Summaries 4/2000

  • Krista Varantola, asiantuntija kehä III:n ulkopuolelta / Minna Isoherranen

  • Per aspera ad astra? – Kokemuksia tutkielmahankkeesta / Inkeri Vehmas-Lehto

  • EU-termistöä venäjäksi / Kati Huhtala

  • EU:n kielitilanne muutosten ja haasteiden edessä / Johanna Suomalainen

  • Uutta suomenkielistä täydennystä Eurodicautom-termipankkiin/ Mari Suhonen

  • Uudistuksia Tietotekniikan termitalkoissa / Katri Seppälä

  • Kirjallisuutta

    Krista Varantola, an expert outside the Helsinki region

    Krista Varantola has been a member of TSK's board of directors since 1990. She works as a professor of translation and interpretation of English in the University of Tampere. Varantola's doctoral thesis (1984) on the use of language in special fields was one of the reasons for her interest in terminology.

    In 1990 Varantola made a report on the state of terminology work and estimated in which direction TSK should go in the future. In this work she considered what the EU means for terminology work and what kind of challenges it will bring. Varantola's forecast was right since the EU has brought a great deal of work for terminologists.

    In Varantola's opinion terminological work methods must be developed, because electronic information retrieval and management are also increasing. According to Varantola "TSK's most important asset is knowhow and how this knowhow can be developed to meet future needs." She thinks that TSK's role is changing so that there will be more consulting work.

    Varantola tells that lexicographers and terminologists used to guard their territories strictly, but now the barriers have broken down and both teams co-operate with each other. This co-operation benefits both parties, and dictionaries and vocabularies can be compiled together.

    As a professor of translation and interpretation Varantola knows that terminology courses are useful for translator students. "Terminology is one of the most essential elements in a translator's work" Varantola emphasizes. A major part of translation work is search for information, and the basic information must be found and clarified before translation can even be started. One way for translator students to receive practice in terminology work is to work as trainees in TSK. TSK also organizes courses on terminology work for universities.

    Varantola has also other confidential posts. In August she was chosen as the president of Euralex for two years. She acts as a member of the Science and Technology Policy Council in Finland. She is also a member of a group dealing with co-operation in higher education in the Nordic Council of Ministers. Currently Varantola is on sabbatical. For one year she will have time to concentrate on her own research on language technology and translation applications before she returns to her office in August 2001.

    Per aspera ad astra?

    Professor Inkeri Vehmas-Lehto writes about a Finnish–Russian forestry dictionary project that is under way in the Department of Translation Studies of the University of Helsinki. Students are doing the terminology work as their theses, and the dictionary will be compiled on the basis of these theses. So far there are about 1100 term records, and the purpose is to publish a preliminary dictionary in the beginning of 2001.

    The scope of the dictionary is silviculture and forest ecology since these subjects are badly covered in current forestry dictionaries. The target group is above all translators. Therefore the dictionary also contains definitions, notes and comments on the quality and type of equivalents, not just foreign equivalents.

    The dictionary is not normative, because students do not have the authority to set norms. It also includes such Russian equivalents that are not used in Russian texts, i.e. so called translation proposals for Finnish terms. Definitions do not necessarily form a logical entity with each other, because they may have the same wording that they had in the source material. The dictionary also contains Russian definitions for Russian concepts.

    The work began in the autumn 1996, and the first task was to divide the field of forestry into smaller subject fields. e.g. felling and biotic diseases. Students must first gather information on their subject field by reading Finnish texts and relevant vocabularies. Authentic, untranslated Russian texts have been used as sources for equivalents. Equivalents found in translations have been accepted – after verification by experts – only if no genuine Russian equivalent for a Finnish concept has been found.

    The project has been very challenging. Students are neither terminologists nor forestry experts. According to Vehmas-Lehto her knowledge of forestry has not been deep enough, and because of this she may have given too difficult tasks for students. The biggest problem has been the constant turnover of students. Vehmas-Lehto thinks that they should have used more time in planning and that the students should have been trained more systematically in the principles of terminology work. A project group having regular meetings could have been useful.

    The project has been difficult but rewarding. The students have had a change to learn terminology work in practice and in the same time they have gained knowledge of forestry and related terminology. The project has offered them a meaningful research scheme that also serves the society.

    EU terminology in Russian

    Glossary on the European Integration. Terms of the European Union's Treaties and Agreements (1998) contains terminology in five languages: English, Russian, French, German and Dutch. The book is divided into five main sections: 1. Treaties and Agreements, 2. EU Institutions and Their Structure, 3. Legal Basis of the EU Activity, 4. EU Policy and Activity and 5. International Policy. Usually the book gives only equivalents for terms and expressions but the mos central institutions, like the European Council, and similar parties and phenomena are also given a Russian definition. There are many EU dictionaries and vocabularies in many other languages, but this is the first one in Russian.

    This glossary is published by the Association of European Studies (AES) which operates under the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The AES is a non-governmental organization, and its personnel includes researchers and professors from various Russian universities and research institutions and specialists from the government and private sector. The main aims of the AES are to support the development of European studies in Russia, to develop international co-operation, to promote education and training in these fields and to carry out publishing activities.

    EU's language changes and challenges

    The position of official languages in the enlarging EU was discussed in Meet the Commission series organized by the European Commission Representation in Finland. The speaker was language co-ordinator Jyrki Lappi-Seppälä from the Commission's Translation Service.

