Summaries 2/2004

  • Miksi sanastotyötä tehdään? / Lena Jolkkonen

  • Ari Penttilä – kääntäjien ja tulkkien yhteistyöhenkinen puheenjohtaja / Tiina Holm

  • Erikoiskielet kehittävät suomen kieltä / Pirjo Hiidenmaa

  • Työsuojelusanaston uudistamishanke käynnistynyt / Lena Jolkkonen

  • Millainen on hyvä terminhallintaohjelma? / Igor Kudashev

  • ATK-sanakirja – mikä, miksi ja milloin? / Ilmari Pietarinen

  • Nimikkeistöt ja tesaurukset termilähteinä / Martti Tiula

  • Kirjallisuutta

    Why is terminology work done?

    The TSK has done terminology work for 30 years now. In TSK's publication series we have also reached the number 30, which means about one book per year. In addition to printed vocabularies, electronic publications are also important for the TSK. TEPA term bank was introduced in 1987, and in 1997 it could be searched via the Internet. Today the terminologies produced by the Finnish IT Group and Bank and Finance Terminology project are published only on the Internet.

    Although the publication forms and ways of carrying out terminology projects have changed during the TSK's history, the purpose of terminology work has not. Terminologies are needed exactly for the same reason today than 30 years ago. The purpose is to unify terms on a certain field and to make them understandable in order to improve communication. In some fields confusion in communication may be a matter of life and death, e.g. in fire and rescue services, whereas in others it may just cause harm and additional costs. The old truth on the significance of common terminology can still be the most important sales argument for terminology work. Although the terminology centre TSK develops and keeps up with the times, there is no need to change the basic principles.

    Ari Penttilä – Chairman of translators and interpreters

    Ari Penttilä, Chairman of the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters (SKTL), is one of the new members on the Board of Directors of Finnish Centre for Technical Terminology (TSK).

    Penttilä's career as a translator had a good start with the three-year translator education in Kouvola Language Institute in the 1970s. His first job as a translator was with STUK, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland, where he worked as a translator for six years. After that he worked in the English Centre translation company for seven years, and in 1993 he and his wife Sheryl Hinkkanen established their own translation agency, AS English Specialists Oy.

    Penttilä thinks that he is in his dream job. "The best part of the work is that you can constantly learn something new. The worst part is that the translator's work is often quite lonely, just sitting at the desk and staring at the screen." The manager of a small translation agency must do many things: to translate, answer inquiries and calls for tenders, manage administrative routines and sometimes even use the vacuum cleaner.

    This is Penttilä's second year as Chairman of the SKTL. The SKTL is a non-profit association which aims at improving the proficiency of its members, agreeing on common rules, following what happens in the field internationally and harmonizing the activities of the profession according to international guidelines. The SKTL has a social function as well. "The association is an important link between its members since independent work is typical for this profession", Penttilä says. The services offered by the association are e.g. counselling, models for translation contracts and confidentiality agreements, statistics on fees and small-scale training. The association also publishes a monthly newsletter called Kääntäjä–Översättaren (Translator). The association has some 1700 members.

    The projects in which the SKTL has participated recently include, e.g. a pan-European standard for translation services. Some European countries have their own national standards, but now the purpose is to adopt a common European model. Another important project is the World Congress of the International Federation of Translators, which will be organized in Tampere, Finland in August 2005.

    The SKTL has many challenges for the future. The wide diversity of the profession and the fact that things are getting more and more difficult and complex increase the challenge. "Limited resources also pose challenges and constraints for our work. However, it must be possible to invest in developing proficiency because increasingly high expectations are being placed on the profession and quality of work", Penttilä points out.

    Penttilä thinks that terminology plays an important role in translators' work; for this reason terminology should already be taken into account in translators' training. Term problems appear especially when the subject field of the text to be translated is not familiar to the translator. Translators, however, have more ways of retrieving information than before. The Internet has largely replaced the phone as the translator's primary source. Actual terminology work is done only occasionally in Penttilä's translation agency. Systematic collection of terminology would be more useful if the translations were on a more limited subject area. "For certain customers we have collected some word lists, and for some texts we use a translation memory program."

    The use of translation memories has become more common among translators, and many translation companies also require that their freelance translators use them. Translation memories facilitate translators' routine work, especially if there are many similar texts to be translated.

