Summaries 3/2007

Nordic cooperation

The Nordic cooperation forum Nordterm was founded three decades ago. During these years it has contributed to the professional know-how and identity of many who work with terminology. Researchers, teachers and compilers of terminologies have been able to meet and share experiences.

Nordterm traditions include an assembly organized every second year where current works are presented, discussions take place and ideas are exchanged. This year the Nordterm Assembly was arranged in Bergen, Norway.

Since the beginning, the strengths of Nordterm have been an informal organization and voluntary participation. The Steering Committee consists of representatives of all Nordic countries and the Sami language area. The chairmanship and responsibility of arranging the Nordterm Assembly circulates between the countries in two-year periods. One strength is also that Nordterm is open to all who are interested in terminology and that it isn’t committed to any terminology school.

The record number of participants in Bergen shows that this cooperation form is still valid today. Terminology work has many common features in the Nordic countries, and Nordterm cooperation supplements well the national and international cooperation.

Tarmo Kopare – senior officer of rescue services doing terminology work

Tarmo Kopare works as a senior officer in the Rescue Services Unit of the Department for Rescue Services in the Ministry of the Interior. He is one of the experts in the preparedness terminology project.

Before the ministry, Kopare worked e.g. in the Finnish Defence Forces, State School of Civil Defence and State Fire Institute.

The Department for Rescue Services comprises five units: Development and Administration Unit, Rescue Services Unit, Accident Prevention Unit, International Affairs Unit and Security Network Unit. The items dealt with are wide, and different units work together a lot. The tasks of the Rescue Services Unit include specially subjects concerned with the standard of rescue services, civil defence, preparedness planning, and guidance and development related to control and alarm systems.

Kopare works with the preparedness planning of rescue services and civil defence, and strategies related to them. He also teaches, and in addition to the preparedness terminology project, participates in many other projects, too.

The changing of language and terms is familiar to those who work in the Ministry of the Interior. With the EU membership and organization reforms the number of new terms increases all the time and the meaning of old terms does not always stay the same. The term critical infrastructure is Kopare’s example of a new term that has been used a lot lately. It was used already earlier, but in the 2000s its meaning has become wider. Now it covers all structures and activities that are essential for the continuous functioning of the society.

Kopare thinks that terminology work is important. "It is difficult to speak about anything if there are no common terms". If different terms are used for the same thing, discussions may take long before consensus is reached. Kopare has a long experience in and profound knowledge on civil defence and preparedness, but no previous experience on systematic terminology work. However, when writing instructions he has been compelled to think about terms and definitions, too.

Kopare says that different terms are important to people working in different tasks. "It would be easy to start with a clean slate, but it doesn’t work – terms have already been defined elsewhere. Therefore compromises have to be found, which can make the work difficult." For example, a layperson does not necessarily think about the interdependence of concepts at all, but in terminology work it is important to find out the relations between concepts.

Kopare is pleased with the preparedness terminology project the result of which, the vocabulary, he thinks will be useful "for all who work in the planning and guidance tasks in this field".

Preparedness and Civil Defence Vocabulary

The terminology project on preparedness and civil defence was started in November 2005 on the initiative of the Finnish National Rescue Association SPEK. The result of the project, the Preparedness and Civil Defence Vocabulary, will soon be completed. The vocabulary contains about 230 concepts with definitions in Finnish, and equivalents in Swedish, English, German and perhaps Russian.

The selection of concepts was quite challenging since preparedness concerns the whole society. Preparedness and civil defence are supervised by the Department for Rescue Services of the Ministry of the Interior, but every field of administration has to prepare to continue its own operation in different special situations and in abnormal and emergency conditions. Preparedness does not concern only the authorities, but also private companies and persons.

The subject fields of the vocabulary include e.g. risk management, normal and emergency conditions, security of supply, civil defence, evacuation, radiation and military defence. The vocabulary tries to give an overview of preparedness, and the most essential concepts of each sub-field have been included.

Since the Preparedness and Civil Defense Vocabulary is based on the Finnish society, the purpose has been to choose such equivalents that correspond with the Finnish concept and its definition as well as possible. It was easiest to find equivalence between Finnish and Swedish, since they both are Finland's national languages. For example, all statutes and many other texts written by authorities are translated into Swedish. The aim has been to choose such Swedish terms that are used both in Finland and in Sweden, but sometimes geographical variants had to be included.

Finding equivalence between Finnish and English and Finnish and German was more difficult. English was easier because many Finnish authorities also have web pages in English, and many Finnish texts are translated into English.

The term records of the vocabulary will be input into the TEPA term bank. The book can be ordered from the SPEK ( The price is about 30 euros.

Terminologist's daydream

Recently I sat by and watched how one important government document was translated into various languages in a big hurry. It was done, but all could have been done differently and the other way round from the terminologist’s viewpoint. Instead that the terminologist steps in the process at the last moment to check and harmonize terms used in the translations, he or she would have been glad to be in the process from the beginning.

In the terminologist’s dream world the consideration of concepts and terms is a self-evident part of making all kinds of texts. In this world the terminologist participates already in the text preparation phase as a terminology expert and is able to get to know the concepts of the subject field, and can perhaps compile small terminologies and suggest better terms.

In the terminologist’s dream world the translator is also present from the beginning of the process. Then the terminologist and translator can start to collect terms in other languages in time. The terminologist also dreams on adequate resources: appropriate number of colleagues doing the terminology work in a functional way, in a sufficient timetable and with work-facilitating tools. The translator has time to do terminology work in addition to translations, and the terminologist has time to update previous terminologies and to anticipate future terminology needs. In the dream the language technology tool yields to anything. It is used effectively to compile project-specific terminologies, to maintain in-house and public term banks, and to publish both paper and electronic terminologies having immaculate layout. It is also cheap and compatible with every other terminology management and IT software found in the world.

