- TSK:n hallituksen puheenjohtaja Mikael Reuter / Minna Isoherranen
- Mer värde i mervärdesmat / Helena Palm
- Sanastotyön kehittäjästä sanastojen käyttäjäksi / Virpi Kalliokuusi
- Stakesin sanastotyö 2000-luvulle / Sirpa Kuusisto-Niemi
- Eurodicautom-hanke puolivälissä / Virpi Kalliokuusi
Mikael Reuter's interview
Mikael Reuter has acted as the chairman of TSK's board of directors from the beginning of this year. Reuter has worked in the Swedish Department in the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland since 1976, first as a researcher and later as the Department Head. He has participated in the activities of TSK almost from the day TSK was founded, and he has been a member of TSK's board of directors since 1996.
Reuter considers that the most important objective during his first chairmanship is to maintain and stabilize TSK's economic situation. A sound economy is an essential prerequisite for the work that TSK does for the benefit of all Finns. The creation and use of Finnish terms is vitally important for the Finnish language so that it will maintain its position as a cultural language.
Reuter's long career in language planning has taught him to appreciate terminology work. He says that terminology work in Finland is of high quality because Finland is a bilingual country. For such a country terminological problems are familiar and a lot of work has been done to solve them. Reuter wants to emphasize the possibilities of co-operation between terminology work and language planning: both terminologists and language planners will benefit from it.
According to Reuter the Nordic language society is essential for small languages such as Finnish and Swedish. "The more international we get, the more important is to use Nordic languages in Nordic co-operation. Finland and Sweden have common goals when it comes to language" says Reuter. He thinks that the threat of English becoming the language of politics, technology and academic world must be taken seriously, but however he still believes in the future of Finnish and Swedish.
More value with value-added food
Helena Palm, terminologist at the Swedish Centre for Technical Terminology (TNC), writes about the concept of functional food.
The designation functional food has been known in Europe since 1991. The idea came originally from Japan where the concept was called foods for specified health use, FOSHU. Since then the concept has caused confusion, because it has been difficult to define and because there are numerous designations for the concept. A typical explanation for functional food is that it is food that has health benefits beyond the ordinary food. This definition leaves two questions unanswered: what is food and what are health benefits?
We all think we know what food is. But if it is claimed that some food has a positive effect on health, it becomes difficult to draw the line between functional food and medicines. And in many countries it is not allowed to suggest that some food prevents, treats or cures a disease.
Before some food can be called functional food, it must be scientifically proved that it has some positive effect on health. But how these health claims can be formulated? Different countries have adopted different approaches. Sweden has established a so called two-step principle. It means that in Sweden it is allowed to claim: "It is important to eat enough fibres to keep your stomach working. Product X has a high fibre content." But claims like "Product X keeps your stomach working" are forbidden.
The Swedish society for doctors, Svenska läkaresällskapet, has a committee dealing with language planning in the field of medicine. Together with this committee TNC recommends that the Swedish term to be used for functional food is mervärdesmat or mervärdeslivsmedel (literally: value added food), because functional foods have more value than just the nutritional value.
From a terminology work professional to the user of terminologies
Olli Nykänen, who was TSK's director for six years, started in his new job in February and, in his own words, "became a terminology work fan instead of a professional". Nykänen worked hard for TSK almost 13 years: he did not just run TSK, he also developed and applied the principles and methods of terminology work in many ways.
The terminological work methods that TSK uses are based on precise concept analysis and systematic definition of concepts. These basic principles were laid down by Heidi Suonuuti and Nykänen adhered to them, too. This means, for example, that the content and structure of a definition must clearly reflect the place of a concept in a certain concept system, that a definition may include only essential characteristics needed to identify and delimit a concept, and that a term must reflect the intension of concept as well as possible. The fact that Nykänen mastered these general principles and methods can be clearly seen in those numerous terminology projects in which Nykänen represented TSK.