    The activities of the TSK have been familiar to Penttilä for a long time and from many contexts; therefore his seat on the TSK's Board of Directors seems very natural. "I got to know the TSK already in the 1980s when I took a basic course in terminology organized by the TSK. I have used term service a little, and Terminfo is a familiar newsletter. When I was asked if I wanted to stand as a candidate for the TSK Board of Directors, it was easy to agree - translators and interpreters are an important reference group for the TSK too", Penttilä recalls.

    Special languages and language development

    Finns are more educated than before: from the 1970s until today, the number of highly educated has doubled and the number of people without vocational education has halved. The obtaining of education and professional skills can be seen from the fact that the number, extent and use of languages for special purposes (LSP) have increased, and this is true for other Western societies as well. In every branch of activity expressions to describe things have to be searched for.

    It is a well-known fact that LSPs don't remain just LSPs, but terms and words slide into ordinary language use as subject fields become part of everyday knowledge. It is as well-known that LSPs do not develop just by themselves. Good terms and exact contents do not come up into a language for free and on their own. They are created consciously, meanings and expressions are agreed on and agreements are reported.

    LSPs do not remain on isolated islands, but an expert must be able to orientate in many types of linguistic terrain. Besides professional expressions, jargon forms will develop. Sometimes the expert must jump into a different way of expression when a client must be informed in familiar metaphors about something to which a professional would usually refer with one noun. Shifts from one language form to another and from one language to another are an essential part of text skills nowadays.

    Jobs have changed: information is produced by research, it is retrieved and applied. Information is also edited to different audiences, as articles, advertisements, memos. Writing and reading form an ever increasing part of work. In addition to writing skills, writers need skills to talk about texts as well as editing and summing up skills.

    We cannot afford to consider writing as romanticised creation where a writer brings forth a unique product of the mind in a state of inspiration. Texts related to work and study are products which must be written in time and fulfil the requirements set to them whether the writer gets inspiration to create or not. Neither can we afford to think writing as a mystified skill that some master and some don't. Writing is a skill that can be practised. A good text has properties that can be defined and described. We should also learn that writing is not merely the effort of an individual. Many texts are written in cooperation. Even when a writer works alone, he or she needs feedback and advice.

    Education – whether it be the comprehensive school, high school or higher education – cannot neglect the training of language skills, since the diversity of language is an essential part of our work nowadays. Every professional should be able to talk about his or her terms and texts. But in reality the native language is taught only few hours in the comprehensive school and high school. This means that the higher education institutions will get applicants of which only a part will manage the writing required in their studies and future work.

    Universities have decreased the training of writing. They offer courses in scientific English, which as such is good, but the essential basis of our information society, the Finnish language and its use in thinking and working, has received altogether too little attention. In the same way, it is not noticed that 90% of academically educated Finns work with the Finnish school, administration, research, communication or organizations.

    It has been realised in all Nordic countries that skills in the national language are no longer obvious after a student has read the exam books only in English for years and written essays and theses in English. There are subject fields which lack up-to-date Finnish terms. Internationalization does not need to lead up to the negligence of our own language; languages can be used side by side. A competent person can learn to change the language and language form many times during a work day.

    Language groups should be established in all kinds of work places, and their task should be to study how the texts in that work place function. The groups could think e.g. what kind of messages they convey, how much time is spent on compiling texts, and how language problems are solved.

    Vocabulary of occupational safety

    Työsuojelusanasto (TSK 7), published in 1985, will be revised. The Finnish Work Environment Fund has granted funding for the work. The vocabulary will contain about 500 concepts. It will give recommendations on Finnish and Swedish terms. Definitions will be written in Finnish and Swedish, which will support the requirements of the language legislation in Finland for both of our official languages. Term equivalents in English, German and French will be given. The vocabulary is meant for those who work for occupational health or otherwise come into contact with it. It will also be possible to use it in editorial work, translation, teaching, information retrieval and in international connections.

    The project will last for two years and the vocabulary will be published in 2006. The purpose is to ensure that the vocabulary will be used as widely as possible, because only if terms are used widely, their position can be established and communication can be influenced.

    As usual in the TSK's terminology project, this project will also have a project group consisting of subject field experts. There will be representatives from the following places: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate of Uusimaa, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and Centre for Industrial Safety.

