Results of terminology work should be accessible for everyone

The Finnish Terminology Centre TSK participates in the Bank of Finnish Terminology in Arts and Sciences project, which was started in the beginning of 2011. In the seminar organized by the project the importance of logical use of terminology on all specialist fields was emphasized. Defining the central concepts and advising on the correct use of terminology should be included in the education on every field. This would increase the understanding of the impact of term choices and improve the development of terminology on native language.

Emergence of new actors who are ready to work for wider accessibility of the results of terminology work on various sciences is always delightful. It is important that the results of terminology work are made centrally accessible regardless of the context or premiss of the work. Otherwise the work would be pointless.

Carita Bjon – information specialist interested in terminology

Carita Bjon has worked as an information specialist for Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, since 1992. At the moment she acts as the project coordinator for Kela’s terminology project, which was initiated by Kela and the Finnish Terminology Centre in 2007.

Bjon majored in mathematics at the Åbo Akademi University with information science as her minor subject. As a mathematician Bjon was fascinated by the data retrieval systems, which are all based on mathematical equations. In the end information science proved to be so interesting she graduated with a degree in it.

After finishing her studies Bjon applied for a temporary post in Kela’s information service, which later turned permanent. In 2006 she was asked to participate in a working group that intended to develop the data management of electronic documents related to social and health security. The working group initiated a terminology project which aims to compile both a terminological vocabulary and a thesaurus of social security conducted by Kela in order to improve the cooperation of Kela and its partners. Bjon became the coordinator for the project.

Kela’s terminology work was started in 2007. The first part of the vocabulary, which includes concepts related to health, was published in 2010. The project is planned to continue a few more years, as several central concepts related to benefits are not yet covered in the vocabulary. Bjon says the scale of the project is much larger than the working group initially imagined. This is also one of the biggest challenges of her work as a coordinator: there are various subject fields to cover, which means that the specialist groups in the project change frequently. Bjon participates even in the JHS terminology process, which aims to improve the interoperability of the data systems of different authorities. In the future Bjon hopes to see more cooperation on interoperability also between Kela and other authorities; many of Kela’s concepts are used widely, not only within the organization.

During Kela’s terminology project Bjon has gotten better acquinted with terminology work and the Terminology Centre’s operation. Lately she has been especially interested in cooperation possibilities between information specialists and terminologists, who according to Bjon both analyze data in their work. Ontology work could be a possible field for cooperation, since constructing an ontology requires knowledge of both terminological and information retrieval principles.

Carita Bjon’s home language is Swedish, and even though she now speaks Finnish fluently, she says she didn’t learn the language properly before she started working at Kela. Her wish to learn to use Finnish in everyday situations was one reason she wanted to work at Kela in the first place. Under the years Bjon has grown more tolerant for her own struggles in using languages other than her own native Swedish. She has realized that since she doesn’t expect flawless Swedish from non-native speakers she shouldn’t demand immaculate Finnish from herself either. Bjon says a year spent in Germany with her family taught her to be less critical of her language skills, and she wants to encourage others to boldly speak and write foreign languages: that opens new windows to the world.

The Swedish Centre for Terminology TNC: 70 years of terminology work

The technical achievements of the early 20th century had a significant impact on vocabulary. However, the new terms were not created according to any certain principle and were thus inconsistent. In the mid-1930s the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences wanted to improve the managing of the increasing amount of technical terms. One of the main actors was electrical engineer John Wennerberg from the Swedish industry company ASEA.

A nomenclature committee with the purpose of monitoring the use of the technical terminology was founded in 1936, and in 1941 it got a more permanent form and was named as Tekniska nomenklaturcentralen TNC (The Swedish Centre for Technical Terminology). John Wennerberg, who became the first director of TNC, described the theoretical basis for the practical work early on. He also had connections to another electrical engineer, an Austrian called Eugen Wüster, who had presented a terminological theory in his dissertation in 1931.

In its early years TNC’s operation included recommending terms and suggesting neologisms. TNC cooperated actively with the Swedish Academy in term construction, and consulted specialists from different fields when the work was related to the concepts behind the terms. TNC also compiled several terminologies of different technical fields. Compiling terminologies was usually assigned by the representatives of a certain field of technology, though at times TNC itself took the initiative for compiling a certain terminology. In the 1970s and 80s the focus of the terminology work changed from traditional technologies to nuclear and space technologies as well as working environment.

Sweden became a member of the European Union in 1995. For TNC that has meant several assignments with the focus on finding the Swedish equivalents for terms in English, French or German. Thereby a new, translation-oriented terminology work has been developed.

