Repeat it again: Tautology

tautologyWriting definitions is a challenge, I know. But the truth is definitions are key to understanding the intricacies of a concept. The reason why this type of error is so persistent in our definitions probably signals towards lack of knowledge. I remember when I was in school as a young girl, a grammar teacher told us it was OK to write definitions like this: “To procure: the action and effect of procuring”.

I still remember it today when I write definitions or translate text that seems to be playing trick games with me. So I wanted to talk briefly today about Tautology: The repetition of information that has already been provided in the term. The Webster Dictionary defines it as “a statement in which you repeat a word, idea, etc., in a way that is not necessary”.

Simple examples of tautological definitions are:

  1. A unicorn is a beast with one horn.
  2. Metal is something made of metal.
  3. Customer ID is defined as “The identifier of the Customer.
  4. Repeat it again (See post title above!)

Mind you, these are easy examples, and when we have to write more complex definitions, sometimes we might be overlooking this issue. Tautologies can be common in some languages with a large number of words borrowed from other languages. But tautology is not only present in definitions. Acronyms also might also contribute to tautological issues (think DVD disk, HIV virus, ATM machine, etc.). Advertising is also tricky. Phrases such as “The store is giving away free tickets” are tautological.

However, not everything is negative about tautology. It is used in poetry, prose, and songs. For the curious minds, you may consult this page on examples of tautology as a literary device:



The Pavel Terminology Tutorial. Tautology

The Beye Network. Business Metadata: How to Write Definitions.

Literary Devices: Tautology

Your dictionary. Examples of Tautology


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IULA/UPF Terminology Master – Registration open for online English and Spanish programs

pompeuRegistration is open for the Spanish and English online programs of the Terminology Master offered by the Institut de Linguística Aplicada of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain). The details in both languages are provided here:

Needless to say, I highly recommend it, whether you take it in English or Spanish.




Turning the spotlight back to the POS (Part of Speech)

POSAlthough POS is not a mandatory category when working with termbases, (ISO mandatory categories are term, source, and date) it has been recognized as a highly suggested category, as pointed out recently by Kara Warburton during her webinar “Getting value of your Excel glossaries”. In her own words, “as soon as there are different parts of speech there are different concepts”.

According to Terminorgs, “the most important non-mandatory data category is the part of speech” and it is required for the following purposes:

  1. “To differentiate homonyms. For instance, port is actually two terms in English: a noun, and a verb, each of which should be recorded in its own entry. Without a part of speech value in the entry, it can be difficult to determine which term the entry represents, and therefore, how to translate it.
  2. To permit automated processing. The part of speech is required for automated tasks such as importing a set of entries into an existing termbase, applying grammatical filters to facilitate search and export of data, and providing the terminology as a resource to other applications such as spell checking applications.
  3. To enable interchange. When there is no part of speech value, it becomes necessary to discuss many of the entries with the originator in order to disambiguate their content.”

As you can see, having a clear understand of how the POS works is key to having a coherent and efficient database. Make sure that you use it appropriately to increase the quality of your termbase, for example, to avoid writing a definition for a noun and setting the POS as a verb.

Terminogs TBX-basic
Terminogs Starting Guide


“Getting value out of your Excel glossaries” a webinar by Kara Warburton

webinarimageAs I mentioned in a previous post, terminologist Kara Warburton (Director of Business Development and Technical Support for Asia Pacific at Interverbum Technology – ‎Interverbum Technology) recently gave a presentation in the form of a webinar. Mats Granstroem, Product Development Manager, facilitated the webinar. If you missed it, the organizers have added the video in YouTube. Stephan Olsson, Marketing Manager, shared the link with us:

The presentation lasts about 35 minutes plus an additional 12 minutes of Q&A. Most importantly, Kara asked that people suggest new topics for future webinars on Terminology. I invite you to write to Kara or Mats and suggest new topics: or

I also highly recommend that you watch this webinar. It is the best way to gain confidence and manage your terminology efficiently.

Happy learning!


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Book giveaway “Teaching and Learning Terminology”

Book-GiveawayThis book is in my collection of terminology books, but I thought that it would be in better hands of a translation/terminology professor.

I only have one copy so the person who will receive this will be a university professor involved in terminology training. “Teaching and Learning Terminology” (2011) is edited by Amparo Alcina of the Universitat Jaume-I, Castellón, Spain, and gathers seven articles from terminology professors in several universities. All articles are in English except two that are in French. So I’d say that if you also can read French this is for you. I will also give preference to that person who does not have access to terminology books in his/her country.

Each article describes programs and experiences that the authors have in teaching terminology at university level. Here is a list of the articles: Read More

Pricing for terminology work

financial-decision-makingI have seen in the past a few discussions on social media about how much we should charge for terminology work. This topic has been also previously discussed by Barbara Inge Karsch in her 2010 blog post What do we do with terms?

It is important to make a differentiation between terminology work done during the translation process and terminology work done by a terminologist. In this post I refer to general terminology work done in translation, since doing terminology work for a company or organization is dependent on many factors that are usually out of our control (mainly budget restrictions).

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Terminology goes to Telegram!

