New year and new winds
The year is coming to its end and we are looking forward to the new challenges the new year will bring. This year marks the end of the printed Terminfo newsletter, because from the beginning of 2015 Terminfo will be published as an online newsletter only. At the same time the interface and archive will be renewed, and the online publication will become freely accessible for everyone. We have no plans to make radical changes to the content of the newsletter, but will continue to handle all aspects of terminology and ontology work. We hope that this change will bring more readers to the newsletter, strengthen communication and increase interactivity.
Finnish Terminology Centre TSK 40 years
The Finnish Terminology Centre TSK was founded in 1974, so this year it was time to celebrate the 40-year-old association. To honour the occasion the Terminology Centre organized a seminar on 29th October. The theme of the seminar was how to make common concepts available, and the Terminology Centre as a conveyor of terminological information.
Karin Dellby, Managing Director of the The Swedish Centre for Terminology TNC, told about Rikstermbanken, Sweden's national term bank. This public term bank was opened in March 2009. At the moment it contains ca 105.000 term records and terms in 27 languages in various special fields. TNC wants to keep the term bank a reliable and high-quality source also in the future.
Kaisa Kuhmonen, Head Terminologist of the Prime Minister's Office, discussed what kind of national term bank Finland could have. The Prime Minister's Office has been given the task to establish a term bank that is open for all and which supports the use of Finland's national languages.
The definition of concepts as part of statute drafting was presented by Riitta Autere from the Ministry of the Environment. The statute drafting process has been harmonised and improved, and at the same time terminology work has become an acknowledged part of the process. So far the use of terms is rather ambiguous: the same term is used in different acts to mean different things.
Antti Rainio, Managing Director of Navinova, told about the importance of terminology work for geographic information services. As maps have been digitized, a need for new concepts and terms has arisen. Navigators and positioning smart phones have made these services available for consumers. Innovations also mean new concepts, and terminology work helps to intensify planning and facilitates communication.
Matias Frosterus, Project Manager from the National Library of Finland, told about the development of the Finto ontology service. Finto offers a possibility to publish and utilize ontologies and thesauri in a permanent and centralized service that is open for all. Finto service will be developed in ONKI project until 2017, after which the National Library will continue its maintenance.
At the end of the seminar Anita Nuopponen, Professor of Technical Communication at the University of Vaasa, recalled the history of terminological teaching in Vaasa. It began in the 70's, and since 1987 it has been possible to study terminology as a minor subject. The option of terminology studies as a part of the Master's degree programme of Technical Communication started this autumn. The new option is directed at students who are interested e.g. in languages for special purposes or technology and who want to combine economics or IT courses in their studies.
The Finnish Terminology Centre thanks all the speakers and participants! It feels good to keep on working after an inspiring seminar.
Towards common language – terminology of environmental education
The use of terms in the field of environmental education (EE) is ambiguous. For example, sustainable development has as many definitions as there are those who define it. This ambiguousness has been recognized, and a need for a common terminology has arisen.
To meet this need two glossaries have been made. A glossary of environmental education called Yhteinen käsitys (a common concept) was compiled in 2011–2012. The same need was recognized in the field of cultural environmental education, and the terms related to that field were gathered in a glossary during a project on culturally sustainable development in 2010–2013.
The material bank for environmental education MAPPA (www.mappa.fi) was opened in October 2014. Its aim is to make good-quality EE material more available for teachers. There is a lot of good material, but as it is scattered in the depths of the Net, it was difficult to find before it was compiled in MAPPA.
MAPPA web service is based on saving meta data on EE material, so it is important to choose correct descriptors to make finding material as easy as possible. Those who input material in MAPPA do not usually have previous experience on describing material. It was therefore hoped that the indexing tool of the Finto service (finto.fi) could be used as this would keep indexing coherent and minimize the use of descriptors created by MAPPA users. However, it was noticed that all necessary words for indexing EE material could not be found in Finto ontologies. Since terms and definitions had already been collected in above mentioned glossaries, it was decided that they are converted into an ontology. This would improve wider use of these important terms. The ontology expertise was ordered from the Finnish Terminology Centre and the project is financed by the Ministry of the Environment.
The EE ontology will be published as a part of the special ontologies of the Finto service in the beginning of 2015. Via Finto the ontologies will be available for everyone e.g. for indexing material and research. We are one step closer to a common terminology. However, because the world is changing, environmental problems escalating and education methods developed all the time, new terms are continuously invented and the meaning of the existing ones change. The quest of the common language does not stop here.
Role of terminological concept analysis in concept modelling
Katri Seppälä, Director of the Finnish Terminology Centre TSK, and Virpi Kalliokuusi, Senior Planning Officer in the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), have studied the similarities and differences between concept analysis and concept modelling. In their article they discuss how these two viewpoints of conceptual work could learn from each other and how to develop a new methodological basis for the needs of both terminologists and concept modellers.
Terminological concept analysis has been used especially in systematic terminology work. The results of this work are exploited in harmonising and establishing the concepts of a certain branch, trade or special field, and in clarifying the use of terms. On the basis of the analysis linguistic and graphic descriptions of the concepts and relations between them are made (definitions and concept diagrams) and recommendations on terms are given.
Concept modelling is done for the needs of organizational or business planning and development. The aim is to identify the concepts that are essential for the operation and describe the concepts so that the relations between them are expressed in graphic concept models.
In principle, both in concept analysis and concept modelling it is possible to choose a very large group of concepts of the field in question to work with. In practise, the concept selection has to be limited e.g. on the basis of which concepts and terms cause confusion in communication or which concepts are central for organizational operation or information system development. Often other concepts are also included so that the analysis is complete and comprehensive.
It is often difficult to interpret on the basis of the symbols used in concept modelling what is included in the concepts and how they differ from related concepts. The designations of concepts in concept modelling are not always sufficient to delimit the concepts, and the interpretation of concepts is even more difficult if the relations between concepts are not marked clearly enough. Especially associative relations are too vague without verbal descriptions of the type of the relation.
In concept models such features and concept relations are presented that are related to the organization's operation. These are not necessary the same as the characteristics and relations needed to identify and delimit concepts. This kind of information could be added in notes that complement definitions when doing terminology work for the needs of concept modelling.
Sometimes it is difficult to see why certain terms have been chosen for concept models. When the concept model is for health care, why do some terms refer to broader concepts, like organization, when the question is about health care organizations, whereas some refer to the special field, like health care professional (not professional)?
The model as such (terms, features and relations) does not give unambiguous information on the content of concepts or concept relations. When the explanations of concepts in concept models are studied, more information on how the concept modellers have delimited the concepts can be found. Terminological concept analysis and terminological definitions could be utilized in concept models and their explanations.
The principles and methods of terminological concept analysis can be used in concept modelling to bring more exact conceptual and linguistic descriptions in concept models. Especially concept analysis and delimitation, graphic presentation of concept relation types, naming concept relations, specification of concept characters and features, writing definitions and choosing terms can benefit from systems that combine the best parts of terminology work and concept modelling.
Så här ska det låta
Scriptum has published Så här ska det låta – Om finlandssvenska och språkrigtighet by Mikael Reuter. The book deals with grammar of Finland-Swedish and covers matter such as pronunciation, spelling, inflection, sentence structure and finlandisms Deviations from Swedish spoken in Sweden are especially noted and recommendations on avoiding them are given to the reader. The book is aimed at everyone who communicates in Swedish in Finland, e.g. journalists, translators, teachers and civil servants. Detailed publisher and order information can be found in the Finnish article.