Making terminologies accessible to the public and promoting the use of new terms has always been a central concern for TNC. Partly for this reason TNC has long been interested in computer-based working methods. Termdok data system was developed to promote the availability of terminologies, and in 2009 TNC introduced Sweden’s national term bank Rikstermbanken, which further improves the accessibility of terminologies.

For the whole 70 years of TNC’s history the central idea has been the same: to define concepts of a certain field and then choose appropriate terms for them. Continuity has been an essential part of TNC’s work, equally as openness to new technologies and development of terminology work. Together with the Swedish Centre for Terminology TNC, Rikstermbanken and language legislation Sweden has a good terminological infrastructure.

On ontology work

The amount of information available today, especially online, is vast. That makes searching for information more challenging. Knowing the right search terms is essential for fast information retrieval, and here ontologies can be extremely helpful. The aim of ontology work is to help to find information by the means of information technology.

The basis for the building of the Finnish Ontology for Business has been the will to improve the possibilities of public actors so that in future they could provide electronic services and information in a more understandable and easy-to-find form. Even though the ontology has recently been published the work is not finished. Making services electronic, constructing portals and developing new client transactions make the need for commonly shared terms all the more important.

It matters what words we use and how we use them. Through their own word choices everyone is responsible for intelligibility of electronic services. Thus terminology work should be integrated in all development work.

Teamwork is crucial in all ontology and terminology projects. A beginner joining an ontology project sees at first nothing but a jumble of concepts. But little by little, by a careful preparation for meetings and a skilled terminologist in the project team make even the beginner to see the entity better. Ontology work is nothing to be afraid of; instead it’s a new possibility.

Domestication and foreignization as tools for creating equivalents

Domestication and foreignization are familiar concepts in translation studies. Domestication means replacing the foreign elements in the source text with features familiar to the target culture, whereas foreignization means retaining the foreign elements also in the target text. The concepts are fairly unknown in terminological context yet can be claimed to be relevant for searching the target language equivalents for the source language terms. In terminological sense domestication can mean creating terms which fit into the system of the target language, whereas foreignization can mean that new terms include foreign or unknown elements. Terminologies in Finland are primarily constructed in Finnish, and a terminologist could choose to leave out a concept unknown to the Finnish culture. It is however likely that users of the terminology need a Finnish equivalent even to those concepts which are foreign in Finland. Therefore terminology which does not include equivalents in all languages can not be considered thoroughly compiled.

There are both foreignizing and domesticating methods for term construction. Foreignizing methods include formal equivalents, such as foreign loan words and calques. There are arguments for using foreignized equivalents: they extend the vocabulary, improve international communication and are often thought to be more specific than equivalents in target language. Borrowed terms also fulfil some of the requirements for a good term, since they are often short and clearly distinguishable from other target language terms. They do, however, lack two utterly important features of a good term: their meaning is not transferred for speakers of the target language, and their transparency is poor. At worst borrowed terms become false friends, which do not improve but hinder communication.

There are several arguments for domesticating methods to be used when constructing terms. Domesticated terms have many features of a good term. Domesticating methods include descriptive and functional equivalents. When a term is formed by combining words of the target text, they tend to be transparent, exact and logical. They are also easier to pronounce, write and inflect according to the grammar rules of the target language.

Successful communication has priority in special languages, and choosing between foreignized and domesticated equivalents is seldom a conscious choice. The problems related to the foreignized equivalents – such as lack of transparency and difficulties in spelling – however increase the need for target language terms. The target of terminology work is to improve communication within special fields, and those who compile terminologies are in a key role to realize this improvement. Thus it can be well argued that terminologies should strive to offer well-considered domesticated equivalents.

Terminology of education

The Ministry of Education and Culture initiated the terminology project on education in August 2010. The project is a part of a preliminary study for the Online service system for learners, which aims to provide services that support seeking education, studying, organizing teaching and education as well as career planning. The online services will be part of the implementation of the eServices and eDemocracy project (SADe) coordinated by the Ministry of Finance. Representatives from the Finnish National Board of Education, the Ministry of Education and Culture, North Karelia Adult Education Centre and the University of Turku participated in the terminology work.

The first draft of the terminology of education was completed in January 2011. It contains approximately 240 concepts related to the online services for learners, of which 111 concepts are analysed with the methods for systematic terminology work. The terms and definitions are given in Finnish, and the equivalents in Swedish will be added at a later date.