Nykänen is very interested in concept diagrams which he used as tools in terminology work and especially in definition writing. Concept diagrams serve both terminologists and special fields experts who sort out concepts and relations between them, but also users of vocabularies who see concepts in larger contexts, not just as separate entries in the vocabulary.
Nykänen has contributed to the development of terminology project organization and management. He studied the cost structure of terminology projects and the way work methods affect costs and effectiveness. He found out that such projects where a terminologist does most of the work are more effective and costs are lower, because experts and terminologists can concentrate on doing that they can do best.
TSK's TEPA termbank was opened to the public in 1987 and since then it has been one of TSK's most prominent services. The responsibility for the development of both TEPA and TSK's other termbank work has rested almost solely on Nykänen's shoulders. When collecting, converting and presenting termbank material, TSK uses the Finnish model of storing terminologies developed by Nykänen and the Nordic terminological record format in the development of which Nykänen also participated actively.
Nykänen is an acknowledged expert in the fields of information technology and terminology, and his expertise was clearly present in many TSK's terminology and termbank projects throughout the 90's. For example, the Finnish Group for IT Terminology was initially started under Nykänen's supervision. This project is based on interactive exchange of terminological material by e-mail and the results are published on TSK's web pages as soon as they are ready.
Terminology work in STAKES
STAKES, the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health, started to do terminology work in late 1993. The work was triggered off by a large project on client documents and patient records. This project revealed the need to define common social welfare and health care concepts for information systems. Terminological work methods and co-operation with TSK proved to be a good model in this project, and since then the co-operation has continued.
STAKES has published two vocabularies on social welfare and health care, and in the beginning of 2000 STAKES opened web pages that contain these vocabularies. Although the defining of basic concepts has just started, STAKES considers what other possibilities it has to enhance the use of terminological work and know-how in social welfare and health care.
One possibility is international co-operation, e.g. in those CEN and ISO committees that have specialized in the standardization of health care information technology. Another possibility is national networks e.g. with municipalities. In social welfare and health care there is no single authority in Finland who could determine the use of concepts in information systems, therefore co-operation and consensus are needed. The third possibility is to apply terminological work on the practical work in the field of social welfare and health care. This has already preliminary been tested in a project where traditional terminological definitions were supplemented with concept descriptions that were presented from a certain point of view, e.g. legislation.
The vocabularies of STAKES are found on the Internet (http://www.stakes.fi/oske/terminologia/sanastot/) and one of them contains English and Swedish equivalents.
Eurodicautom project is halfway through
TSK's latest Eurodicautom project started in October 1999. TSK's job is to complete about 14 000 term records with Finnish terms which will be added to the European Commissions termbank. TSK has participated in the Commission's tenders since 1995, and during these years almost 140 000 special field concepts have been handled in the projects co-ordinated by TSK.
In this competition TSK was given the task is to add terms that belong to the fields of electrical engineering, economy and business, statistics and environmental protection. The subject fields were demanding, and it was necessary to involve some experts outside TSK in the work. One of these expert partners is Statistics Finland.
Statistics Finland handled about 3500 term records, and the concepts were broadly related to the various subfields of statistics. There were almost thirty experts from Statistics Finland and also some special field experts from outside thinking over the Finnish terms for statistics concepts. Experts thought that terminology work was an interesting challenge and were unanimous that a termbank including statistics terms is an excellent tool for those who work daily with statistics.
When handling term records that contained statistical headings, Statistics Finland encountered many special features that are not normally part of termbank work. One of these features is that there is not one, clearly defined concept behind a heading but a kind of combination of concepts that describes the phenomenon to be entered in statistics, e.g. a heading such as officinal herbs, aromatic plants, plants for seasoning. Cultural and social differences between different European countries are also reflected in the terms selected for Eurodicautom, and this makes it difficult to collect Finnish equivalents e.g. for concepts connected with education statistics.
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