Sirpa Suhonen

Terms in bank – and definitions, too

In Norway, concept information from standards has been published in a public term bank. Now such information seekers who do not use standards daily can find this information and the sources, i.e. the standards. A term bank based on standards collects concepts from different fields. This kind of bringing together is necessary despite of where the information is from, since special fields have links to other special fields, e.g. social welfare has links to medicine.

In many cases users need concepts from different fields at the same time, or at least the same users need concepts from different fields in different situations. It is easier to find and use information if it is already collected in one place and presented coherently. A term bank including many special fields is a good tool. Information on concepts in various fields can be found in one place, and it is possible to compare how concepts with the same designations are defined in different fields.

Juhani Kellosalo - expert of surgery and language

Juhani Kellosalo is the editor-in-chief of Lääketieteen termit (medical terms) in Duodecim Medical Publications Ltd. Kellosalo graduated as a Licentiate of Medicine in 1976, a specialist in abdomen surgery in 1985 and as a Doctor of Medicine and Surgery in 1990. He worked in hospitals until 2005 when he became an editor of Duodecim’s dictionary. In 2007 he became the editor-in-chief. Duodecim Publications is owned by the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, and it focuses on medical textbooks, handbooks and databases.

The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim was founded in 1881 to develop the Finnish language in medicine. At first there were bilingual word lists, later dictionaries. In the end of 80s, the work to compile an explanatory medical dictionary began, and the first edition of Lääketieteen termit was published in 1992.

Entries are mainly in Finnish, and they are given short explanations. Latin, English and Swedish equivalents are given, and etymological information on terms of foreign origin. The dictionary contains also auxiliary English-Finnish, Swedish-Finnish and Latin-Finnish glossaries. With the help of these auxiliary glossaries it is possible to find the correct entry, if the reader knows only the foreign word.

In medical lexicography both new Finnish terms are created and established practice is recorded. Lääketieteen termit is published both as a printed book and as a paid online version. The online edition is updated every 6-12 months. The latest (fifth) edition of the printed book was published in 2007, and the sixth edition is planned in a year or two.

A lot of the terminology of medicine is based on Latin and Greek for historical reasons. The status of Latin is still strong specially in anatomy. Nowadays Greek and Latin form often the base for a foreign word, but the influence of English can also be seen in medical language. Kellosalo says that the status and use of Finnish varies in different fields of medicine, but is quite strong. However, he thinks that Finnish could be used much more. “It should be a rule that native languages are used to communicate with patients and their families.”

Kellosalo has also artistic aspirations. He has published fiction since 1985, mainly lyrics. He also plays and writes songs.

SNORRE – Standards Norway’s termbase

Standards Norway’s (SN) termbase was launched on 24th October 2011 after a two-years project. The new termbase consists of SN’s internal termbase that contained the Norwegian translations of European and international standards, and Milterm, SN’s external termbase of environment terms. New terms have also been added, all old material has been checked and harmonized, and Norwegian Nynorsk terms have been added.

SNORRE contains more than 53 000 term records and 210 000 terms. The languages included are Norwegian Bokmål and Nynorsk, English, German and French. The subject fields covered are e.g. environment, quality, information and communication technology, energy and health.

The decision to build a Norwegian termbase was based on the report and recommendation of the Language Council of Norway and the language policy of the Government of Norway. The termbase helps to fight domain loss in Norwegian. It is also a modern tool for the translators of standards and ensures linguistic and terminological consistency.

The termbase offers advanced search possibilities. For example, after opening a term record for the chosen term, the user can click on a source link that shows all the terms from that particular standard. The user can also click product information and go to SN’s net shop to buy standards.

Terminology work and online service for education

Learner’s online service (unofficial translation of Oppijan verkkopalvelu) forms part of a project coordinated by the Ministry of Finance which aims at making public administration e-services available to citizens. The Learner’s online service, led by the Ministry of Education and Culture, aims at creating a portal offering services related to learning, studying, applying for a right to study, and career planning.

Terminology work is crucial for the public administration e-service project, which aims at making the information systems of different administration sectors interoperable. The project consists of eight different sub-projects, led by six ministries. The sub-projects aim at bringing about separate e-services, which may however make use of common data.

The definitions elaborated in a terminology project have an effect both on information systems and on people. Definitions of concepts influence even the lowest level of information systems where data is passed from one system to another through servers and interfaces. This makes it possible to improve the quality of e-services, as the user does not need to put in all data every time they use a service, but the services may make use of data that has been put in earlier.

The terminology work done in the context of Learner’s online service relates to education. In the work group, there are experts representing different sectors and levels of education, which makes it possible to harmonize terms and definitions.

Terminology work is done in cooperation between the central work group and the different sub-projects that make up the Learner’s online service project. The sub-projects produce their own lists of terms and definitions, which are then brought to the central group. In the central group, the definitions and terms are harmonized and accepted, and after this, the sub-projects may make use of the harmonized results. This kind of harmonization work is crucial for the coherence of the Learner’s online service, as different sectors often have different terms for same concepts. For example, the use of terminology needs to be uniform so that the service user can compare study programmes that belong to different levels of education.

