Sirpa Suhonen

Going forward with cooperation

Terminology work is a small special field and, as a consequence of this, there are only few possibilities to get training in this field. Therefore all seminars and conferences on terminology and ontology work are important. Through them it is possible to get information on work done elsewhere and to exchange ideas with those who work in the same field.

This makes Nordic cooperation especially important. Terminology work has long traditions in all Nordic countries, so we have gained a lot of experience. This summer all who are interested in terminology and ontology work can participate in Nordic cooperation by attending the Nordterm Assembly in Vaasa, Finland on 7-10 June. There will be a basic and an advanced course on terminology, two-day conference and meetings of Nordterm Working Groups. More information on the event will be added on

Sten Palmgren – developer of legal Swedish

Sten Palmgren is a Senior Adviser for Legislative Affairs at the Ministry of Justice. He grew up in a Swedish-speaking family and learned Finnish in school. Palmgren studied law in the University of Helsinki. Education was given then, as is now, both in Finnish and Swedish. After graduation he worked as a lawyer for a while, and after that as a teacher of law. In 1980–1985 he worked as the editorial coordinator of the journal of Suomen Lainopillinen Yhdistys (Finnish legal association). Cooperation with the editor-in-chief of that time aroused his interest in legal language planning, since the editor was interested in the modernization of the legal language.

Next year Palmgren will have worked in the Ministry of Justice for 30 years. He has enjoyed his long stay there because he has had many interesting and versatile tasks during his career.

In 1982 a public office of Secretary for Legislative Affairs was established in the ministry, and Palmgren was chosen as its first public servant. This office was intended for a Swedish-speaking lawyer, and tasks included both translating legislative proposals into Swedish and participating in bill drafting.

After that Palmgren worked as an examiner of legislation. It was his duty to check that the Swedish law texts corresponded with the Finnish texts. Palmgren tried also to modernize the language of Swedish law texts since it had separated from the standard language. A similar effort was going on in Sweden where Palmgren was in public servant exchange in 1986. Inspired by this, he participated in the compilation of the book Svenskt lagspråk i Finland (Swedish legal language in Finland) as the editor-in-chief. The book was published in the same year, and it is still updated actively: its newest edition was published in 2010 as a guide of the Prime Minister's Office.

Palmgren participated in terminology work in the beginning of the 21th century when the Terminology Service of the Prime Minister's Office made the Glossary of Court Terms and the Finnish Government Glossary. The vocabularies produced by the Finnish Terminology Centre TSK are also familiar term sources to Palmgren. He thinks that it is challenging in translators’ work to find reliable term sources where right terms for a certain context could be found. A term bank like TEPA, which covers many special fields, is a good source for translators of legal texts since translators often need terms of many fields in their work.

In 1993 Palmgren started in the EEA Unit where the accession of Finland to the European Economic Area was prepared. His tasks were juridical, including learning EC legislation and teaching it to others. The EEA Unit contained a translation unit where the EC legislation was translated into Finnish. Cooperation with Sweden was close. The Swedish translators and lawyers translated the EC texts into Swedish and Finland received those translations. Finns helped Swedes to plan the translation process, since Finland had a long experience in translating statutes. In addition to this, Finns commented on the translations made by Swedes.

Term choices have been considered in the EC translations since the beginning, e.g. when a loan term is used and when an established native term. Language planners have always emphasized the importance of native terms in the EC language. Palmgren, however, thinks that in an international context words that look the same are practical, especially if the concept is EU’s own and there is not a national equivalent. According to Palmgren, the media also participated in creating EC terms, for example when the biggest newspaper started to use a certain Finnish word for the European Union, it later became the official designation.

After Finland became a member of the EU, Palmgren moved to other tasks, like Nordic legislative cooperation and better regulation.

Disputes on Swedish terms often occur when it must be chosen between the Swedish terms used in the EU, Finland and Sweden. The common aim of the language planning concerning the Swedish spoken in Finland is that the same terms would be used as in Sweden to avoid unnecessary synonyms and misunderstandings caused by them. The terms of EU laws are primary in EU contexts, and they are also mainly based on the Swedish spoken in Sweden.

Finnish and Swedish legal texts do not have a similar structure. According to Palmgren the different legislation style and technique reflect to the language as well. E.g. Swedish laws are shorter than Finnish laws. In Finland the Swedish law texts are translations from Finnish, which leaves some traces of Finnish in them. On the other hand, terms in Finnish statutes must describe the Finnish system and because of this it is not always possible to borrow a term from Sweden, but a new term must be coined or a Swedish term used in Finland must be chosen.

Vocabulary of European cultural heritage policy

A Finnish Eurooppalaisen kulttuuriperintöpolitiikan sanasto (Vocabulary of the European cultural heritage policy) will be published in February 2011. The vocabulary has been compiled in cooperation between the National Board of Antiquities, the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Terminology Centre TSK.

