Summaries 4/2002

  • Sanastotyön asialla – arkista aherrusta TSK:ssa / Lena Jolkkonen

  • Nina Pilke – katsaus tutkijan työpöydälle / Johanna Suomalainen

  • Palkasta polttoaineveroon – Verosanasto selvittää verotermien viidakkoa / Kaisa Kuhmonen

  • Terminologiakonferenssi Riiassa / Mari Suhonen

  • Turvallisesti merellä / Heli Miettinen

  • Man gave names to all the animals... / Juha Valste

  • Termityö tutuksi / Johanna Suomalainen

  • Kirjallisuutta

    Promoting terminology work

    During the many work days in this autumn TSK has worked hard to promote terminology work. The clear and often easy-to-understand result of systematic terminology work does not reveal at first glance how many busy hours the work has required.

    TSK is a small expert organization, and one special feature of TSK is that everyone has to do many kinds of tasks and diverse knowhow is expected from everyone. Knowledge of the methods of terminology work is naturally our core competence. In addition to that TSK's terminologists must at least have language, project management, cooperation and IT skills and ability to evaluate source material and to adopt information on other special fields.

    It is TSK's challenge to emphasize the importance of terminology work and to make TSK better known. For this reason an event on terminology work was organized in TSK in the end of October. TSK's terminologists and Antti Rainio as TSK's client told what terminology work is all about and what the benefits of this work are.

    A Nordterm conference will be organized by the Swedish Centre for Terminology in Sweden on 11-14 June 2003. More information on the event can be found on All who are interested in terminology are welcome!

    Nina Pilke

    Nina Pilke, Doctor of Philosophy, talked about her thesis Dynamic specialist concepts. Structuring knowledge concerning actions and events within the fields of technology, medicine and law in TSK's member meeting. She has received a lot of acknowledgement for her work and one of the greatest rewards came this year when she was awarded a TFR Award, International Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theoretical/Fundamental Research in the Field of Terminology. At the moment Pilke works as senior assistant in the University of Vaasa in the Department of Scandinavian Languages.

    In her thesis Pilke studied how concepts related to actions or events, dynamic concepts, are described in LSP glossaries. Her study aimed at developing methods that can be used to analyse and describe dynamic concepts. For her study she looked through 1500 Swedish definitions in the glossaries of technology, medicine and law. According to Pilke actions are described in definitions on the basis who does, why does, how does, in what conditions does, where does and when does, whereas events are described on the basis what causes an event and how, where and when the event occurs.

    "It is typical for technology to leave the person who does out of definitions because in technology the result is always more important than who does it. In medicine the person who does may be important because some operations need certain qualification, e.g. only a doctor may write sick leave. In law the person who does is bound by acts and statutes and therefore has an important role", says Pilke.

    Pilke participates in two completely new education projects. The first one is dialogue education where traditional barriers between courses have been removed and oral and written communication, translation and pronunciation, literature and natural sciences are intermeshed with each other. The idea of this study programme is that students can influence the content of the education and have training on all the subfields of language at the same time.

    The other new project in which Pilke participates is a co-project between the Departments of Scandinavian Languages and Accounting and Finance. The aim is to combine the learning of Swedish with the learning of substance.

    Pilke participates actively in the events of the field and has published several articles. Besides her work Pilke also has an interest in the activities of many organizations. Communities in the own field are an important forum for a researcher on the viewpoint of information and contacts. Pilke is e.g. the treasurer of the International Institute for Terminology Research and a member of the steering committee of the cooperation group for the Scandinavian language departments in Finland.

    Taxation Glossary

    Kaisa Kuhmonen, terminologist at the Government Terminology Service of the Prime Minister's Office, writes about the project on the Taxation Glossary for which she worked as the project secretary.

    One of the most interesting features of a terminologist's work is that the terminologist gets an opportunity to examine subjects of which he or she has almost no previous knowledge. Obviously a terminologist is not an expert in all subject fields. How can a layperson manage to do terminology work in a special subject field where expertise is gained through studying and years of work? It is certain that a terminologist could not do it alone, but fortunately this is not required either. In every terminology project of the Terminology Service there is a group of experts who know the field in question. Experts from the Ministry of Finance, National Board of Taxation and National Board of Customs participated in the Taxation Glossary project.

    In addition a language group for each language of the glossary (Finnish, Swedish, English, German and French) was established. Although the terminologist has the support of the experts, he or she has to study the subject of the glossary as well as he or she can during the project.

    Terminologists at the Government Terminology Service have noticed that it is often most difficult to define the basic concepts of glossaries. In the Taxation Glossary the definitions of tax, taxation and salary were rewritten many times. The reason why concepts are difficult to define is often that some terms are also used in the standard language where their meaning is often larger and more vague than in a special language. Defining is specially difficult if the larger standard language and narrower special language meanings are both used in the special field.