TTelegram_logo.svgelegram Messenger ( is a cloud-based instant messaging service and I recently learned about two channels that will probably interest you.

The first one is the channel of IULATerm of the Institut Universitari de Lingüística Aplicada (IULA) at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF). The first telegram was sent on September 15 and, since then, telegrams have included profiles and quotes from distinguished terminologists and other terminology-related news.

You can connect with them here: Their Twitter account is @iulaonline_UPF.

The second channel is a non-profit, freelance Research Gate project (Terminology Science Promotion). It is called teleTermino and it was created by terminologist Besharat Fathi on August 5th. (You can read her bio below.) Besharat is originally from Iran and she realized that linguists from her country had difficulties connecting to social media, so she came up with the idea of this channel as a way to give them easy access to information on terminology. Read More

KWIC, KWAC, and KWOC (not a knock-knock joke!)

corpuslinguisticsYou might have heard about at least one of these. They are abbreviations used by concordancers used in indexing. So you will also hear about kwic index, kwac index or kwoc index which contain keywords used as “access” terms in such indexes.

KWIC stands for “key word in context”. It is the most common format in concordancing and was coined by Hans Peter Luhn. It dates back to the sixties, when scholars started using computer programs to search for key words and generate lists of words in alphabetical order, enclosed by the context in which they occurred. These were known as KWIC indexes, which were used not only for information retrieval but also for content analysis. There are a few KWIC programs that you might want to check out (besides the one featured in AntConc and other programs): Read More

New Resources Portal, University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria

I was recently contacted by FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Georg Löckinger of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria who shared with me an online information portal developed by the university’s bachelor’s degree programme “Product Design and Technical Communication”. Most resources are in German, but you will find useful resources in other languages, too.

Here is some background shared by Professor Löckinger about this project and the link to the portal:

“In 2015, a group of students at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria (bachelor’s degree programme Product Design and Technical Communication) carried out research on technical writers’ use of tools and their information research activities. The study showed that while there are quite some free language resources (such as terminological databases) and language technology tools (such as for text analysis), no directory of these is available. In a follow-up R&D project, students and teachers have thus developed an information portal on language resources and language technology tools, which has been published here. The portal is designed to support technical writers, translators, interpreters as well as documentation and terminology experts in their daily work. While the information portal itself is available in German only, many of the resources and tools listed cover other languages, too.”

By the way, you should also check Dr. Löckinger’s list of terminology-related publications by clicking here. They include titles such as “Reimagining Terminology Management in an Encyclopaedic Context”, Intensional Definitions”, and “Selected Topics in Terminology Work: Best Practices and Beyond”, among others.

Thank you, Professor Löckinger for sharing this valuable information with us. It is always interesting and encouraging to find this type of platforms, even if I don’t speak German, asI think it gives us a good overview on tools available in other languages.

Getting the value out of your Excel glossaries. A webinar by Kara C. Warburton

This is a one-hour seminar that looks very interesting. I have taken several webinars with terminologist Kara Warburton in the past and have used her as reference in several of my blog posts. I found the information today in LinkedIn’s Terminology Group. Kara is the Director of Business Development and Technical Support for Asia Pacific at Interverbum Technology, and she is active in promoting terminology management awareness.

Here is the link to register:


This is the note she shared in the group: “If you have glossaries in Excel format, don’t miss this webinar. You’ll learn tips and tricks for modifying glossaries to make them more usable by translators, and easily importable into a term database so that they can be used in CAT tools as well as in other applications. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to use what you have to improve translator productivity and translation quality.”

I´m glad I found this webinar on time to register. I hope you register too.

Happy learning!

Coming up: Corpus Linguistics course │ U of Lancaster, Future Learn

corpuslinguisticsI don’t think I can thank the University of Lancaster and Future Learn enough for this online course which I took last year. You might have noticed that I have published a few blog posts about AntConc and other tools. Well, this is your chance to enroll in the best course on corpus analysis that you can find. And of course, is free. Class will start on September 26, but you may enroll at any time.

As it turns out, I will be giving an informal presentation on the use of AntConc and other tools to my translation colleagues this week, so, as you can see, I have made ample use of the things I learned. And I would take it again this year if it wasn’t for other work commitments, but I invite you to give it a try. You can go at your own pace so you can do this even after the course deadline is due. The instructors are the best in the field. What else can you ask for? Enjoy!


Your questions answered: Terminology management and SDL MultiTerm

Learn TerminologyFourth webinar summary is here! Robert Muirhead was the moderator for the last webinar by SDL Trados, and the speaker was Tom Imhof from localix.bix. After three amazing webinars, it was hard to keep up with the others, but he made a great presentation that turned out to be one of my favorites. The information presented by Tom was extremely useful. A good refresher’s course for all of us, whether you use Trados or not!

Here is the link to the full video:

I am aware that my recent posts summarizing these webinars have been way too long, but I truly believe that they all contain valuable information, particularly for beginners, as a great introduction to terminology work. In this webinar, Tom covered basic theory up until minute 18, and then he moved to a practical example by creating a termbase with MultiTerm 2015. So this post will only cover the theory and then you can watch the rest starting on minute 18.

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