    The Translation Service fulfils the principle of equality expressed by the founders of the European Communities in 1958 according to which all official languages must be treated as equal. Since 1995 – after Finland, Sweden and Austria joined the EU – there has been 15 member states and 11 official languages. In the future the number of official languages may double because every new country applying for membership at the moment represent at least one new language. Therefore the language situation in the EU is faced with great changes and challenges.

    Two essential challenges for the Translation Service are volume and quality. Not all is translated, but acts and other important documents must be published in all official languages. And as the EU becomes more significant globally, more and more texts are translated into and from languages outside the Union, such as Russian, Japanese and Arabic.

    The quality of translations is particularly important because many texts have far-reaching political, legal and economic effects. One quality requirement has been that the translators translate only into their mother tongue. In the future the situation may not stay so ideal, because if the number of official languages increases there will be some quite relatively strange languages, such as Polish and Estonian. So far the translations have been made without intermediate languages, but in the future this principle may not always be adhered to.

    EU texts are dependent on each other. For example, the current Finnish practice started before Finland joined the EU, and the old translations form the basis for later translations. The situation is difficult for the translators because they usually have no authority to edit either the source or target language texts. Lappi-Seppälä wishes that the member states would demand clear writing in the EU in order to improve the language of texts.

    The Commission's Translation Service employs about 1250 translators. A translator should have a perfect command of his/her mother tongue and a good command of at least two EU's official languages.

    English is the source language in more than half of the EU documents. In 35% of cases the source language is French and in 5% German. The rest is divided between the lesser used EU languages.

    The Service invests in technical tools in order to maintain quality within tight deadlines. There is Eurodicautom termbank, Celex data base containing EU legislation, Multiterm termbank for translators, Translator's Workbench translation memory and computer-assisted translation is also used.

    New Finnish terms into Eurodicautom

    The Eurodicautom term collection project is now ready. This time the termbank was completed with terms of electrical engineering, economy and business, statistics and environmental protection. There were in all 14 000 term records, and about 80% of them were due to have Finnish terms. The reason for not aiming at 100% is that some terms in Eurodicautom are designations for obsolete concepts and all concepts are not known in all countries, so equivalents are not necessarily needed. The work is not just collecting existing Finnish terms: the experts could also suggest new terms.

    The material in Eurodicautom varies a lot. Most of the terms are term-like nouns and short word combinations. However, there are some special cases that created difficulties for Finnish experts and terminologists. These were e.g. names of standards and trade names. There were also long designations for statistical phenomena and, instead of one clearly definable concept, some kind of combination of concepts for a statistical phenomenon was behind the designation.

    We could not have managed without the help of special field experts. So our warmest thanks to all who participated in the work!

    Reforms in the Finnish Group for IT Terminology

    This autumn the Finnish Group for IT Terminology has sought ways to improve co-operation between work groups and to facilitate the use of results. The number of work groups was reduced from three to two, when it became obvious that the meeting group concentrating mainly on administrative tasks is not needed. Instead of administrative support the co-ordination group has occasionally missed someone to check technical details. Therefore the co-ordination group has agreed with some IT experts that they can be consulted if necessary.

    In order to improve interaction between co-ordination and reference groups, it was decided that a compilation of comments will be sent to all persons in the reference group. The compilation of comments shows the details and different opinions according to which the co-ordination group edits the recommendations for publishing.

    A mailing list has been created for those who do not participate in the work group activities but are interested in the results. When new recommendations are published, people on the mailing list will receive information on this. There is also a new search on the web pages. It is now possible to search for Finnish or English terms or words in all the Finnish material. This new search is also useful for the co-ordination group, because all the search words that are not found in the data base will be saved on a list that is followed regularly by the co-ordination group.

    When defining concepts such characteristics should be brought up that are essential and help to delimit the concept from other concepts. Variable characteristics are placed in a note that supplements the definition. Definitions should contain only such terms that are defined elsewhere in the same vocabulary or are already known by the users. For this reason descriptive expressions are sometimes used so that lay persons may understand the intension of a concept. Terms should be transparent, i.e. show the essential characteristics of a concept. When term recommendations are made, it is important to take into account the prevailing language use.

    The users of term recommendations must usually themselves conclude on which grounds the recommendations are made, because it would take too much time to explain the reasons. However, the co-ordination group tries to make sure that the recommendations are as unambiguous as possible.


    Icelandic–English, English–Icelandic vocabulary of economics contains over 6000 concepts. The vocabulary also includes some definitions in Icelandic. The book is supplemented with a CD-ROM which contains all the material of the book. An English foreword would have been helpful for those who cannot speak Icelandic, but unfortunately neither the book nor the CD-ROM has one.

    New SFS vocabularies

    The Finnish Standards Association SFS has ratified standards SFS-IEC 60050-415 Electrotechnical vocabulary. Part 415: Wind turbine generator systems and SFS-IEC 60050-651 Electrotechnical vocabulary. Part 651: Live working. Both vocabularies contain terms in Finnish, French, English, German and Swedish and definitions in English and French.

    Prefixes for binary multiples

    The international standard IEC 60027-2/A2 Letter symbols to be used in electrical technology – Part 2: Telecommunications and electronics defines prefixes for the multiple units of binary numbers. This standard contains the official names of prefixes, such as kibi, mebi and gibi, and the symbols for the prefixes (Ki, Mi and Gi).