    The way experts understand concepts depends on their background, and the same is true for the terminologist. Kuhmonen tells that she first wrote definitions from the viewpoint of a taxpayer and defined various taxes as "tax paid on such and such ground". But since the main target group of the glossary consists of civil servants in the tax administration, it was decided that the viewpoint of tax authorities should be the starting point and the definitions were changed to "tax levied on such and such ground".

    Since the Government Terminology Service does terminology work in state administration, terminology projects always deal with cultural differences. Taxation is organized differently in every country. Of course, the objective is to find corresponding terms for Finnish concepts in other cultures and systems, but it is often necessary to compromise. If a corresponding concept is not found, it must be studied if a suitable related, superordinate or subordinate concept could be used. If they are not appropriate, such a foreign equivalent must be formed that corresponds as well as possible to the Finnish concept.

    Terminology conference in Riga

    STK-2 – 2nd International Conference on Terminology was organized in Riga on 21–25 October. The theme was terminology and technology transfer in the multilingual information society.

    The conference was arranged in commemoration of Ernest Drezen's 110th anniversary. Drezen had knowledge of many languages and was especially interested in Esperanto. His other interest was terminology and term problems related to internationalization. According to him harmonization of concepts is essential in international terminology work. But before international harmonization of concepts and terms, the use of concepts and terms should first be harmonized on a national level.

    Arvi Tavast presented a new method of establishing IT terms that is being developed in Estonia. He told that the conventional standardization work cannot produce terminology standards for the IT field fast enough and the standards may be outdated already when they are published. The lack of functional terminology work has resulted in terminological variation which makes communication difficult.

    The new method under development is based on the use of Web. Participants will be able to make additions to the material when it is suitable for them, and this will facilitate the terminology work of many voluntary experts. Funding must be arranged only for a small core group that consists of terminology experts who will edit the material according to the principles of terminology.

    The situation of small languages, like Estonian and Latvian, was also discussed in the conference. For example, Ieva Zauberga told that in Latvia great social changes and rapid internationalization have increased the need to develop a lot of Latvian terminology. Many Latvian speakers told that there are few Latvian dictionaries and term databases available, and material on special fields in Latvian has not been published very much e.g. on the Internet.

    But there are people in Estonia and Latvia who are interested in the development of terminology in their own language and who work on it, and in both countries terminology work is done in the public sector.

    Safety at sea

    There is a small vocabulary of aids-to-navigation in this Terminfo. It contains 25 term records. Finnish concepts are defined in Finnish and equivalents given in Swedish, English and French. One of the most important sources used in the work is the IALA Maritime Buoyage System. The Finnish Maritime Administration has checked the vocabulary and given valuable help.

    Finnish names to animals

    Bob Dylan sings "Man gave names to all the animals, in the beginning, long time ago!" Unfortunately there is no reason for Dylan's optimism: all animals have not been given names, not even in the language of science, not to mention English or other languages. Most of the animals living on Earth lack a taxonomic description – not even scientists have seen them, let alone given them names. According to different estimations only 5–15% of species have scientific names. Names have been given particularly to big animals, such as mammals and birds, often also to reptiles, amphibians and fish. Only the most spectacular or biting insects and other invertebrates have names.

    Almost a decade ago an enormous job was completed in Finland: birds of the world were given Finnish names. There are over 9000 bird species and most of them did not have a Finnish name before. The rules for naming birds in Finnish may be used for other animals, too. The name should consist of one, two or three parts at most, it should not include the name of a human and it should tell something about the appearance, sound, habits or distribution of a species. The name should preferably be funny, fitting, easy to pronounce and create correct associations. The Finnish terminology group had to change some existing names, because they were bad or misleading, but they were cautious of changing established names.

    After birds were named, it was the time for mammals. More than half of mammals are rodents and almost one forth are bats. It is a difficult and big job to name those thousands of species belonging to this group, because very few of them already have a Finnish name. The same applies to insectivores. On the other hand all whales, carnivores, even-toed ungulates and odd-toed hoofed mammals have Finnish names.

    At the moment there are more than 5000 named species of mammals and the number grows all the time. How is this possible – mammals are well-known, aren't they? A good example is our own order or primates which consists of prosimians, monkeys, hominids and humans. Mammal

    Species of the World by Wilson and Reeder knew 233 primates in 1993, but only after eight years Primate Taxonomy by Groves (2001) lists already 355 species. The reason for increase is mainly due to the implementation of new research methods, like DNA and comparison of sounds. When scientists are really able to study the number of species of rodents, bats and insectivores, the total amount of these species will probably double. The amount of mammal species is likely to increase to the same amount as the bird species.