The vocabulary is based on a multilingual thesaurus built and maintained by the European Heritage Network of the Council of Europe. The thesaurus aims at making communication related to the European cultural heritage policy smoother by clarifying the use of terms in the field. The European thesaurus that serves as the basis for the Finnish vocabulary consists of 590 concepts of cultural heritage. The concepts have been grouped into nine topic categories: 1. Organisations and people, 2. Heritage category, 3. Documentation, 4. Legal systems, 5. Interventions, 6. Professional training, 7. Access and interpretation, 8. Economic and financial systems, and 9. Broad concepts. The concepts have been provided with definitions. The original languages of the thesaurus are French and English, and the remaining 14 language versions have been constructed on the basis of these languages.

The Finnish vocabulary based on the thesaurus contains terms in Finnish, English, German, French, and Spanish. The concepts included in the vocabulary are the same as those in the original thesaurus, and the concepts are grouped into the same nine categories. The concepts are defined in Finnish. In separate notes, information is given on differences between the Finnish concepts and the concepts from other countries, and on the use of terms. The vocabulary also provides information on the degree of equivalence between each Finnish and English concept.

The Eurooppalaisen kulttuuriperintöpolitiikan sanasto will be published in PDF format on the web site of the Terminology Centre, and in addition, the Finnish terms, definitions and notes will be incorporated into the European thesaurus.

Recipe for translation

It is said that too many cooks make a bad soup, but in large or pressing localization projects many cooks, i.e. translators and editors, are needed, in order to finish all the work in time. The larger and more complex the localization or translation work is, the more important tool is a terminology and the more essential product-specific terminology work.

When many persons are needed to translate the same entity, e.g. software, it is challenging to ensure the coherence of translations and term equivalents. All those who have finger in the pie must have access to the same recipe (a terminology) and same ingredients (terms). Of course a translation memory, style guide and other guidelines and source material are also needed, but an up-to-date terminology that contains the basic and repeatedly used terms is the most essential tool in localization jobs of all sizes.

Terms and terminologies from various sources can be used in translations. If the localized product does not have its own terminology, at least a general glossary of the field must be used. However, every client and product has certain individual concepts that have their own special meanings or definitions. To communicate this, a client- and product-specific terminology is needed.

Without a terminology and term management everyone in the project must rack his or her brains e.g. for the names of new functions. Time will be lost in making sense of the same product-specific meanings and in information retrieval. In the end, everyone may choose a different term suggestion or equivalent than the colleagues or the client. If there is no common terminology or if it is not updated, the term suggestions must be unified in the end of the project. In multilingual localization projects correction phases, additional work and costs will be multiplied. And it is also possible that there is not enough time to correct everything.

A terminology is like a recipe to direct the ingredients and outcome of a translation. With a good recipe the entity will not be a messy soup, but a text of uniform quality containing coherent terms.

Vocabulary for implementation of the INSPIRE directive

In the beginning of 2010, the Terminology Centre TSK started a terminology project on spatial data. The project was launched on the initiative of the National Land Survey, and it aims at supporting the implementation of the INSPIRE directive (Directive establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community) by defining concepts referred to in the INSPIRE directive and the related documents. The objective is to provide Finnish authorities with understandable definitions of the central concepts related to the implementation process.

The resulting vocabulary, Vocabulary of Geoinformatics for the purposes of the implementation of the INSPIRE directive, will be circulated for comments in February 2011. The vocabulary contains concepts related to spatial data services, metadata, data product specifications, conceptual models and schemas. Concepts defined in the Vocabulary of Geoinformatics (TSK 32, 2005) have also been included, and a part of them have been updated. Finnish terms are given equivalents in English and partly in Swedish.

In spring 2011, the vocabulary will finalised according to the comments received. Later in 2011, terminology work will be followed by a project which aims at compiling a Finnish spatial data ontology.

Terminology on causes of climate change

Rea Nuutinen, a student at the University of Turku, is making her pro gradu thesis called The Causes of Climate Change: English–Finnish Terminology, and has prepared a small vocabulary of it for Terminfo.

The causes of climate change may be either natural or created by man. We cannot influence natural causes, like variations in Earth's orbit. Human activities, however, have an increasing role in the advance of climate change, and international cooperation is needed to control the consequences.

Perhaps the most important natural cause of climate change is the variation in the amount of solar radiation incoming on Earth’s surface. The vocabulary in Terminfo explains the concepts of solar radiation and heat energy and some coordinate concepts. Nuutinen says that it has been a bit difficult to find Finnish terms since all English concepts do not seem to have an established Finnish term that could be used to refer to them, e.g. English loan words are often used for the transfer mechanisms of heat energy.


Glossary of microbiology
Mikrobiologikilta (Finnish guild of microbiologists) has published a second edition of Mikrobiologian sanasto (glossary of microbiology) published in 2008. It contains more than 1200 basic concepts of microbiology. The terms are arranged alphabetically according to the English language. There are equivalents in Finnish and Swedish and explanations in Finnish. In the end of the book there is a Finnish–English index.

Functional Foods Terminology
The Functional Foods Terminology compiled by the Functional Foods Forum and the Department of English Translation Studies at the University of Turku, Finland, and the Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil, contains 127 concepts. The term entries have been organized thematically into sections: functional foods, probiotics, prebiotics, health claims, sensory evaluation of foods and molecular gastronomy. The terminology contains terms, definitions and indexes in English and Portuguese, concept diagrams in English and a list of references. It is planned that Finnish and Italian terms will be added to the terminology later. The terminology is available on

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