Summaries 1/2009

  • Yhteistyöllä tuloksiin / Anu Ylisalmi

  • Fidelma Ní Ghallchobhair pitää vähemmistökielten puolia / Anu Ylisalmi

  • 10 vuotta Tietotekniikan termitalkoita / Sirpa Suhonen

  • Selväkielistä tietotekniikkaa / Mirja Paatero

  • Ansiomitali pelastusalan sanastotyöstä terminologi Sirpa Suhoselle / Katja Ahola

  • Sveitsin valtionhallinnon sanastotyöhön tutustumassa / Mari Junkkari

  • Elintarviketurvallisuus ja sanastoyhteistyö / Pirjo-Liisa Penttilä

  • Uusia tietojärjestelmiin liittyviä sanastohankkeita / Mari Suhonen & Riina Kosunen

  • Tilinpäätöstermejä kolmella kielellä / Mari Suhonen

  • Kirjallisuutta

    Results with cooperation

    Today the importance of cooperation and networks has been realized in all fields. Organizations focus on their core competence, and other tasks are given to partners. When doing terminology work, the most efficient way is to give the main work load and the responsibility for practical terminology work to the experts of terminology. However, these experts, i.e. terminologists, cannot do the work alone, but the best result is achieved when they work in close cooperation with special fields experts. Specialists know what things a glossary should contain, and terminologists know how to gather and edit these things into a clear and coherent form.

    Cooperation between those who work in the field of terminology is also important. Meetings and sharing of experiences with others working in the same field develop professional know-how and identity. The Finnish Terminology Centre TSK cooperates with different organizations both at national and international level, e.g. ISO/TC 37 Terminology and other language and content resources, European Association for Terminology and the Nordic cooperation forum Nordterm.

    Fidelma Ní Ghallchobhair — defender of minority languages

    The Irish Fidelma Ní Ghallchobhair is the Secretary to the Irish-language Terminology Committee and the President of the European Association for Terminology (EAFT). She was brought up in an English-speaking area, but Irish was her mother’s mother-tongue. When Ní Ghallchobhair was 12 years, she went to an Irish boarding school. Then she studied in Galway in Western Ireland which is one of the most important Irish-speaking areas in the country. She has a degree in Irish and Latin and a master’s degree in Modern Irish. "In childhood, I was introduced to two very different languages and became interested in how different languages conceptualize differently" she says.

    First Ní Ghallchobhair worked as an editor of textbooks written in Irish and of children’s books. Then she began to work part-time as a researcher in the office of the Irish-language Terminology Committee. After working there as a researcher for seven years, she became the Secretary to the Committee. In her work Ní Ghallchobhair enjoys the fact that there is so much to learn about the world through the window of terminology.

    The task of the Terminology Committee is to provide coherent Irish terminology to meet the needs of the Irish language community. The Committee was part of the Department of Education until 1999 when it was transferred to the new national language body, Foras na Gaeilge (the Irish Language Agency). Foras na Gaeilge’s tasks include the promotion of the Irish language in all its forms, above all support for education in Irish and other language-based activities, and lexicography and terminology.

    The main committee of the Irish-language Terminology Committee consists of 20 voluntary members. The Committee sets up Subcommittees to develop terminology in specific subject fields, e.g. proper names, and education, business and IT terms. The Terminology Committee’s stock of terms is available online at, the national terminology database which contains bilingual term lists giving grammatical information and subject-field tags but very few definitions so far. At the moment the Committee cooperates a lot with the DG of Translation of the EU, e.g. to add Irish terms into the IATE terminology database.

    Irish is the national and official language of Ireland. About 85 000 of Ireland’s more than 4 million inhabitants reported in the most recent census that they speak Irish on a daily basis, while 1.66 million people reported that they can speak Irish. All acts and bills of the Irish parliament are translated into Irish. Most place name signs are bilingual, and in Irish-speaking areas even monolingual. Certain public services are required to be available in Irish. Irish is taught in all primary schools. There is also an Irish-language radio station and television station. Despite the prominent status of Irish, it is not possible to live in Ireland using only Irish.

    English has influenced Irish a lot. Words have been borrowed from English since at least the 15th century, often for new concepts and sometimes replacing native words with more fashionable words. "Recently, the Irish syntax has begun to suffer at the hands of English" Ní Ghallchobhair says. "Since there are no monoglot Irish speakers left, more and more people are thinking — at least partly — through English which is reflected in some strange shifts of syntax." Furthermore, the advance of domain loss is extensive, and much native Irish terminology has been forgotten or rejected. Ní Ghallchobhair thinks that the Irish language is threatened. "A great deal of damage has been done to Irish due to domain loss and the influence of English. I believe that Irish will survive as a minority language if it gets financial support."

