Motivated (or transparent) terms

When reading about the formation of new terms (neology), you might come across the term “motivated” or “transparent” term. A motivated term represents key features of a concept. Sonneveld and Loening on Chemical Neologisms note that “A term is motivated when a language user is able to deduce, at least partly, the meaning of the term from the analysis of its components. Words that respect the morphological laws are generally said to be motivated”. Termium defines it as “transparent term”, as follows: “A term whose meaning is readily understood from the form or meaning of its main components, e.g. energy-efficient building”.

In her article “High Tech Translation in the Information Age”, Heather Leighton provides an example with the term “thesaurus” and its translation into Spanish: “She gave me the example of the term “thesaurus” which is a word-processing feature in the software that her company markets. Pointing and clicking on the “thesaurus” arrow gives access to a drop-down menu of synonyms (called sinónimos) that the end user can choose from. The Spanish translation of “thesaurus” poses a problem since it is a word that designates two different concepts: thesaurus and treasure. In order to avoid this ambiguity, terminologists and translators choose a key characteristic of the concept as a suitable term. In this particular case, sinónimos was chosen instead of tesoro. Translators and terminologists refer to this as a motivated term: a term which represents an essential characteristic of the concept.”

And just as we have motivated terms, we also have unmotivated terms. Take for example, the financial term “greenmail*”. You would not be able to figure out its meaning just by analyzing its components; unless we start receiving some type of environmentally friendly mail in our mailboxes!

Sources and further reading:

Standardization of Technical Terminology: Principles and Practices. The Road to a Truly Authoritative Chemical Dictionary, Kurt. L. Loening

Essays of Terminology, Alain Rey


* Greenmail is the process in which a buyer acquires a large number of a target company’s shares and threatens a hostile takeover but, instead, forces the target company to then buy back their shares at a higher price. (Divestopedia)

The Basque Centre for Terminology and Lexicography (UZEI)

Last year, during the Eighth European Terminology Summit in Luxembourg, I had the pleasure and the honor to meet Imanol Urbieta, manager of the Basque Centre for Terminology and Lexicography (UZEI), and Begoña Arrate, a terminologist at UZEI. So after a short break from blogging, I am very pleased to start again by presenting a brief profile on UZEI.

The Basque Centre for Terminology and Lexicography has been providing linguistic services for almost four decades now. In fact, it will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018. Terminology is its core activity, the main outcome of which has been the creation of EUSKALTERM, a public terminology databank, which UZEI has maintained since 1989.

UZEI also focuses on other activities such as lexicography, linguistic corpus management, specialized translation, and software tool development. As a result, UZEI supports the lexicographic work of several task groups of The Royal Academy of the Basque Language (Euskaltzaindia), and is regarded as a technological agent by the Basque government. Moreover, it is a member of the Basque Science, Technology and Innovation Network.

UZEI’s research activities have also resulted in the development of an advanced translation memory management program, a Basque spelling and lexical checker (HOBELEX), a Basque text anonymizer, as well as several diagnostic tools for terminology usage. Its line of work in language technology includes text corpus management, translation technologies, natural language processing tools, and the creation of terminology dictionaries and lexicons.

UZEI currently has a staff of 17 employees and an estimated budget of €800,000, 3% of which is allocated to research, development, and innovation.


I’m back!

Slowly but surely, I will restart publishing soon. It’s been about a month since my last post, but I had a few personal issues to deal with, from moving to a new place to closely monitoring my family’s situation in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. As you know, I am originally from Costa Rica, but my older sister and her family have been living in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico for many, many years. I finally got a call today from her saying that they are fine. We had heard from our nephew a few days after the hurricane that they were fine, but there’s nothing more reassuring than being able to talk to them after so many days without communication. There is a lot of damage in Puerto Rico. Food, gas, and water are scarce, but they are trying to get ahead.

I will start posting soon, but in the meantime, please look for a way (Red Cross or other organization) to make a donation for Puerto Rico.

Thank you to those who have been asking and I am deeply touched by your messages and a special welcome to the people who have been subscribing to my blog during my absence. The world is going through tough times, but it is our obligation to keep doing what we are doing, to take care of our friends and family and to help those in need.



Term Time: Terminology resources in Connections Magazine

It’s been a busy period for me. No vacation, mostly work and moving to a new apartment. I still need to get back on my feet, so I appreciate your patience. In the meantime, check out my latest contribution to the translation magazine Connections:

For other magazine editions visit my tag cloud TermTime



Corpus analysis: The Ugly Duckling of Translation

The American Translators Association blog, The Savvy Newcomer, published my guest post on corpus analysis. Check it out and, if you like it, share!

