The New Terminologist – An All Around Talent

The Translating for Europe Forum took place this week In Brussels and Rodolfo Maslias, Head of TermCoord, made a very engaging presentation focusing on the skills required from terminologists. I recommend you check out his full presentation as it gives an overview of the work that TermCoord is doing.

In TermCoord’s blog post “TermCoord presents their new profile for terminologists“, they indicate that the terminologist “nowadays needs to cover not only linguistic but also communication and technical skills in order to adapt to the huge challenge of gathering, selecting and connecting the accurate terminology with all kinds of new tools assisting and automating translation.” Read More

Who is Who in Terminology: William Whewell (1794 – 1866)

William Whewell was an English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian and historian of science. He was the author of a major philosophy book entitled “The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded Upon Their History”, published in two volumes in 1840.

On Chapter VIII “Of Technical Terms”, Whewell wrote:

  1. “It has already been stated that we gather knowledge from the external world, when we are able to apply, to the facts which we observe, some ideal conception, which gives unity and connection to multiplied and separate perceptions. We have also shown that our conceptions, thus verified by facts, may themselves be united and connected by a new bond of the same nature; and that man may thus have to pursue his way from truth to truth through a long progression of discoveries, each resting on the preceding, and rising above it.
  2. It is now further to be noticed that each of these steps, in succession, is recorded, fixed, and made available, by some peculiar form of words; and such words, thus rendered precise in their meaning, and appropriated to the service of science, we may call Technical Terms. It is in a great measure by inventing such Terms that men not only best express the discoveries they have made, but also enable their followers to become so familiar with these discoveries, and to possess them so thoroughly, that they can readily use them in advancing to ulterior generalizations.”

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Who is Who in Terminology: Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564)

Andreas Vesalius was born in Brussels (Belgium) on December 31, 1514. Considered the founder of modern human anatomy, he was an anatomist, a physician, a professor, and served as Imperial physician at the Court of Emperor Charles V. His masterpiece De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body), is a collection of seven books on human anatomy considered the most influential publication on the subject that revolutionized the study of biology.

In the first book “The Bones and Cartilages” he explained the differences between the different types of joints based on texture, strength, and resilience, and reviewed key elements of descriptive techniques and terminology. He corrected over 200 mistakes of Galen of Pergamon (one of the most accomplished medical researchers before him) and simplified Galen’s anatomical terminology. Read More

What is a Term-Setter?

The term, that I hereby official coin, refers to young people who are thriving in the terminology world. It is the name of my new section that will feature interviews to terminology lovers who have a growing presence in social media and who are shaping the future of terminology. Who is going to be the first term-setter? Stay tuned!

The Classical Schools of Terminology

If you have been reading my blog for a while or already know about the history of terminology, you are probably aware of the fact that terminology didn’t start with linguists but rather with subject-matter experts who started compiling and standardizing terms with a view to improve communication among them and avoid duplication of efforts. So it was practical experience that gave rise to different schools of terminology in those times.

If you have been reading my “Who is Who” biographies, you remember experts-turned-terminologists such as Carolus Linnaeus, Swedish medical doctor and botanist (1707-1778), Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, French chemist (1746-1794), Heinrich Paasch, German-Belgian nautical expert (1853-1904), Alfred Schlomann, German engineer (1878-1952), Sergej Alekseevič Čaplygin, Russian aerodynamics expert, (1892-1942), Ernest K. Dresen, Latvian/Russian-Soviet linguist (1892-1937), Dmitrij Semënovič Lotte, Russian engineer (1898-1950), John Edwin Holmstrom, English engineer (1898-19-) Helmut Felber, Austrian civil engineer (1925-2005), and of course Eugen Wüster, Austrian engineer (1898-1977). They came from different schools and some were even performing terminology work simultaneously from their own countries without knowing that others were doing similar work.