TEPA term bank renewed

The TEPA term bank is compiled and maintained by the Finnish Terminology Centre TSK, and it contains terms and definitions on special fields. The TSK’s own material forms the base of the term bank, but it also contains other terminologies compiled by experts. The TEPA has been available to the public since 1987. In 1997 it was made available free-of-charge on the Web. Last year almost 650,000 searches were made in the TEPA.

A project to renew the TEPA was started last year. During the project both the content and technology of the term bank have been renewed. Out-dated material has been removed and mistakes corrected. New material has been input, e.g. some terminologies of the Swedish Centre for Terminology TNC.

The new TEPA is maintained with the MOT dictionary software developed by Kielikone. The interface is now available in Finnish, Swedish and English.

A major renewal compared to the old term bank is the possibility to publish concept diagrams and show Cyrillic alphabet. The renewed TEPA has at the moment 45,000 term records. The new TEPA will be published in the end of September in the old address

Nordterm 2007: knowledge and special language communication

Nordterm 2007 was organized in Bergen, Norway, in June. The number of participants has increased year after year, and this year was a new record was made with 144 registered participants.

The Assembly was opened with a one-day course directed to translators. The program continued with the conference, and one of the most expected speakers was Koen Korremans who has worked with Rita Temmerman and represents the sociocognitive terminology. In his presentation he talked about the situatedness and variation of terms.

Gjert Kristoffersen from the University of Bergen talked about the Norwegian language policy, and Anna-Lena Bucher from Sweden and Bodil Nistrup Madsen from Denmark commented the presentation from their own national viewpoints. Extensive surveys on the status of national languages have been made in Norway, Sweden and Denmark in the 2000s. On the basis of these surveys decisions on language policy have been made, and it has been agreed which measures are taken to secure the preserving and development of both the standard and special languages. The central role of terminology work in developing special language terms has been recognized in all these three countries.

The different roles of terminologists were dealt with in three presentations. Mari Suhonen told about the various models of organizing terminology projects between experts and terminologists. Helena Palm and Åsa Holmér told about projects where information analysing skills in addition to the command of traditional terminological methods have been required from the terminologist. Palm and Holmér emphasized that the terminologist needs the skill to interpret the clients' expectations. Katri Seppälä introduced one new role for a terminologist in ontology projects where terminologists work together with other experts in building ontologies based on index term lists.

After the conference the Nordterm Working Groups and Steering Committee met. During the period 2005-2007 there were two active Working Groups: AG1 Terminology research and training and AG5 Nordterm's Internet information. The research and training group decided to continue the organizing of courses in Nordterm Assemblies.

The Steering Committee decided to establish a new Working Group: AG2 Terminology management tools to keep an eye on the development of tools used in terminology management and publication.

Internet Telephony Vocabulary

The TSK has published the Internet Telephony Vocabulary. It defines about 80 concepts related to Internet calls and gives recommendations on Finnish terms. It also has Swedish and English equivalents.

The primary target group of the vocabulary is consumers. Such concepts that the consumer will encounter when buying equipment and services for making Internet calls were chosen in the vocabulary. The definitions give basic information that is essential for the consumers, and the emphasizing of technical details has been avoided. It is hoped that the vocabulary is useful for translators, editors and PR officers, too. The aim of the vocabulary is to harmonize and facilitate the communication on Internet calls.

The Internet call technology is directly linked to other information technology, and this made the selection of concepts difficult. It had to be decided what kind of basic knowledge is expected from the users. The vocabulary contains quite a lot of common IT terms. The aim was to choose concepts related to such equipment and technologies that are necessary for making Internet calls.

Since the main target group is consumers, such concepts that relate to the Internet call services used by companies and other organizations were left out. The aim was to compile a general vocabulary on Internet calls, the terms and definitions of which can be used in connection with any Internet call service or VoIP software. Therefore trade names were left out. It was challenging to choose recommended terms because there was not just one established term for a concept but different service providers used different terms and their own trade names.

The Internet Telephony Vocabulary is available free-of-charge on, and it will be published on the TEPA term bank, too.


Practical guidelines for socioterminology
The International Organization for Standardization ISO has published the first edition of the technical report ISO/TR 22134:2007 Practical guidelines for socioterminology. The report has been compiled by the technical committee ISO/TC 37 (Terminology and other language and content resources). The report presents the general principles of socioterminology and tells what the aim of terminology standardization is in general. In addition, it tells how the socioterminological approach may be used in standardization.

English phrasal verbs
Englannin fraasiverbit contains about 4000 central British, American and Australian English phrasal verbs chosen for the needs of a Finnish-speaking English learner. The verbs have been given Finnish equivalents, and also information on usage and style is given.

New French-Finnish dictionary
Uusi ranskalais-suomalainen sanakirja by Pentti and Pirkko Pesonen contains about 90,000 French entry words and expressions. It includes a lot of special language terms e.g. on medicine, history, European Union, culture and sports. It also has annexes on conjugation, French abbreviations, French nicknames and a short introduction to the French slang. The dictionary is mainly meant for Finnish users.

Big Swedish–Finnish dictionary
Ruotsi–suomi-suursanakirja by Ilse Cantell, Anu Hietala, Jenni Hurri, Johanna Månsus and Anja Sarantola is a brand new standard language dictionary which contains 120,000 entry words and expressions. The differences between Finnish and Swedish spoken in Finland and in Sweden are taken into account. The dictionary contains a lot of special field terms and grammatical information on inflection, parts of speech and syntax. It is meant for the Finnish speakers both in Finland and in Sweden, and it suits language professionals, translators, teachers, students, scientists and editors.