Sirpa Suhonen

European, Nordic and national cooperation

The Nordterm Steering Committee had a meeting to discuss the next Nordterm terminology conference. The conference will be organized in Sweden in June 2013. Information on the conference will be published on The Nordterm and EAFT events are organized in turns, so this year EAFT organized a conference in Oslo, Norway.

The series of FinnONTO research projects, which were started in 2003 and in which the Finnish Terminology Centre participated since 2004, ended in September. FinnONTO has produced several tools to support the use and maintenance of ontologies. These tools create a foundation to establish operation models for the development and use of ontologies after the project has ended.

Sanna Kokkonen knows benefits of terminological knowhow

Sanna Kokkonen has been interested in chemistry since school age, and she studied chemical engineering in Lappeenranta University of Technology. Later she took industrial management as her major subject, but chemical engineering remained her minor subject.

Kokkonen tells that she has done many kinds of jobs already as a student. She taught e.g. in comprehensive schools and commercial colleges, and even in her own university. When she heard that her fellow students earned some extra money by translating patent applications, she became interested in the possibility of translating applications from French into Finnish. In fact, for seven years she translated patent applications during and after her studies.

Kokkonen graduated as a Master of Science in Technology in the beginning of 1990’s. At once she got work from the Lahti Chamber of Commerce where she worked as a project manager in many projects. Afterwards she worked in many companies and in many tasks, e.g. in marketing and business development.

Ten years ago Kokkonen wanted new challenges, remembered translating and founded a business name of her own in 2002. At that time there was a lot of demand for patent text translators, and Kokkonen’s career as a translator got a speedy start.

Although she had lots of work, Kokkonen had time to study, too. She has always been interested in medicine, and so she studied both medicine and microbiology in the open university. This knowledge has been useful for her as a translator since she has translated patents, handbooks, brochures and technical text on medicine and biosciences in addition to text on chemistry.

In 2011 Kokkonen changed the company form into an incorporated company, and she is the managing director. MultiFlow Translations Inc. is a translation agency specializing in technical and medical translations. It also offers other services that are closely connected to translation, like editing, proofreading, interpretation and layout services. Kokkonen does some translations herself, but primarily she wants to coordinate work and act as a link between the client and translator.

Because of her work Kokkonen deals with special field terms every day. Instructions and legally valid patent texts must be translated exactly, and it is essential that the translator knows the terminology in the field.

Kokkonen thinks that terminological knowhow and the work of the Finnish Terminology Centre are very important. She was pleased to accept a position in the Centre’s board of directors from the beginning of 2012 as the representative of the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters (SKTL). She agrees with the other members of the board that the Terminology Centre should remain a centre for all Finns and try to offer a wide variety of services.

Change management of linked ontologies

The aim of the semantic web is to express data in a machine-readable format which enables the combining of data into larger entities. Semantic web technologies also offer a possibility to teach computers to deduce like humans. A foundation for the Finnish Semantic Web has been created in the FinnONTO research projects of the Aalto University. The main goals have been to convert thesauri into ontologies and to create tools that use ontologies. Ontologies belong to the basic technologies of the semantic web since they present concepts and concept relations both in human- and machine-understandable format.

During FinnONTO projects 30 ontologies were created most of which are based on thesauri. The Finnish General Upper Ontology YSO based on the Finnish General Thesaurus is a general ontology. It contains standard language concepts that may be common for many fields, and in addition, the most central concepts of many special fields. The other ontologies focus on the concepts of some special field. Each of these domain-specific ontologies is linked to YSO. Because the concepts of YSO belong mainly to a higher hierarchy level than the concepts of domain ontologies, YSO functions as the upper ontology for the domain ontologies. The linking of domain ontologies to an upper ontology has the advantage that it is not necessary to rebuild the hierarchy of upper ontology concepts.

