Summaries 2/2003

  • Gemensamt – Yhteistä / Lena Jolkkonen

  • Anita Nuopponen – terminologista tutkimusta ja kieltenopiskelua / Johanna Suomalainen

  • Palontorjuntasanaston uudistamishanke on alkanut / Sirpa Suhonen

  • Franchising ja tv-sovitin – näkökulmia termityöhön / Reetta Salmi

  • Mitä kortteja suomalaisilla on lompakoissaan? Vilka kort har finländarna i sina plånböcker ? / Lena Jolkkonen & Mari Suhonen

  • Lääketieteen termit / Walter Nienstedt

  • Sosiaalityön sanasto  – yleispäteviä määritelmiä arvosidonnaisista käsitteistä? / Mari Suhonen

    Something in common

    First we would like to congratulate Mikael Reuter, the chairman of TSK's board of directors, for his 60th birthday on the 17 of May. A symposium to honour this day was organized both for Reuter and Eivor Sommardahl (celebrating his 50th birthday). Both of them are accomplished Swedish-speaking linguists and experts in language planning in Finland.

    Terminology and language planning have certainly common goals in Finland and other Nordic countries. This is the situation since the threat of not being able to communicate in one's mother tongue in some subject fields is a reality and common concern both for terminologists and language planners. Their competence is different, but they complement each other.

    TSK's spring meeting was organized in April. We had the pleasure to publish our renewed web site. More information has been added and the structure of the site has been made more simple. We hope our site will serve our users even better from now on

    Anita Nuopponen – terminology researcher and language student

    Anita Nuopponen, Senior Assistant of Applied Linguistics at the University of Vaasa, has made pioneer work in terminological research in Finland. Her master’s thesis in the beginning of the 1980s was the first one in the field of terminology. It dealt with the concepts and designations of letters of credit. Nuopponen says that sometimes the work was quite tiring, because terminology as a science was quite new in Finland. She had to create Swedish terminology for the terminology field, since concepts were unestablished and there was no Swedish literature on the theory of terminology. Her licentiate thesis on concept systems for terminological analysis was completed in 1988, and the same theme continued in her doctoral thesis, also the first one in this field in Finland, published in 1994.

    Nuopponen is interested in the conceptual side of the theory of terminology, especially concept analysis and possibilities of benefiting from it. In her thesis she also studied concept relations and different ways to analyse and classify special subject field concepts and terms.

    The University of Vaasa is the only university in Finland which offers a minor subject study module on terminology science and technical communication. The teaching of terminology was started in 1988, largely thanks to Christer Laurén and Nuopponen. "Because the degree programme for translators already then emphasized modern languages and languages for special purposes (LSP), it was considered necessary to complement language studies with studies of LSP and terminology in addition to general linguistics" says Nuopponen. Nowadays terminology science is a part of communication studies and it has been combined with technical communication as a minor subject study module.

    Nuopponen’s interest in languages and cultures has increased with language studies and travelling. "Languages fascinate me as means of communication and as intermediaries of cultures."

    In the beginning of 1980s Nuopponen worked as a researcher both in the University of Vaasa and in TSK. "In the field of terminology, theory and practice have largely cooperated and benefited each other. Research has provided new methods for practical terminology work and practice has pointed new problems for research to solve."

    The researcher’s job changed in the middle of 1990s when she became the head of the Department of Communication Studies. Nuopponen supervises master’s theses in communication studies and especially theses on multimedia and network communication. "The work is rewarding but demanding. When days are spent with students in creating ideas for master’s theses and methods, it seems that there are not enough ideas for own research." In the summer Nuopponen hopes to have time for her own research work on such a terminological method that would be suitable for several subject fields.

    Nuopponen exploits the opportunities offered by the Internet in many ways in her work. In addition to courses on the Net, she maintains the popular Terminology Forum site on the Internet ( This site is in English and contains a lot of information on terminology and links to electrical glossaries and dictionaries on different special fields. In her free time Nuopponen reads, studies Japanese and travels.