    Properties of good terminology management programs

    Nowadays it is difficult to think of a terminology project without a terminology management program. Igor Kudashev has developed such a program for a Finnish–Russian forestry dictionary project and considers in his article what demands and requests there are for terminology management programs.

    The whole program and individual fields should be genuinely multilingual, and it should be possible to change the language in the middle of a field. It must be possible to emphasize different parts of the fields e.g. by italics, in the same way as in word processing programs, and to add pictures, concept diagrams and other graphic material.

    Another important issue is how freely the structure of a term record may be defined and changed. There are two extremes, databases which have a fixed term record structure and databases where it is possible to add new data categories and fields to term records limitlessly. Between these extremes there are programs that have basically a fixed term record structure but where fields allowed by database specifications may be added almost limitlessly.

    Although total freedom in adding data categories and fields sounds tempting, it has its problems. Dictionaries are very systematic by nature, and if the structure of term records can be changed freely, sooner or later the dictionary or term bank will become mishmash. Searching will become complex and compatibility will be limited. On the other hand, the fixed-structure programs are inflexible and impossible to modify. An optimal solution would be a database with a fixed structure which could be changed if necessary. The database administrator must be able to add new data categories and delete unnecessary ones, and define the order of fields and compatibility rules, e.g. if there is a reference, there must be something it refers to. This will ensure the unity of term records and prevent mistakes.

    One problem that is not solved in many current terminology management tools is the embedding of fields in other fields. This is needed e.g. when there is a need to mark the gender or number of a part of a term. It should also be possible to define what can be embedded in different fields.

    The user should be able to choose between a concept- and term-oriented approaches. Specially in multilingual terminology work concept-oriented approach is clearer and more practical, but it would not be right to exclude the term-oriented alternative.

    The terminology management program must be able to organize the terminology in a certain way. For a systematic terminology, it must be possible to tell the program in which order the term records should be seen and printed. Surprisingly enough, the alphabetical order is not quite easy. It is not always possible or practical to use country-specific settings, and the program developer cannot define the right order for all the languages of the world. Lexicographic work has also different alphabetical practices, and non-alphabetical special characters may cause hair to turn grey. The order of term records may be influenced by other fields, such as homonym indexes and parts of speech. Considering all this, it is wise to offer the user a possibility to define and edit the order specifications of term records.

    Browsing and search possibilities are an important part of a terminology management program. It should be possible to make searches in all fields and to combine search conditions. Advanced search, fuzzy search and search history are helpful. The basic search should be very fast, and it must be easy to browse and print search results.

    Term databases have always some administrative and temporary information that will not be shown in the final version of a glossary. This information should be marked e.g. with a certain colour, and the users should be given the choice of hiding these fields if they want to see the final layout of a term record. A terminology management program cannot be a professional drawing and publishing program at the same time, so it must be easily integrated and compatible with other applications. This is specially important in such projects where the purpose is to publish a printed version of a glossary. A terminology management program should enable the publishing of both a paper and an electronic glossary.

    A program must of course be stable and reliable. Making backups must be easy and preferably automatic. Usually many people participate in a terminology project, so the terminology management program must function via a network and be protected against outsiders. It must be possible to define access rights and user profiles strictly. There must be interblocking to prevent users adding and editing same term records simultaneously.

    Last but not least, is usability. The program must be well-documented and give guidance to users. The user should be able to customize the glossary and user interface. The program should handle all the mechanical work and let terminologists concentrate on producing the content. In other words, the terminology management program must adapt to the needs of users and the project, not the other way round, as it unfortunately still is in many cases.

    Dictionary of information processing

    The Finnish ATK-sanakirja, the Dictionary of Information Processing (IP), is probably the world's oldest regularly updated information technology dictionary. Since 1966, 15 editions have been published, first three under a different name.

    The purpose of the first edition was to serve the ordinary user. This meant that general concepts used in IP, terms needed by users and Finnish terms, when possible, were chosen in the dictionary. Since then the dictionary has got bigger in many respects. The first word list from 1966 contained 33 pages of English terms with Finnish equivalents. The 2003 edition consists of more than 700 pages that contain ca 4000 terms in eight languages, more than 3000 definitions in Finnish, about 100 diagrams and illustrations and thousands of cross-references between terms. The other languages included are French, Swedish, German, Spanish, Estonian and Russian.