In addition to YSO and domain-specific ontologies the Finnish Collaborative Holistic

Ontology KOKO has been created. KOKO is created by combining YSO and 17 domain ontologies into one independent ontology. When KOKO is composed, all such concepts that occur in more than one ontology are merged. The automatic combining of KOKO is being developed at the moment. The aim is that when YSO or some domain ontology is updated, the new combination would be done automatically. So the newest version of KOKO would be available at once. However, the domain ontologies may be based on different versions of YSO which means that they might be incoherent with the upper ontology. The same concept can be found in many different versions of YSO and in domain ontologies without being marked as equivalent. The result is that the same concept is found in KOKO more than once. On the other hand, different words may be used to refer to the same concept, in which case it must be found out which word is the recommended one. In some ontologies the hierarchy is more exact than in others. E.g. in one ontology the concept dog may be directly under the concept mammals whereas in an other ontology it is under Canidae which is a subordinate concept to mammals. This kind of incoherence makes automatic combining difficult.

The Semantic Computing Research Group has developed tools for updating the domain and upper ontology pair and for checking the overlap of domain ontologies. MUTU tool is for identifying changes in YSO and transferring them to domain ontologies. KOAN tool will be used for finding the same concepts in different domain ontologies.

MUTU tool was created to help domain ontology developers to update their ontologies. MUTU lists the changes between the YSO version of the domain ontology and the newest YSO version, and in case of combined ontologies updates the newest YSO in the combination. A list of changes in YSO will be made and the changes are also marked in the domain ontology making it easier to notice those concepts that have changed.

The amount of YSO changes is controlled in two ways. YSO changes are grouped into different categories based on the type of change, and changes in every change category are classified as interesting or uninteresting from the point of view of the domain ontology. Change categories are e.g. added concepts and hierarchy changes. All changes in YSO are not interesting for a certain domain ontology. A hierarchy change of some concept could be interesting if it occurs near the domain ontology. The changes can be preliminary divided according to whether they are near the subject field of the ontology. If they are, they are more likely to cause changes in the domain ontology.

The first version of MUTU tool was completed in summer, and it has been evaluated by four domain ontology developers. The results of the evaluation will be published later in the Master's thesis of Sini Pessala, the writer of this article.

EAFT Summit in Oslo

The European Association for Terminology (EAFT) and the Language Council of Norway organized a terminology summit in Oslo on 11.-12. October.

Before the summit there was an international workshop on national term banks. The participants of the workshop presented their term bank organizations, content, technology and users. It was also discussed what makes a term bank national. A term bank could be called a national term bank, if it, at least, covers widely different subject fields, contains high-quality information, is available to all people in the country or area in question and, of course, contains the language or languages of the country or area in question.

The theme of the 6th EAFT Summit was responsibility and awareness. Anna-Lena Bucher, the keynote speaker, told about the language act passed in Sweden in 2009. According to the act the authorities have a special responsibility for ensuring that Swedish terminology in their various areas of expertise is accessible, and that it is used and developed. The act has been in force for three years now, but there has not been a significant increase in the amount of terminology work.

Marita Kristiansen from NHH (Norwegian School of Economics) told that the responsibility to develop and distribute Norwegian terms is given to the higher education institutions in the university act of Norway. For this purpose, Termportalen has been founded and existing material has been collected there. However, new terms have not been developed since no funding has been allocated to content work.

Many presentations brought forward concern about the status of small languages. E.g. Jan Roukens from Holland presented a figure that showed that 25 % of the courses in Dutch higher education institutions are in English. The figure was a few years old, and the percentage has probably grown since then. The reason for the ample amount of courses in English is that the education institutions want to become international and attract foreign students. According to Roukens the situation in Holland is such that Dutch scientists cannot write about their special fields in Dutch because they simply do not have terms in their own language.

Norwegian higher education institutions also want to become international, and they appeal to competitiveness. The use of English increases in the higher levels of education and research. If a Norwegian scientist wants to write his or her doctoral dissertation in some other language than English, there has to be a well-grounded reason to do so. The attitudes of teachers and students are very positive to English, although according to studies both think they know English better than they actually do.

The International Terminology Awards were given to Úna Bhreathnach, Marie Calberg-Challot and Natalia Seghezzi for their outstanding achievement in research. After the Summit there was EAFT General Assembly where e.g. the new web site of EAFT was discussed.