    Irish became an official language of the EU in 2007. Ní Ghallchobhair thinks that this status is important because it encourages people to think more positively about the value of the language.

    Ní Ghallchobhair was elected to the Board of the EAFT in 2004 and became its President in 2007. According to her, the main tasks of EAFT are to promote plurilingualism through terminology, to support and professionalize terminological activities on the European stage and to liaise with relevant organizations and institutions. She has also represented Ireland in the ISO/TC 37 since 2002, and is currently working on the ISO 704 Terminology work — Principles and methods standard which is one of the most important standards of this technical committee.

    Ní Ghallchobhair thinks that attention to terminology is more important than ever. It is necessary to take into account the different languages across the globe and relate terminology work to the bigger picture. "Multilingual contact is on the increase and this brings with it certain dangers — to oversimplify, borrow or even switch languages to facilitate communication. Those of us involved in terminology work need to aim to provide clear and accurate terminological information to as wide a public as possible." Ní Ghallchobhair says.

    Finnish IT terms for 10 years

    The Finnish Group for IT Terminology started in 1999 as a part of the Multilingual Information Society programme of the European Commission. Its form of organization was based on the Swedish Datatermgruppen.

    There are two groups working with IT terminology. The coordination group selects the concepts to be dealt with, suggests term recommendations and publishes them. The reference group comments the suggestions before they are published. There is also a mailing list for those who want to see the new term recommendations.

    Since the beginning of the IT terminology work the languages have been Finnish and English, and the target group the average users of computers. In the IT field it is often so that new concepts have only English designations. The Finnish Group tries to improve the status of Finnish and the ordinary user by giving Finnish term recommendations. The concepts are also defined so that users will understand them.

    In IT the development of new concepts and terms is fast and therefore new recommendations are needed all the time. Because of this it is better to have an ongoing project the results of which are published on the Internet( At the moment, there are about 380 term records containing term recommendations and definitions in Finnish.

    Clear IT terms

    Mirja Paatero, the writer of the article, works as a journalist in MikroPC which is a Finnish IT magazine. She has participated in the work of the Finnish Group for IT
    Terminology since its beginning.

    There is a constant lack of terms in a magazine like MikroPC since masses of new products and techniques are introduced into the markets. The needs of a magazine are often so urgent that there is no time for terminology work. The producers and marketers of IT products do not always help the situation. English terms glare out of Finnish news-sheets, too. The creation of Finnish terms is left to the editors who do not have enough information on products. In addition to this, manufacturers want to describe their unique technical solutions with unique terms: If others have plug-ins, our add-on is something completely different. But is it possible to use the same Finnish word for them? Often the editors come to a compromise and show the English expression in parenthesis besides the Finnish word.

    A magazine needs words of different styles. The language used in MikroPC is quite close to spoken language — for example short expressions are favoured — and so it must be for the reader to enjoy the magazine. Even if the terms were in Finnish, this does not automatically mean that the text is clear, e.g. if the language structure is alien to Finnish.

    Inventing new terms is only a small part of IT terminology work. The most effort is put into defining the concepts. Often it is hard to find out what a new unestablished concept means. The IT field changes quickly, and sometimes a concept that caused a sensation can just disappear from use.

    Medal for merit to Sirpa Suhonen

    The Finnish National Rescue Association SPEK gave a medal for merit to terminologist Sirpa Suhonen as a recognition for her work in the fire and rescue field. Suhonen works as a terminologist in the Finnish Terminology Centre TSK, and has participated in two terminology projects of the field. The Preparedness and Civil Defence Vocabulary was compiled in 2005–2007 and the Fire and Rescue Vocabulary in 2003–2006. The purpose of these vocabularies is to clarify concepts, give recommendations on Finnish terms and offer suitable equivalents in foreign languages.

    The most central organizations of the field had their representatives in the work groups that compiled the vocabularies. The terminologist and special field experts worked closely together in order to achieve as high quality as possible both in content and presentation.

    "The vocabularies are worth their weight in gold for the fire and rescue field. The vocabularies are now actively used and are splendid tools in preparation of texts and communication in the field" Kimmo Kohvakka, the managing director of SPEK, emphasizes.