    Revision of fire protection vocabulary

    Palontorjuntasanasto, the fire protection vocabulary, was published in 1984, almost twenty years ago. During that time a lot has happened – statutes have been changed and fire appliances have developed – so the need to revise the vocabulary was obvious. It has been discussed years ago that the vocabulary should be revised, but now the revision project has finally started.

    The purpose of the project is to compile an up-to-date fire protection vocabulary that defines the concepts and gives recommendations on Finnish terms. The vocabulary will contain about 700 concepts. Concepts will be defined in Finnish and term equivalents will be given in Swedish, English, German and Russian. The extent and languages will be the same as in the old book, but naturally outdated material will be discarded and new subject fields will be added. The revision project started this spring and the new vocabulary should be ready in the spring 2005.

    It will be interesting to decide what subject fields should be included in the new vocabulary. Nowadays fire brigades do a lot more that just extinguish fires. In addition to fire fighting and rescue, fire brigades participate in the prevention of fires and other accidents, take care of the transportation of patients and giving first aid. Nowadays informing and the prevention of all accidents are emphasized more than before, therefore the vocabulary should be easy to understand also by others than fire experts in order to be useful when giving information and instructions.

    Internationality and cooperation between countries have become more important in many branches, and fire and rescue services make no exception. One important aim of the new vocabulary is to be a suitable tool in international cooperation – to be used in translation work or in writing texts in foreign languages.

    When the vocabulary is ready, it will be input in TSK’s public term bank. It will probably be printed as a book and perhaps published in an electronic format, too.

    Viewpoints to terminology work

    Today information and talking about it create power and status. In our rapturously advertised information society everyone should be able to use correct terms. So I may change an amused and a slightly condescending smile with an optician when I notice a middle-aged woman fingering titanium frames and asking what such Titanics might cost.

    Demonstrating education and forming an intellectual elite are not, however, the fundamental reasons for agreeing on terms and their use. In special field communication it is vital to use common and acceptable terms. Who would like to wait for a wound to be stitched when a doctor and a nurse are trying to understand each other?

    Terms are not born by themselves, they are created. Terms are often invented there where new concepts are, and they are not always created by experts in the Finnish language or terminology work. Taru Kolehmainen from the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland and Sirpa Suhonen from TSK talked about terms and creation of terms in TSK’s spring meeting.

    It is not very often that the Research Institute invents terms, but during the years it has created many terms for the standard language. One example is crème fraiche which became ranskankerma in Finnish, literally French cream. Kolehmainen reminded that the general public is the final terminology group which approves or disapproves term suggestions whether they come from an official organization or commercial markets.

    Suhonen considered in her presentation when a new term is needed. A new concept needs a designation, and in international subject fields loan words must be replaced by Finnish ones when the concepts become known in Finland. Sometimes it may be reasonable to change an existing term if it is clearly bad, obsolete or misleading. Therefore today we rather talk about psychiatric hospitals than lunatic asylums. Sometimes a term may be unsuitable for a certain language, e.g. it may be difficult to inflect. It may also be possible that the concept or the whole concept system changes, and so it is necessary to change the term(s) too.

    It can also be considered when it is not necessary to create a new term. There is no need to create a new term when a Finnish term already exists, or when the concept is common to several special fields and a term exists in some of these fields. And if a term is already established, it is usually fruitless to change it.

    A good term is transparent (reflects the underlying concept), consistent with other terms in the same concept system, neutral (does not give harmful associations), easily distinguished from other terms, short, suitable for the formation of derivatives, easy to use (to spell and pronounce).

    The fast development of information technology and its spreading to all population groups has generated a need to create common Finnish terms. New technologies and services are launched on the market as quickly as possible, and the importance of terminology work may be forgotten. A suitable term is often considered only after the concept is widely known.

    The aim of terminology work is not to eliminate the richness of a language, but to advance undisturbed and efficient communication. Although many official bodies would give recommendations, it is not certain that a term will be established and used by the general public. In the end, language users in their everyday activities either accept or discard term recommendations. It is, however, important that there are organizations in Finland that do terminology work. Successful and efficient terminology work facilitates the development of special fields, diminishes the costs of misunderstandings and promotes equality between different social groups.

