is no big difference between the translation of fiction and nonfiction: they both require similar skills from a translator. In the translation of nonfiction the special field and terminology used in the field must be studied, but the translation of fiction also requires a lot of background work and checking of facts.

    Ismo Leppänen brought up term problems which translators often encounter – especially if the field is new and there is no Finnish terminology or it is not established. Where to seek help when the translator is among the first to create Finnish terminology for some special field? Leppänen mentioned TSK and the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland, and above all emphasized the importance of expert contacts.

    Anneli Miljard lectured on TV translation which is a part of audiovisual translation, a field where both picture and sound are connected to a translation. Because of the nature of this work, a TV translator's work is continuously scrutinized and criticized by the general public.

    A TV translation always differs from the original. The translator sums up spoken texts so that the core content remains the same. Lines must be clear, unambiguous and easily understandable, because there is not much time to read them and it is not possible to return to them as to other written texts.

    Most of Finnish TV translations are subtitles. Narratives are compiled mostly for nature, science and culture programmes, but dubbing is used very little in Finland, mainly just for children's animated films.

    According to Aulis Rantanen, who teaches translation in the Department of Translation Studies at the University of Helsinki, difficulties – or an interesting bonus – for a translator's work are caused by cultural differences and varying styles related to language use and ways of expression in different languages. The way of presenting the same thing in various cultures and languages may differ greatly. In some languages, like Japan, Arabic and Italian, the core subject requires a lot of "filling", words are used e.g. for tone or other decoration purposes. The opposite for these languages are languages, such as German, Scandinavian languages and Finnish, were the factual content is emphasized and everything else is easily considered as meaningless verbiage.

    Almost every speaker emphasized the importance of checking background information. Facts have to be precise, correct terms and names must be used. A translator must not be careless or make guesses. He or she must also take care of his or her mother tongue. A translator's work is very versatile. It is challenging but rewarding.


    PROF Business & Technology
    PROF Tekniikan ja kaupan sanakirja, dictionary of business and technology, is published by Gummerus in two volumes, Finnish-English and English-Finnish. Both volumes contain over 75 000 entry words in more than 100 special fields. PROF is aimed at the general public, and such terms are chosen that are used widely in a special field and which laypersons may also encounter. The special field(s) to which an entry word belongs to have been written after the word either in full or as an understandable abbreviation. The entries do not include cross references but each entry lists all possible synonyms.

    Five Language Visual Dictionary
    Viiden kielen kuvasanakirja published by Karisto contains more than 6000 words and plenty of pictures. The dictionary has been divided into different themes, like home, work, sports, environment, food and transport. The basic vocabulary of each theme is given in English, French, German, Spanish and Finnish. Words in different languages have been combined with pictures illustrating the words. Each language has its own index at the back of the book.

    SFS standards

    The Finnish Standards Association SFS has published standards SFS-EN 13622 Gas welding equipment. Terminology. Terms used for gas welding equipment, SFS-EN ISO 4921 Knitting. Basic concepts. Vocabulary and SFS-ISO 14050 Environmental management. Vocabulary and approved them as national standards. The gas standard contains Finnish, English and German terms and definitions. The knitting standard contains Finnish and English terms and definitions and French and German terms, and the environmental one Finnish and English terms and definitions.