    Terminology work in Swiss state administration

    The task of the Terminology Section of the Swiss Federal Chancellery is to coordinate terminology work in the Swiss state administration and to harmonize terms used in state legislation and administration. In addition, glossaries for special fields are compiled. All the glossaries made by the Terminology Section are saved in the TERMDAT database which contains more than 1,5 million term records.

    The Terminology Section serves mainly the employees of the state administration. Therefore TERMDAT functions as an intranet and is not open to the general public. However, students and researchers may be given access rights to the databank for non-commercial uses. There are six terminologists in the Section. In addition to them, there are terminologists for various projects working as subcontractors.

    The languages used in terminology work in the Terminology Section are German, French and Italian, the official languages of Switzerland, and in addition to them English. The fourth official language, Rhaeto-Romance, is included when necessary. The principles of systematic terminology work are adhered to.

    The Terminology Section publishes free extracts of its glossaries on the Internet as PDF documents. Entire glossaries are seldom published in printed form, because printing is expensive and it is easier to update and distribute PDF glossaries on the Internet.

    The Terminology Section also cooperates with universities and research institutions, and participates in the activities of international organizations and networks working with terminology.

    Food safety and terminology cooperation

    The food business is quite extensive and several separate information systems are used in it. Therefore information is scattered and cannot be used efficiently. Since the information systems were not built to be compatible with each other, there are now major coordination projects where interfaces are being built to transfer information from one system to another.

    The building of information system networks and the securing of system compatibility are great challenges. Technical compatibility is not enough, the information contents must also be compatible. The users of information must understand facts similarly, so that right decisions can be made and measures taken. There can also be problems between IT specialists and their clients. When building information systems, new terms or imaginative classification can be invented. Terminological problems are often noticed too late when information systems are integrated or information is transferred. The incompatibility of information often comes as a surprise, and the additional costs are not budgeted for.

    The need for terminology work in the food business is enormous and the problem only partly recognized. The problem has been discussed in seminars, and the necessity of information standardization and terminology work has been emphasized.

    Terminology work has already been included in the building of individual information systems. A vocabulary was compiled for the register of objects of control of the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, and now there is a new project defining control data. Both terminologies will further coherent terminology in the food business. The Statistical Office of the European Communities Eurostat has started a similar work in the compilation of statistics for food safety. It would be desirable that centralized terminology work could also be started in the EU.

    New terminology projects for information systems

    Two terminology projects related to information system development were started in the Finnish Terminology Centre TSK in December 2008. The KUTI 2 terminology project is related to the development project for data collection in municipal food control administrated by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira. The first phase of the project dealt with objects of control in the food control, and the second phase focuses on the information gathered by this control.

    Both phases of the KUTI project include definition work on the information gathered, and in each part project it was felt necessary to compile terminologies on central concepts with the Finnish Terminology Centre TSK. The KUTI 2 terminology will define 80–100 concepts related to food control information.

    The other terminology project started last December is called YHTI. It is related to the development of data collection for environmental health care which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Consumer Agency. It will define about 50 concepts on the subfields of environmental health care, i.e. health protection, control of chemicals, tobacco and
    product safety.

    Both vocabularies will contain Finnish term recommendations and definitions and equivalents in Swedish and English.

    Terms in financial statements in three languages

    An updated terminology related to the financial statements of credit institutions and investment firms was published in the Bank and Finance Terminology ( in January. The terminology work group compiled two different terminologies. The first one includes 13 basic concepts of financial statements.
    The concepts are defined, placed in a concept diagram and given terms in Finnish, Swedish and English. The other contains information on 141 items included in income statements and balance sheets. Each item is given a designation in Finnish, Swedish and English along with a short explanation describing its place in the income statement or balance sheet.


    Port Out, Starboard Home: And Other Language Myths
    Port Out, Starboard Home: And Other Language Myths by Michael Quinion has been translated into Finnish as Totta ja tarua englannin sanoista. The book deals with myths, beliefs and true stories behind words and expressions. Quinion is a journalist and linguist. On his web site World Wide Words ( he writes about issues concerning the English language and above all etymology.

    Market, opinion and social research. Vocabulary and service requirements
    The Finnish Standards Association SFS has published the SFS-ISO 20252 Market, opinion and social research. Vocabulary and service requirements standard. It contains 66 concepts in the field of market, opinion and social research. The concepts are given terms in Finnish and English and definitions in Finnish.