Picking nits and full stops

Sinikka Hieta-Wilkman comments on the writing of dates in Finnish. She was looking at housing advertisements in a big Finnish newspaper, and noticed that a nationwide construction company welcomed customers to see some new flats on “4.11”. Hieta-Wilkman wondered, tongue-in-cheek, who would be crazy enough to see a flat in the small hours, since “4.11” means eleven minutes past four in the morning. The company had meant “4.11.” which is the fourth of November. “4.11.” is the recommended and standardized way of writing dates in Finnish whereas “4.11” is the way of writing clock time, but sometimes even educated people make mistakes in these. In this case the correct interpretation could be concluded from the context, but sometimes the missing punctuation mark can change the meaning of a sentence, so writers should be careful.


The Finnish Language in the Digital Age
META-NET has published the report the Finnish Language in the Digital Age. The publication is a part of META-NET’s research on the status and development visions of the European languages and language technology. The report belongs to the White Paper Series Languages in the European Information Society in which the language resources and technologies of 30 European languages are analysed. The aim of the series is to promote knowledge about language technology and its potential, and to address educators, journalists, politicians and other members of language communities to act.

The research report presents the language technology support available for Finnish. According to the report Finnish has “fragmentary support”, i.e. it belongs to those languages that are threatened with digital extinction.

META-NET is a Network of Excellence funded by the European Commission, and it consists of 54 research centres in 33 European countries.

The Finnish Language in the Digital Age is available free on the net ( and printed in the Springer e-shop at the price of 54 Euro. As other White Paper Series reports, this report contains a full translation in English.

Swedish-Finnish glossary of social sector
The Swedish Language Council has published Språkrådets svensk-finska socialordlista in 2011. The purpose of the glossary is to unify the terminology of Finnish spoken in Sweden and to support the Finnish speakers in active bilingualism. The glossary contains about 3,700 most essential Swedish terms on social sector and gives Finnish equivalents for them. There is also a Finnish index.

Illustrated Building Dictionary
Building Information Ltd has published the Illustrated Building Dictionary – Finnish-English-Finnish in autumn 2012. The dictionary has been compiled by Erkki Jokiniemi and Nikolas Davies whose work with the dictionary lasted almost 20 years. The dictionary contains 43,000 Finnish and English entries with definitions in both languages. In addition to established terms the dictionary also contains profession jargon. There are also 260 pages of illustrations which supplement the entries and clarify the concepts.

Terminological entries in standards
ISO has published the standard ISO 10241-2 Terminological entries in standards – Part 2: Adoption of standardized terminological entries in August 2012. ISO 10241 consists of two parts. The first part is ISO 10241-1 Terminological entries in standards – Part 1: General requirements and examples of presentation. This second part addresses the introduction of standardized terminological entries into other cultural and linguistic environments, and in particular the adoption of internationally standardized terminological entries by regional and national standardizing bodies. It gives principles and guidelines for these processes, and examples of possible challenges in the processes and solutions to them. The standard also gives English terms and definitions for 26 concepts connected to the subject.

SFS standards
The Finnish Standards Association SFS has published the following standards as Finnish translations (the standards can be ordered from

Energy efficiency services
SFS-EN Energy efficiency services. Definition and requirements contains eight energy efficiency concepts that are given terms and definitions in Finnish and English. The standard also deals with the requirements of energy efficiency services and gives an example of energy efficiency service provision process.

Building lime
SFS-EN 459-1 Building lime. Part 1: Definitions, specifications and conformity criteria gives definitions for the different types of building lime and their classification. It also gives requirements for the properties of different types of building lime and specifies the conformity criteria.

Elementary relays
SFS-IEC 60050-444 International Electrotechnical Vocabulary. Part 444: Elementary relays contains 117 concepts that are given terms in Finnish, French, English, German and Swedish, and definitions in French and English.

Time relays
SFS-IEC 60050-445 International Electrotechnical Vocabulary. Part 445: Time relays contains 62 concepts that are given terms in Finnish, French, English and German, and definitions in English and French. Some concepts are supplemented with Finnish and English figures.

Measuring relays
SFS-IEC 60050-447 International Electrotechnical Vocabulary. Part 447: Measuring relays contains 137 concepts that are given terms in Finnish, French, English, German and Swedish, and definitions in English and French.

Detailed publisher and order information can be found in the Finnish article.