The classical schools of Terminology are the Vienna (Austrian) School, the Soviet School, and the Czech (Prague) school, all of which emerged from the work done by these experts. According to Maria Teresa Cabré, there are three approaches that these schools took:

  • A first approach that considers terminology to be an interdisciplinary but autonomous subject at the service of scientific and technical disciplines.
  • A second approach focusing on philosophy, which is primarily interested in the logical classification of concept systems and the organization of knowledge
  • A third approach focusing on linguistics, which considers terminology a subcomponent of a language’s lexicon and special languages as subsystems of general language.

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Who is Who in Terminology: John Edwin Holmstrom (1898-19-)

Technical terms are to language what the contents of a builder’s yard are to architecture”, said John Edwin Holmstrom in 1959. An English engineer and translator, he worked in close collaboration with Eugen Wüster. Actually, according to Wüster, he was one of the “four dynamic and forward-looking men” of Terminology. He worked for UNESCO from 1949 to 1958 and was, among others, Program Specialist for Scientific Terminology and worked at the Department of Natural Sciences.

This is confirmed by Dr. M. Shcherbakova in “Los orígenes de la ciencia terminológica” who indicated that, according to M.T. Cabré, when Infoterm was created in 1975, it was Wüster himself who said that the intellectual paternity of the theory of terminology belonged to four scientists, among them J.E. Holmstrom, who promoted the international dissemination of terminology and actually was the first to propose that an international organization be created to promote it. So, it was Holmstrom who insisted on the idea of an International Terminological Bureau with the main objective of avoiding duplication of efforts.

According to Angela Campo, Holmstrom oversaw UNESCO’s Universal System for Information in Science and Technology (UNISIST) for the dissemination of scientific information and worked on promoting and disseminating the methods, norms and standards used for handling information. He always insisted on the importance of improving terminology and, to him, terminology was essential for accomplishing his goal.

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Wise Words: Insights from successful terminologists (Part II)

interviews2Following up on my previous blog post (read Part I here) I present today some quotes from more terminologists (hard to pick!). Read the full interviews from these and more experts by accessing TermCoord’s second collection of interviews: Why is terminology your passion. I hope that after reading Part I and Part II, I have encouraged you to access both collections and read the interviews to find your favorite(s) and learn about how terminologists have come to work in and love terminology. Read More

Wise Words: Insights from successful terminologists (Part I)

terminology passion 1You probably already know TermCoord’s “Why is Terminology Your Passion”, a collection of interviews of terminologists who talk about their experience with Terminology and terminology management. So here are a few quotes taken from the first collection. Of course, my advice is that you read all the interviews. Read Part II here. Read More

New role description for terminologists

Jobdesc2Uwe Muegge (@UweMuegge) recently shared in Twitter the result of a joint expert collaboration among several organizations and individuals in the form of role descriptions for terminologists, translators, interpreters (spoken and signed language), and transcriber-translators. Below is their description for terminologists which I have copied from their document. Read other role descriptions and more information by clicking here.

“Terminologists specialize in identifying the terms that are used by subject field experts when writing documents and for oral communication within individual disciplines. They create and disseminate terminological resources by recording terms or using specialized software to “extract” them from texts. They document terms and related concepts by crafting definitions, locating meaningful contexts, and providing guidance for usage. Frequently, terminologists play a role in naming new concepts or new products. They are also experts in using a variety of terminology management software solutions.

Terminologists may work in monolingual environments or they may create terminology resources that provide translation equivalents in two or more languages. Terminologists are often responsible for supporting or enforcing the use of standardized terms in an organization or publication environment. Today, terminologists are at work in foreign language services (translation and interpreting), in technical writing, in standardization, patent, and legal services, in information and documentation, in product planning and marketing, in research and development, in language planning and language maintenance, and in publishing houses (especially for dictionaries).

Many translators and interpreters are trained in the procedures for documenting multilingual terminology, but many terminologists also have training as technical writers, lexicographers, information scientists, and other subject field experts. In addition to courses in terminology management that are offered in translator training and technical writing programs, relevant courses include information management and semiotics, a branch of philosophy. National and international professional organizations conduct special training seminars and workshops, offer certification programs, and some universities offer graduate degree programs in terminology studies.”