    What cards do Finns have in their wallets?

    Banks and other credit institutions issue all kinds of cards but what concepts actually lie behind those names? When the analysing of cards was started in the bank and finance terminology project, quite a jungle of terms and concepts were found. This confusion is caused at least by the fact that cards are referred to in various ways in the language use of experts working with the cards, in marketing and in the standard language.

    In this vocabulary the card concepts are defined by the number of card functions, type of function, cardholder and the structure of a card. When the card concepts were analysed, it was found out that nowadays most of the cards are combination cards which include characteristics of many different card types. A combination card may function as an automated teller card, a bank card, credit card and cash card. It seems that in the future the use of different functions will become even more versatile. The same card or other instrument will have the possibility to combine the functions of credit institutions and also quite different functions, e.g. functions related to municipal services.

    The bank and finance terminology is published on the Internet. Terms are given mainly in Swedish and Finnish; English and possibly German and Norwegian terms will be added as the project continues. Definitions and explanations are given mainly in Swedish.

    Medical terms

    The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim has long traditions of compiling glossaries and dictionaries. The principal reason for founding the society in 1881 was to create and develop the Finnish language and Finnish terminology in medicine.

    The first dictionaries of medicine were based on the Swedish language and provided Finnish equivalents for Swedish terms. In the 1920s Swedish entry words were replaced by Latin and German. After the wars, English was added to Duodecim’s dictionaries.

    In the 1980s the society decided to compile a dictionary that would explain medical terms. The result of this major project, the first edition of Lääketieteen termit (Medical terms), was published in 1992, and after that new editions have been published in 1997, 1999 and 2002. Each new edition has been revised and enlarged – the first edition had 450 pages and in the fourth edition the number of pages has almost doubled.

    Duodecim has a terminology committee which is in charge of the terminology work. The committee consists of about ten experts, half of them are doctors and half are experts of the Finnish language. The editorial work of dictionaries is continuous. After one edition has been published, the drafting of a new one has been started immediately.

    The degree of establishment of Finnish medical expressions varies a lot. Established Finnish terms become more rare, when anatomical, diagnostic etc. terms become more detailed. Nowadays new concepts, like diseases, are usually given English names (such as SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome), and it may take long before a suitable and acceptable Finnish term is found.

    Latin, the old main language of medicine, is gradually losing its status. It is not really used for instruments or new laboratory methods or newly discovered diseases. However, Latin is still used a lot e.g. in anatomy. Terminologica Anatomica lists even the smallest details of human organs in Latin. In addition, Latin is still used in the names of "old" diseases.

    Entries in Lääketieteen termit dictionary usually contain the Finnish main entry word, Latin, English and Swedish equivalents, etymological information, synonyms and a short definition or explanation for the main entry word. Entries may also contain the special field(s) the entry word is connected to and references to other entries in the dictionary.

    Vocabulary of social work

    Since the concepts related to social work have been unclear, TSK and STAKES, the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health, have compiled a small vocabulary of social work containing 25 term records in Finnish.

    It was quite challenging to define the concepts of social work. From the terminologist’s viewpoint it is difficult to write definitions for social work concepts because the terms look like standard language words and because the concepts are so basic, abstract and bound to values. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize a term because it appears to be so self-explanatory. The concepts of social science are usually very abstract, and people understand them from their own viewpoints. How is it possible to make a universal definition that describes all the objects included in the extension of concept for a concept that is closely related to the values and appreciation of an individual? In this type of vocabulary, it seems to be especially important to choose some point of view from which definitions are written.

    It was decided in this project that the term social work refers to two concepts: social work as a professional activity and social work as a discipline. Social work (1) is defined as "professional activity which aims at the well-being of individuals and communities as well as preventing, reducing and eliminating of social problems". Social work (2) is defined as "discipline which studies social problems and develops social work (1) and methods of social work and which is used to educate social workers".

    The vocabularies of STAKES have been published on the web address