    In the 1960s and 1970s the Finnish neologisms created by the editorial board were usually widely accepted. Although slang was used in the spoken language, in written presentations terms recommended in the dictionary were used, and this way the recommendations shifted to the spoken language as well. In the 1980s it was not so easy to get Finnish terms accepted. When PCs became common, the number of users grew enormously, and the dictionary reached only part of them. The majority probably learnt their language from hurriedly translated installation and user manuals. There were also competing dictionaries on the market, and all compilers were not always so strict in what they included in their dictionaries.

    The dominance of the English language, American English in particular, makes many speakers and writers forget the words of their native language and to use unnecessary Anglicisms also in other fields than IT. Specially at risk are journalists who hurriedly translate articles for tomorrow's papers which in turn jeopardise the readers' sense of language.

    ATK-sanakirja is a dictionary, but besides definitions it also offers additional information and examples. It also creates background with lots of references and diagrams. There are three types of references: upwards to broader IT concepts or standard language words, horizontally to related words, antonyms or otherwise comparable words and downwards to more specific terms. Diagrams also show connections and interdependencies between concepts from different viewpoints.

    About half of the dictionary is taken up by the definition part where there are terms and definitions in Finnish, terms in other languages, diagrams and cross-references. The other half consists of seven word lists from the other languages into Finnish. There are paper, CD disk and web-based versions of the dictionary. Extracts from the book, e.g. the French–Swedish word list, can be found on the web portal of the Finnish Information Processing Association

    Nomenclatures and thesauruses as term sources

    When looking for term information, one has to consult many different sources. Terminologies made in cooperation between terminologists and subject field experts are of course the best, but there are hardly ever enough of them. Other systematic word lists, like nomenclatures and thesauruses, collected by experts must be resorted to.

    Nomenclatures are compiled for different branches of business and companies to form the common base for technical and economical documentation, so that e.g. cost accounting, product specification or division of tasks would be unambiguous. Typical for nomenclatures is that there is no remainder: every item corresponds to its heading as perfectly as possible, and the items cover the whole subject field from the chosen point of view so that all concepts are included. Items do not overlap either – no concept can belong to more than one item.

    When nomenclatures are used as term sources, it should be remembered that they are compiled for a certain, strictly defined use and from a viewpoint required by the use. A good example is the customs nomenclature the viewpoint of which is foreign trade. The starting point of tariff items seems to be the material of which the subject of duty is made.

    The purpose of thesauruses is to group index terms so that the information seeker can find search terms that are sufficiently descriptive for his or her needs. When nomenclatures are usually compiled from one viewpoint dictated by the use, thesauruses, however, are multihierarchical and the same concept can be included in many microhierarchies.

    Usually thesauruses do not contain definitions but instead the mutual hierarchy of concepts is conveyed by references to broader, narrower or parallel terms. Definitions are partly replaced by a short reference to the point of view according to which the search terms are given, e.g. doors by material, doors by structure.

    It is advisable that compilers of normative terminologies take into account nomenclatures and thesauruses, since terms in them correspond to generally known concepts and are used widely. It is also desirable that compilers of nomenclatures and thesauruses stay in contact with terminologists and that they try to harmonize their ideas about the hierarchies of terms and the corresponding concepts.


    Information security in public administration
    The Finnish Ministry of Finance has published a third version of Valtionhallinnon tietoturvakäsitteistö, information security concepts in public administration. The terminology contains about 1000 concepts with definitions in Finnish and terms in Finnish and English. The purpose is to unify the information security terms of public administration and with Finnish terms to help understand the ever increasing information security problems and risks. The terminology can be found on

    PC pocket book
    Hannu Jaakohuhta's PC-sanakirja, PC dictionary, has been published as a pocket book. It is based on Jaakohuhta's IT encyclopedia and it contains 7000 terms. The subject fields include e.g. programming, telecommunication and electronics, and the entry words are classified into 27 subclasses to clarify the field of application of terms. The terms are given mainly in Finnish and English, but there are also a few French terms.

    Safety of machinery

    The Finnish Standards Association SFS has published the standard SFS-EN ISO 12100-1 Safety of machinery. Basic concepts, general principles for design. Part 1: Basic terminology, methodology. The standard contains terms and definitions in Finnish and English. There is also an index which contains terms in English, Finnish, German and French.