Summaries 3/2001

  • Ajatuksia menneeltä kesältä / Lena Jolkkonen

  • Sirpa Kuusisto-Niemi – sanastojen tilaaja ja käyttäjä / Johanna Suomalainen

  • Nordterm 2001 / Katri Seppälä, Mari Suhonen & Johanna Suomalainen

  • Tuomioistuintermejä viidellä kielellä / Kaisa Kuhmonen

  • Terminologi for tekstil og konfeksjon / Anneke Askeland

  • Kirjallisuutta

    Thoughts from last summer

    Last summer two important events on terminology and languages for special purposes were organized in Finland. The Nordterm 2001 conference was arranged by TSK in Tuusula in June and the 13th European Symposium on Language for special Purposes by the University of Vaasa in August.

    For us in TSK, Nordterm 2001 was the main event of last summer, since we were responsible for organizing it. After a great amount of preliminary work, it was very rewarding that everything succeeded well and the days were fruitful. We received mainly positive feedback, and everyone found something new and inspiring in the presentations.

    There were almost 100 participants during the Nordterm conference, and all Nordic languages had their representatives, including Sámi, Faroese and Greenlandic. This was financially facilitated by the Nordic Language Council's participation in conference arrangements. This time an Estonian representative was also invited to join Nordic cooperation and to give a presentation in the conference (see Ülle Männart's article).

    Sirpa Kuusisto-Niemi – user and subscriber of vocabularies

    Sirpa Kuusisto-Niemi works as a Senior Adviser in the Centre of Excellence for Information and Communication Technology (OSKE) in STAKES, the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health. She has been a member of TSK's board of directors since 1999. However, she has worked with TSK already since 1994, when the joint terminology projects of STAKES and TSK were started.

    Kuusisto-Niemi says that the board of directors is constantly contemplating about what is important and relevant just now, and aims to direct TSK's activities accordingly. She feels that TSK should have public funding, because language must be developed actively and its natural development must be directed. "Taking care of one's language is a part of the activities of a civilized state."

    In STAKES terminology work was started in 1993. A large customer and patient document project gave an impetus for this work, because there was a need to define concepts that were common to social welfare and health care for information systems. The aim of doing terminology work in this area is to harmonize concepts and this way to make language use unambiguous.

    TSK's basic process of terminology work has been adjusted for STAKES. "The work in social welfare and health care differs from the traditional terminology work. For example, it is often difficult to find written sources. Therefore there has to be many meetings, and different viewpoints have to be reconciled."

    The first vocabulary published by OSKE in 1997 comprises two parts: customer and patient document vocabulary with 148 concepts and quality vocabulary with 22 concepts. A vocabulary on concepts in social welfare and health care for designing information systems (61 concepts) was published in 1999. A report on the concept analysis for Satakunta macro pilot programme has also been published in 1999.

    At the moment OSKE and TSK are preparing a vocabulary which will contain about 40 concepts related to the service chain in social welfare and health care. This vocabulary should be completed this autumn. Later, a new terminology project on social work will be started.

    Nordterm 2001

    Nordterm, a Nordic terminology forum, has gathered together every second year since 1976. This year it was TSK's turn to organize the Nordterm conference in Finland. The conference consisted of a course in terminology work, a terminology symposium, the Nordterm Assembly and meetings of working groups.

    The conference started with a basic course in terminology work. The teachers were Anita Nuopponen and Nina Pilke from the University of Vaasa.

    Mikael Reuter, the chair of TSK's board of directors, opened the conference. One of the themes he mentioned in his opening speech was how the globalization of science and research effects language. Reuter was very concerned that languages loose their fields of application when the mother tongue is not used anymore in certain special fields. This means that no terms will be created in the mother tongue. According to Reuter terminologists play a key role in solving this problem in the future.

    One of the most interesting presentations in the symposium was Ülle Männart's talk Terminology management in the translation environment: Estonian experience. Her article is on pages 16–18 of this Terminfo issue. Männart was followed by Anita Nuopponen and Nina Pilke (see Terminfo 2/2001) who discussed terminology from the viewpoint of research. Inkeri Vehmas-Lehto and Päivi Pasanen, then, presented a Finnish–Russian forestry dictionary project (see Terminfo 4/2000).

    Riitta Brelih from the Finnish Government Terminology Service told about the translation work in public administration. A work group was established in 1996 to investigate the translation of public administration texts, especially the Finnish statutes, into foreign languages. The study showed that translation work in administration was very dispersed and often same texts were translated in different places. There were also problems with the coherence of terminology.

