Greetings from Stockholm
This Terminfo newsletter focuses on the offerings of the Nordterm event organized in Stockholm in June. Several interesting projects on both research and practical work were introduced in the event.
The researchers of DanTermBank project describe the future prospects of term bank development in their article. At its best technology can decrease the resources needed for terminology work and fasten the work, i.e. help to meet the needs of customers. However, terminologists do not need to worry about running out of work, since human labour is always needed in many phases. Computers cannot yet take care of the most important task. i.e. communication between terminologies and other experts, which is needed when the content of concepts is agreed on and recommendations are given.
Anna-Lena Bucher has 40 years of experience in terminology work
This year Anna-Lena Bucher has worked with terminology for full 40 years: she started to work in the Swedish Centre for Terminology TNC in 1973. Since 2000 she has been TNC's managing director. In the spring the Swedish Academy gave her a language planning prize which is awarded to a person who is distinguished in researching or planning of the Swedish language.
TCN was founded in the 1940s to meet the need to clarify and harmonize the designations of concepts in the various fields of technology. During the first decades TNC did terminology work in the fields of technology. In the 70s interest in terminology work roused in less technical fields, and TNC started to have commissions e.g. from the fields of environment, forestry and geology. Bucher says that during her management the clientele of TNC has changed clearly: in the 21st century TNC's biggest client has been the health and social sector. The nature of assignments has also changed, and new tasks have arisen beside the traditional terminology work. For example, assignments may relate to analysing of information and mapping of data masses for different classifications.
Many web services for health and social sector are being developed in Sweden. Bucher sees that the actors in the field have realized how the expertise of terminologists can benefit development work. TNC has participated e.g. in the translation of Snomed CT, an international health care classification, into Swedish and mapping local health care code sets for a national code set.
Bucher believes that there will be a need for terminological methods and terminologists also in the future. She says that the utilization of terminological services has just recently really began in the Swedish society. “If we can market our skills in the right way and visibly enough, the others will also realize for what terminologists are needed” Bucher reckons.
New kinds of projects also mean that terminologists work in such roles that differ from their roles in traditional terminology work. Bucher thinks that the big future challenge is to find out what kind of tasks these new roles include. In these projects there are other professionals, too, whose work is connected to clarifying and structuring information, e.g. information and data model specialists.
TNC organized the Nordterm event this summer. The theme of the seminar was the different phases of terminology work from planning to the administration of results. In Bucher's experience administration is too often neglected despite of its importance. A terminology project does not end when its results are presented. Instead, a new phase starts which includes maintenance and updating of the produced material as well as its dissemination to users and utilization in practice.
Nordterm 2013: from preparations to administration – phases of terminology work
Nordterm, a Nordic association of organizations engaged in terminology work, training and research, organizes the Nordterm event every second year. This year the event was organized for the 21st time. The Swedish Centre for Terminology TNC was responsible for the arrangements, and the event took place in Stockholm in June. As before, the event consisted of a course, two-day conference, the Nordterm assembly and meetings of the steering committee and working groups. There were about 80 participants, mainly from the Nordic countries.
Before the conference there was a one-day course on data modelling for terminologists. The course was held by assistant professor Hanne Erdman Thomsen from DANTERMcentre. Terminological concept systems and data models were compared, and their differences and similarities were discussed. The best part of the course were exercises that were done in small groups. Both a concept diagram and a data model were done from the same concepts related to video rental, and then the results of different groups were presented and discussed.
The invited speaker Ingemar Strandvik from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Translation talked about the translation of EU directives. Translation is very challenging since the directives have to function in the same way in all the 28 EU member states, regardless of into which of the 24 languages of the union they have been translated. Translation is complicated by the fact that the legal systems of member states differ from each other.
This year's conference theme was the different phases of terminology work from planning to the administration of results. The presentations were divided into four groups: planning and implementation of work and introduction and administration of results.
Hans Söderlund from CSN, a Swedish organization providing financial aid for students, explained why CSN had started terminology work. The harmonization of terms was seen as a way to improve the handling of matters, services and information flow and to develop and monitor work.
Karin Hansson presented the terminology project that have been started at Statistics Sweden in 2012. The objective has been to offer the users of Statistics Sweden's web site a glossary that helps the users to understand the content of the site better.
Katri Seppälä from the Finnish Terminology Centre TSK compared thesaurus-based ontology work and traditional terminology work, and told about the challenges encountered in ontology projects. Mari Suhonen from TSK had a presentation on such projects in which terminology work has been combined to the development of information systems. According to Suhonen the aim of such projects differ from the aim of traditional terminology work: traditional terminology work tries to clarify communication in a certain special field in general, where as terminology work for information systems aims to clarify communication in a data model containing special field knowledge.
Antti Kanner from the University of Helsinki told about the development of the Bank of Finnish Terms in Arts and Sciences (BFT). The BFT project has developed a MediaWiki-based platform that is used both as an instrument of terminology work and as the final storage place for the results.
Niklas Jonsson and Sofie Sundholm described Scania's terminology work. According to them Scania uses even more time to the administration of terminology work than to the other phases. It must be easy to use terminologies. They also emphasized the importance of systematic updating for the usability of terminologies.
All the presentations can be found in the address http://www.nordterm2013.se/program/session-schedule/all3.
The next Nordterm event will be organized in Iceland by the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies in 2015.
Better terms for user interfaces
The terms and icons of user interfaces are essential elements in interaction. They are used for buying and selling, for searching and giving information etc. A user interface contains often terms from many different fields, e.g. technical terms for using the interface, terms connected to the purpose of the interface and terms on the operation of the company that provides the interface.
Terms and icons guide, urge to act and give feedback. From the user's perspective ease of use is important. Therefore the user interface should be such that the user learns how it works when he or she uses it at the first time and later remembers how it works. In possible error conditions – which should be minimized – the user should be given clear guidance.
Efficiency, learnability, memorability, coping with error conditions and user satisfaction are parts of usability. Terminology is a central fact that connects these parts. Therefore the terms that are chosen for the user interface matter. Difficult and inconsistent terms hinder the reaching of target and lead to frustration.
Many principles that are used in terminology work could be applied to the choosing of terms for user interfaces. Suvi Isohella and Niina Nissilä from the University of Vaasa have started a research project where they consider the interconnections of usability and user interface terms.
Quality assurance in terminology management
Unigrafia has published Igor Kudashev's work Quality assurance in terminology management – Recommendations from the TermFactory project. The guide gives recommendations for terminology management and describes tools that have been developed in the TermFactory project of the University of Helsinki. The aim of the TermFactory project is to build a platform that can be used by more than one person at the same time to edit ontological content. The guide can be found in the address http://www.projectglossary.eu/download/QA_in_TM_Kudashev.pdf.
Book of foreign names
The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has published Utrikes namnbok, a book of foreign names. It contains the names of Swedish bureaus, organizations and official titles. In addition to Swedish the names are given in English, Finnish, French, German, Spanish and Russian. The publication can be found in the address http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/108.
Terminology Starter Guide
TerminOrgs has published the Terminology Starter Guide. It is meant for big corporations, administrative units or language service providers who need to manage terminology but have no previous experience with it. The guide is not exhaustive, but it provides readers with an overview of the benefits of terminology management and how to start it, and points them to further resources. The guide can be found in the address http://www.terminorgs.net/downloads/TerminOrgs_StarterGuide.pdf.