New edition of Kela’s terminology

Kelan terminologinen sanasto – Terveyteen liittyvät käsitteet (Kela’s terminological dictionary – Health-related concepts) was published in June 2010. After that the terminology has been updated in many ways. Several term records have been updated mainly because changes in statutes have caused changes in the content of concepts. The new edition contains two new special fields: international medical care and interpretation services for the disabled. The term records published earlier include e.g. reimbursements for medical expenses, daily allowances under the Health Insurance Act, occupational health care, disability benefits, rehabilitation organized and funded by Kela, and some pensions.

Kela’s dictionary is compiled in a terminology project carried out by Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, and the Finnish Terminology Centre TSK. The purpose is to harmonize the communication on the social security managed by Kela. The dictionary contains about 320 concepts with definitions, and terms in Finnish and Swedish. For the new edition, the definitions and notes have been translated into Swedish, and there are concept diagrams both in Finnish and Swedish.

The work with Kela’s terminological dictionary continues this year with the definition of housing benefits and benefits for families with children, and perhaps also unemployment benefits. More pension concepts and financial aids for students have already been defined, but they are not yet published because they have not been on a comments round.

The updated edition of Kela’s terminological dictionary will be published e.g. on the address in this spring.

To be a black or grey Moomintroll?

When a recognized theatre manager Vivica Brandler, a Swedish-speaking Finn, phoned to a Swedish actor to discuss a joint theatre project, his four-year-old daughter answered the phone and whispered rapturously to her father: “Daddy, there is a Moomintroll asking for you!”

The intonation and phrases of Swedish-speaking Finns are wondered by many since the Swedish spoken in Finland differs from the Swedish spoken in Sweden. Perhaps this partly explains why the statute translators at least are fanatically interested in terms and concepts and particularly in that they use absolutely identical definitions all the time.

Statute translators must serve many masters simultaneously: the Swedish-speaking Finns must be able to trust that the familiar terms stay the same year after year – even though the original translation perhaps was not so well-formed. On the other hand, translators have to follow concepts created in the EU so that they could start using the same word for common phenomena as in Sweden and the EU – even though it sounds odd in the ears of the Swedish-speaking Finns. However, the Finnish civil servants get nervous if the translators use terms which are established in the Swedish legal texts in Finland but which the Swedish civil servant colleagues do not understand at all since they use another designation for the same phenomenon.

A good example of this are the Swedish terms svart ekonomi (literally black economy) and grå ekonomi (grey economy) and the Finnish term harmaa talous (grey economy). Svart ekonomi is clearly illegal whereas grå ekonomi means just semi-harmless attempts to cheat. In Finnish harmaa talous is illegal and harmful. As a result of this it is wondered in Sweden why Finland focuses on fighting the grey economy when the real problem is the black economy!

Updating the Vocabulary of Real Estate Business

The updating project of the Vocabulary of Real Estate Business, published in 2001, is almost finished. The initiative came from the Finnish Association of Building Owners and Construction Clients RAKLI which also coordinated the project. There have been several small work groups consisting of experts in the real estate field and a terminologist from the Finnish Terminology Centre TSK. The vocabulary has been on a comments round, too.

The old vocabulary contains 105 concepts on real estate business, management and administration, property transaction, lease and renting, user services and repair construction. Terms were given in Finnish and English, definitions and notes in Finnish. The updated vocabulary contains about 30 new concepts in the fields of real estate investing, environmental performance, energy efficiency and property services, and definitions and notes have been translated into English.

The purpose of the terminology project was to update the old vocabulary, to define new concepts and to compile a vocabulary that would better meet the needs of the business to go global. For this reason the concept descriptions were translated into English. The vocabulary is meant primarily for the real estate professionals who need to communicate on the concepts in international markets, but also citizens can make use of it.


Asylum and Migration Glossary 2.0
The European Migration Network EMN has published a second, updated edition of the Asylum and Migration Glossary: A Tool for Better Comparability. The purpose of the glossary is to standardize the definitions and use of terms so that the European Union’s member states could better compare their national circumstances and experiences.

The glossary contains more than 300 concepts which have been given definitions or explanations in English and terms in almost all official languages of the EU. The glossary is available at

Teaching and Learning Terminology
Teaching and Learning Terminology edited by Amparo Alcina contains 5 English and 2 French articles from various writers. The articles discuss the teaching and learning of terminology from different viewpoints: the teaching of terminology theory or theories, the teaching of terminography methodology and practice, and the teaching of technologies for terminology, e.g. corpora, termbases and search engines.

NORDTERM 17. Samarbetet ger resultat: från begreppskaos till överenskomna termer. Rapport från Nordterm 2011 contains articles based on the presentations given in the Nordterm conference in June 2011. The theme of Nordterm 2011 was Cooperation leads to results: From concept chaos to term recommendations. Therefore many of the articles are about the cooperation between the experts of different special fields, e.g. terminologists and subject specialists.

The articles are mainly written in the Nordic languages and few are in English. NORDTERM 17 will be published on

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