    To solve the problems two databases were established, one reference and one document database which may be found at The reference database should make sure that no text is translated more than once. The database has information on finished translations and statutes that are being translated. The document database contains the translated statute texts in full. A term work group was also established to give recommendations on terminology and phraseology.

    Håvard Hjulstad, director of the Norwegian Council for Technical Terminology (RTT), talked about the technical committee 37 of the International Organization for Standardization. The present name of ISO/TC 37 is Terminology and other language resources. The purpose of ISO/TC 37 is to standardize principles, methods and applications in terminology and fields closely related to terminology. It has published 13 standards. One of the newest is ISO 704:2000 Terminology work – principles and methods which is one of the basic standards useful in all terminology work.

    In 1999 Helena Palm discussed her plans to establish a network working with terminology of molecular biology and biotechnology. The Joint Group for Swedish Life Sciences Terminology ( has now worked for two years, and Palm informed Nordterm about her experiences so far. Palm was very pleased that the term recommendations made by the Group had reached people, but nevertheless, it had been difficult to find sponsors for the project. Many organizations understand the importance of the work, but think that someone else should pay for it.

    Palm discussed how to employ terminological principles in a field that is international and develops rapidly. Very often an equivalent is asked for a term, or a term suggestion, and the answer should be given as soon as possible. In such a case there is not enough time or any possibility to study the concept system behind the concept very deeply, but the answer must often be given based on a mere scratch on the surface.

    After Palm, professor of microbiology Karin Carlson from the Uppsala University shared her experiences on the language situation in natural sciences. She became interested in terminology about four years ago when she noticed that the researchers and students in natural sciences communicated more and more in English. According to her this was a direct consequence of the fact that textbooks and most of the teaching on the university level were in English. New concepts and terms for these concepts are created all the time in the field. The Swedish terminology does not keep up with the rapid development and this forces people to use English.

    There have been attempts to influence this alarming language situation by replacing some of the teaching in English by teaching in Swedish in the Uppsala university. A project to improve the verbal and writing skills of students has also been started this year.

    Åsa Holmér (TNC, Sweden), Katri Seppälä (TSK, Finland), Annemette Ruding (DANTERMcentret, Denmark) and Audun Lona (RTT, Norway) presented the harmonisation of information technology terms in these four Nordic countries.

    Holmér told about the beginning of the project in Sweden and the work of the Joint Group for Swedish Computer Technology. The concepts and terms in the IT branch are renewed so fast that a new way of working with terminology has been applied instead of traditional project work. The material is published little by little and only in electronic form ( In addition to this, the scope and duration of the project are not strictly defined, and both the target group and group of participants are larger than usual.

    This model created by Swedes proved to be very good, and it has been applied in other countries as well. Seppälä, then, talked about the Finnish Group for IT Terminology, and stated that the model has worked well in Finland, too (

    In spring 2000 a similar project was started in Denmark. Ruding, coordinator of the Danish project, said that their intention is to create home pages for the project and that the first recommendations on IT terms will be published on the web pages of the Danish Language Board during this summer (

    Lona presented the Norwegian project and mentioned that their ways of working are quite similar to those in Sweden and Finland (

    In the last day of the conference a Nordterm Assembly was organized. First, Anna-Lena Bucher told about the history of Nordterm (see Terminfo 2/2001). Then Bucher and Virpi Kalliokuusi, a former TSK's terminologist and present publishing manager of Gummerus, discussed the strategies of terminology centres. Lastly, the Nordic terminology centres and other organizations working with terminology gave their presentations. The next Nordterm conference will be organized in Sweden in 2003.

    After the official part of the Nordterm conference there was an excursion to the homes of two Finnish artists, Pekka Halonen and Jean Sibelius, in Tuusula. And since the Nordterm organization was founded 25 years ago, there was a banquet to celebrate the anniversary on Saturday evening – an excellent way to end the conference.

    Court terms in five languages

    In the beginning of 2000 the Finnish Ministry of Justice and the Prime Minister's Office started a terminology project with the aim of producing a multilingual glossary of court terms with definitions. The reasons for starting the project were procedural reforms and structural changes to the Finnish court system and the increase of international communication between courts. As a result the Glossary of Court Terms was compiled. The glossary gives equivalents and definitions for over 200 most important concepts related to court work in Finland. The languages used are Finnish, Swedish, English, German and French.

    The project work was organized between a steering group, language groups and terminologist Kaisa Kuhmonen, the project secretary. The tasks of the steering group were to manage the project, to decide on the delimitation of the glossary, to define concepts in Finnish and Swedish, to assign the language groups and to approve the work of these groups. The tasks of the language groups were to choose foreign equivalents for terms and to translate definitions and other texts of the glossary. The project secretary took care of, for example, analysing concept systems, preparing preliminary definitions for the steering group, organizing comments rounds and preparing the glossary for publication.