    Every species has a scientific name consisting of two parts. The first is the generic name written with a capital initial letter and the second is a specific name written with a small initial letter. For example a wolf is Canis lupus; Canis is the dog family and lupus is the species of wolf. Scientific names are mainly Latin or Greek, but they may also include personal or place names.

    Genera are combined to families: dogs Canis, foxes Vulpes and some other genera form together the family of dogs Canidae. A family name always has an ending -idae. Families are combined to orders: dogs Canidae, cats Felidae, weasels Mustelidae and some other families form the order of carnivores Carnivora. Orders are further combined to classes: carnivores Carnivora, rodents Rodentia, hares, rabbits and pikas Lagomorpha, insectivores Insectivora and some other orders form the class of mammals Mammalia.

    In translation such animal names may be found that are impossible to determine. The names could be local: an English name for the same animal may be different in England and the United States – not to speak of Australia and southern Africa. The same bird is called Siberian tit in England and gray-headed chickadee in the United States. A person trekking in the States may be threatened by a mountain lion, cougar, panther, catamount and puma – and it is the same animal all the time.

    What is terminology work?

    TSK organized an event for its partners in October where they were told about TSK's activities and terminology work. TSK specializes in special languages, terms and terminology work. TSK's core knowledge focuses on practical terminology work – handling, studying and clarifying of concepts. Theory of terminology and practical methods based on the theory are applied in the work.

    Terminological knowhow alone is not sufficient for compiling LSP vocabularies, knowledge on the special field is also required. Therefore a group of experts always participates in TSK's terminology projects. The experts decide on the content of a vocabulary and have responsibility for the correctness of special field information.

    One of the biggest challenges in terminology work is how to get funding for terminology projects. Another challenge is that experts have limited time to spend on terminology work, and the third is the lack of Finnish or Swedish expressions for new concepts. Many times the work has to be started with English material, but there is a good possibility to suggest Finnish terms when doing terminology work.

    Antti Rainio, who was a member of the work group that compiled the Vocabulary of Positioning published this spring, spoke in the role of TSK's client. He thinks that a terminology project is an important part of research and development projects. R&D projects should always include a terminology project or, at least, the necessity of such should be considered. Rainio emphasized that understandable communication is a central prerequisite for explaining things, such as the results of R&D projects, to a larger group, e.g. the general public. He thinks that investment in vocabularies is profitable, since the work done and money used pay themselves back.

    The costs of a terminology project are mainly caused by the work of a terminologist, because experts are usually able to participate in meetings and comment material in addition to their regular job. The price of a terminology project depends e.g. on the scope of the vocabulary, number of languages, method of publication and availability of source material.


    LSP and Theory of Translation
    The papers presented in the VAKKI Symposium held in the University of Vaasa in February have now been published in the book LSP and Theory of Translation. The theme was LSP and translation – focus in teaching. The publication includes 31 papers on translation theory and LSP research. The papers have been written in Finnish, Swedish, English, German and French.

    Glossary of social security
    The fourth, revised edition of Sosiaaliturvan sanasto, glossary of social security, has been published. The glossary is divided into two parts. The defining part contains about 150 Finnish social concepts and their equivalents in Swedish, English, German, French, Russian and Estonian. It deals with e.g. social insurance, social allowances and social services. The second part contains 1000 Finnish terms in alphabetical order and their equivalents in the above mentioned languages. In the end there are the alphabetical indexes in all the other languages.

    Library glossary
    Kirjastosanasto, library glossary, compiled by Liisa Junno, lists some Finnish and English terms connected to libraries and information retrieval, but in addition to these special field terms the glossary also contains a lot of standard language words. The glossary has two parts: Finnish–English and English–Finnish.

    Glossaries of physics and mathematics
    Two glossaries, one on physics and the other on mathematics, by Andrei Tsinovski have been published this autumn. Both of them contain terms in Finnish, English and Russian. The physics glossary has about 5000 terms and the mathematics glossary has almost 2300 terms. Both books list terms alphabetically in all three languages.

    Gastronomic glossary
    Pirkko Saikkonen's Gastronomian sanasto, gastronomic glossary, explains French gastronomic terms. The first and larger part of the book gives Finnish equivalents for French entries and the second part gives French equivalents for Finnish terms. The first part is larger because the writer explains some French concepts and offers more information on them than just the Finnish equivalents.

    SFS standards
    The Finnish Standards Association SFS has published the standard SFS-EN ISO 472 Plastics – Vocabulary with Finnish terms and translations. It has also approved three electrotechnical vocabularies as national standards: SFS-IEC 60050-121 + A1 Electrotechnical Vocabulary. Part 121: Electromagnetism, SFS-IEC 60050-151 Electrotechnical Vocabulary. Electrical and magnetic devices and SFS-IEC 60050-448 Electrotechnical Vocabulary. Part 448: Power system protection. All three standards contain terms and definitions in English and French and term equivalents in Finnish, Swedish and German.