The terminology project for education was a pilot project in national terminology work. The work group both tested the performance of the national terminology process described in the JHS 175 Development process of the terminology in the public administration recommendation and was the pilot user for the electronic equipment designed for the process. This caused for some challenges as the work group had to consider which concepts are common to all fields of public administration and which are related to education in particular.

Päivi Kouki

The purpose of the terminology work on education is primarily to promote the compatibility of information management systems. However the terminology work has also a wider impact. A cohesive and intelligible vocabulary improves the communication between both humans and computers. The resulted vocabulary will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Information Management in Public Administration JUHTA, and it’s meant to be used widely in the education field. The terminology project will continue with the recommendations on central concepts and their definitions.

New terminology and ontology projects


Several new terminology and ontology projects were started in the Terminology Centre in early 2011. The new projects represent various fields: broadband, real estate business, environmental health care and different aspects of working life.

The broadband vocabulary is targeted at consumers and aims to facilitate, for example, the comparing of different services. The vocabulary project intends to define 60 broadband concepts and give terms and equivalents in Finnish, Swedish and English. The work with the broadband vocabulary has been conducted from the beginning of 2011 as a part of the Centre’s long-term IT terminology project. It will continue as a separately funded project and is planned to be completed by the end of the year.

The Vocabulary of Real Estate Business was first published in 2001. It will now be updated due to, for instance, changes in legislation. Approximately a hundred concepts will be revised and updated, and 30-50 new concepts will be added to the vocabulary, which is targeted at the actors on the estate field. The updated vocabulary will include term recommendations in Finnish and equivalents in English, as well as definitions in Finnish and English. The project will be finished by the end of 2011.

The Terminology Centre published YHTI 1 vocabulary (Vocabulary of the Register of the Objects of Control of Environmental Health Care – Objects of Control) in 2009. The vocabulary included concepts necessary to the developing of data system for the control of environmental health care. YHTI 1 will now be extended with YHTI 2 project, which was initiated in January 2011 by the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health Valvira and Finnish Safety and Chemical Agency Tukes. In YHTI 2 project further concepts required for the developing of the data system will be added to the existing vocabulary.

The Terminology Centre received an ontology assignment from the Finnish Work Environment Fund in February 2011. The work will consist of adding the index terms from the projects funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund to the Ontology on Health Promotion (TERO). Adding the index terms to an existing ontology will clarify the differences and similarities in the concepts of adjacent fields and also help to avoid overlapping work. The ontology is planned to be completed in early 2012.

Changes in financial transaction concepts

The consumers have lately become acquainted with new phenomena related to financial transactions. At the same time many everyday activities related to payments have also been renamed. The most notable of these are probably connected with payment cards, which underwent a transformation along with introduction of the single euro payments area SEPA and the SEPA card. Another need for updating terms rises from the new payment services legislation which came into effect in May 2010 and repealed the old Account transfer act (821/1999).

SEPA card is a chip card which enables payments and withdrawals directly from the user’s account everywhere in the euro payment area without extra costs. The card is deemed more secure and inexpensive for the user than the previous cards. The disadvantage of the renewal is the renaming of the features of SEPA card; debit and credit deviate from the familiar terms of the Finnish bank card, and moreover the terms are not Finnish. On the other hand these terms will be used throughout the entire Europe. The Bank and Finance Terminology project team considered the Finnish and Swedish term recommendations at length, but in the end unambiguous terms in Finnish were not found. The vocabulary now contains a few synonyms for the concepts.

The updating of the payment vocabulary in the Bank and Finance Terminology will continue, and new and updated terms and definitions will be published on the project’s website later this year.


Welding and allied processes
The Finnish Standards Association SFS has published the standard SFS-EN ISO 4063 Welding and allied processes. Nomenclature of processes and reference numbers in Finnish. The standard contains 157 concepts with terms in Finnish, English and German. The designations for welding and allied processes commonly used in the USA are given together with corresponding ISO 4063 reference numbers in an annex to the standard.

Gas cylinders
The Finnish Standards Association SFS has published a new edition of the standard SFS-EN ISO 10286 Gas cylinders. Terminology in Finnish. The standard contains 386 concepts with terms in Finnish, English, French and German, many of which are illustrated with drawings. Two annexes to the standard contain pressure system definitions for gas cylinders and definitions related to gases in Finnish and English.

International electrotechnical vocabulary
The Finnish Standards Association SFS has published the standard SFS-IEC 60050-732 International electrotechnical vocabulary. Part 732: Computer network technology in Finnish. The standard contains 148 concepts with terms in Finnish, Swedish, English, German and French, as well as definitions in English.

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