    After the concepts had been chosen and defined, the Finnish version was sent to a comments round e.g. to the Ministry of Justice, courts and universities. Some changes were made based on these comments, and after that the language groups started their work. When these groups had finished, the glossary was sent for a second round for comments in order to have feedback on the different language versions. After this round, the language groups met and agreed on certain common guidelines. After some hectic work, the final version was sent to a publisher.

    It is always a challenging task to write a fluent definition based on terminological principles. In the case of the Glossary of Court Terms, the task was even more challenging because of the diversity of the target group: the glossary is meant both for experts and lay persons. Because experts in this case are jurists, they are familiar with the very detailed definitions of texts of agreements and statutes, and they may consider terminological definitions too general. For the lay persons using the glossary such terms that are familiar to the jurists but unknown to non-experts had to be discarded from the definitions.

    Many concepts used in court work are also used in the general language (like expert or defer), but their intension is much narrower in the legal language. In this project it was decided that these concepts are defined from the viewpoint of this special field in order to serve better the users of this particular glossary.

    Translations of definitions were included so that the glossary would be useful for the speakers of other languages, too. This presented some problems, because the translations should also take into account the principles of terminological definitions, e.g. references to superordinate and subordinate concepts should be kept similar in the translations as in the Finnish definitions. Sometimes it was decided that the translations could be formed differently from their Finnish counterparts for the sake of fluency in the language in question.

    The main principle when compiling the different language versions of the Glossary of Court Terms was that such concepts that were as near as possible to the Finnish concepts should be found in other cultures and systems. But – as is often the case in multilingual terminology work – the concept systems in different cultures and languages are not similar. Reference points were the court systems in England, Wales, Germany and France. When similar concepts could not be found in these systems, an appropriate related concept was looked for or such a foreign equivalent was coined that would describe the Finnish concept as well as possible.

    All languages in the glossary had their special difficulties, but in general it was easier to find Swedish terms than terms in other languages, because Swedish terms have already been established through bilingual legislation in Finland. It was perhaps the most difficult to choose English equivalents. The English common law system and the Finnish legal system are fundamentally so different from each other that corresponding concepts are hard to find. On the other hand, English has some kind of a role as a lingua franca, which in this case means that the chosen equivalents should function in communication with other than English-speaking countries, too.

    Textile terminology

    Anneke Askeland from RTT presented her project on the terminology of textiles and ready-made clothing. The latest Norwegian textile dictionary was published in 1954, but now RTT is building a database for textile terms. At the moment the database contains 6651 term posts, and it will be used as a basis for RTT's new textile dictionary. The dictionary will have terms and definitions in Norwegian, and terms in English, German and French. It is not yet certain whether it will contain also Swedish and Danish terms.


    Budget Glossary

    The aim of the Budget Glossary is to clarify the concepts related to the Finnish Government's Budget and to give recommendations for the Finnish and Swedish terms and their appropriate English, German and French equivalents. Definitions are given in all of the languages, besides French. The glossary contains 226 concepts, and gives recommendations on the usage of terms, e.g. by stating if a term is admitted, deprecated or outdated.


    >Petteri Järvinen's IT-tietosanakirja (IT encyclopedia) contains words, abbreviations and concepts of information technology, electronic commerce, the Web and mobile phones. The book has 4240 entries. Entry words are in Finnish and in English, and definitions are in Finnish.


    The Finnish Association for Information Processing has published ATK-sanakirja, the Dictionary of Information Processing, since 1966, and this year the 11th revised version was published. The dictionary contains seven languages: Finnish, English, Swedish, German, Spanish, Estonian and Russian. The book consists of two parts: a defining part and an index part. The defining part has 3000 entries and definitions are written in Finnish. The index part contains six bilingual indexes where foreign terms are given Finnish equivalents.

    Skrivregler för svenska och engelska

    The Swedish Centre for Terminology (TNC) has published a guide for writing Swedish and English. It is meant for those who compile formal Swedish texts in their work or studies. The guide gives spelling instructions both for the Swedish and English language, but the instructions are only in Swedish and just the examples are in English. In addition, the guide gives instructions especially for the writers of technical and scientific texts. It advises how to make clear tables and diagrams, how to refer and how to compile a bibliography.

    Norwegian–English/German building dictionaries

    RTT has published two dictionaries on building terms. The first contains Norwegian and English terms, the second Norwegian and German terms. Entries are arranged in alphabetical order in both language pairs. The dictionaries are pocket books and both contain 2500 terms with equivalents. There are no definitions in the books.