Visit my page The Terminologist’s Job Description to read other role descriptions for terminologists.

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Who is Who in Terminology: Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1746-1794)

lavoisierAntoine-Laurent Lavoisier was a “prominent French chemist and leading figure in the 18th-century chemical revolution who developed an experimentally based theory of the chemical reactivity of oxygen and coauthored the modern system for naming chemical substances.”1/

Lavoisier was the coauthor of the Méthode de nomenclature chimique, along with three equally prominent French chemists: Claude Louis Berthollet, Antoine Fourcroy, and Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau. When referring to the key role that subject-matter experts played in the development of Terminology, Maria T. Cabré mentions both Lavoisier and Berthollet in the field of chemistry. 2/

For this biography, I decided to pick Lavoisier as he is considered the founder of the modern science of chemistry and the Wikipedia on chemistry calls him “the chemical analogue of Newton in physics.” Berthollet, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, was one of the leading French chemists, but “second only to Lavoisier”. Also, Lavoisier’s work and his “new chemistry” was the groundwork for the nomenclature. However, I linked the chemists’ names to their online biographies if you are interested in reading more about them. Read More

Who is Who in Terminology: Sergej Alekseevič Čaplygin (1869-1942)

whoiswho2Sergej Alekseevič Čaplygin was an aerodynamics specialist, author of works related to theoretical mechanics on water, air and gas and approximation methods to solve differential equations. Like other scientists of his time, he became interested in terminology after realizing that subject experts were not communicating to each other effectively due to the misuse of scientific terminology (mainly in physics and chemistry). He believed that scientists needed to be more actively involved in solving terminological problems to facilitate scientific research.

In 1933, as member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Čaplygin established the Soviet School of Terminology alongside Dmitrij Lotte. Together they prepared a paper on tasks and methods for the management of technical terminology and founded the Technical Terminology Committee of the Science Academy, whose functions included the creation of a technical and scientific theory of terminology and the establishment of principles for term formation and conceptual systems. He also helped develop terminological systems for the major technological disciplines as well as methods to regulate Russian technical terminology used by scientists and engineers.

If you have a picture of Sergej Alekseevič Čaplygin, please let me know so that I can include it in this post. Or if you have more information to complement this post, feel free to send me a message. Thanks.


Barna, Corina. Divergences et convergences dans la terminologie m´edicale v´et´erinaire pour les vert´ebr´es domestiques entre le roumain et le français. Hal Archives Ouvertes. 2015

Cabré i Castellví, M. Teresa; Freixa Aymerich, Judit; Lorente Casafont, Mercè; Tebé Soriano, Carles. Textos de terminólogos de la Escuela Rusa. 2001.

Darwish, Ali. Terminology and Translation. A Phonological-Semantic Approach to Arabic Terminology.

Dyakov, Andriy. The Terminological Planning in the Former Soviet Union in “The terminological planning as an integral part of language planning”

Martins, Cláudia Susana Nunes. A metáfora na Terminologia: análise de metáforas terminológicas em textos jurídicos do ambiente. Universidade do Porto, 2003.

From Translator to Terminologist: Terminology as a Professional Career

standoutThere are those translators who manage terminology and also those who become full-time terminologists. More and more translators and other professionals are becoming terminologists or have dived headfirst into terminology research and work.

Last week, held its Annual Virtual Conference 2015 “Managing glossaries and terminology” in the context of the International Translation Day, with the participation of renowned guests panelists who have been in the translation business for a long time and who have eventually become involved in terminology work and research, some of them even working as full-time terminologists. Jeff Allen was the Moderator; and guest panelists were Barbara Inge Karsch, Michael Beijer, Jim Wardell, and Mirko Plitt. (Click on the link at the end of this post to read their full bios).

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