Corpus analysis: The Ugly Duckling of Translation




Nomenclature, Terminology, and Symbols Committee (USA)

The Nomenclature, Terminology, and Symbols Committee is one of the many committees that operate within the American Chemical Society in the United States.

Thirty-five chemists met at the College of Pharmacy of the City of New York on April 6, 1876, to found the American Chemical Society. Seven months later, the first president of the newly formed society, John William Draper, delivered his inaugural address at Chickering Hall in New York.

The Committee examines problems and monitors developments in nomenclature, terminology and symbols, coordinates the activities of divisional and other committees dealing with such matters within the Society, advises and consults with editors of Society publications in matters related to nomenclature, terminology and symbols, acts for the Council in the consideration and action on such documents and proposals presented to the Society, acts for the Council in providing liaison in matters of these issues with non-Society organizations, and makes recommendations to the Council in matters related to these issues.

The Committee strives to serve the Members of ACS in matters of Nomenclature, Terminology and Symbols by:

  1. Maintaining a Committee membership that is expert in various fields of nomenclature, terminology and symbols;
  2. Providing leadership in the field of nomenclature, terminology and symbols and cooperating with both national and international terminology committees through joint membership and other forms of participation by committee members;
  3. Presenting a Committee web page which can serve as a starting point for information on matters relating to nomenclature, terminology and symbols;
  4. Supporting ACS publications, including C&EN, and ACS membership by providing guidance in matters of nomenclature, terminology and symbols;
  5. Expanding membership on the Committee to include individuals active in pre-college education.

Extracted from ACS’s website:

SmarTerms 13: Orismology

World Wide Words explains that the creation of the term orismology was an attempt by entomologists William Kirby and William Spence to replace “terminology”, which they didn’t like because it was formed by a Latin stem and a Greek suffix. In this way, in an 1816 publication, they coined their own term: orismology.

Although its use is rare, I thought it would be interesting to learn a little bit of history about it. World Wide Words also explains that orismology, besides being an alternative to terminology is also defined as “the science of defining technical terms” by some major dictionaries such as the Merrian Webster.

According to the Wikipedia, “Orismology is the identification, specification, and description of technical terms. The word is constructed from the Greek: orismos (definition) and logos (word, reasoning, study).” In their Introduction to Entomology, Kirby and Spence indicated that: “In the terminology, or what, to avoid the barbarism of a word compounded of Latin and Greek, [Kirby and Spence] would beg to call orismology of the science, they have endeavoured to introduce throughout a greater degree of precision and concinnity* in the terms used to talk about insects.” This approach to naming is particularly applied to disciplines in natural sciences like Kirby and Spence’s entomology that depend upon classificatory schemes, such as taxonomies and ontologies, to organize, name, and address their subject matter.” Read More

e-book: Terminology in the Changing World of Communication by Rodolfo Maslias

If you haven’t heard yet, Rodolfo Maslias, who heads the Terminology Coordination Unit (TermCoord) of the European Parliament, has recently published this e-book which gathers his articles related to Terminology and language. What best way to spend your summer than learning from this world-renowned Terminologist! This is the table of contents:

Terminology in the Changing World of Communication

Terminology matters everywhere
Terminology opens a door in the labour market
Save the European linguistic diversity
Language as a living being
One cloud: All Terminology – All languages
Let’s IATE from home!
Lithuania and Lithuanian: A best practice
Mastering Terminology
Terminology in one click
The International Day of Translation 2014
Three steps for an efficient terminology management
Terminology: a communicative and academic approach
Extending Terminology to new horizons: TermCoord experiments with the semantic web technologies
Have you ever thought of using Greek and Latin for marketing?
Terminology from the past to the future
EU legislation – a multicultural challenge
EU-Recht – eine multikulturelle Herausforderung
Interview : Why is Terminology your passion?
About the author

Happy reading!

Where do I find job as a Terminologist?

So far, the only person that I know posts every day about openings for terminologists and translators is terminologist, Uwe Muegge, who is the Manager of Arthrex, Global Language Management. He posts every day in Twitter, so your best bet will be to follow him. If you know of any openings, let me know, and I can also share the information here.

Here is Uwe’s Twitter account: and Linkedin profile:

Humanterm – Multilingual glossary for the humanitarian field

I am sharing with you this multilingual (five languages) terminological resource. I was captivated by this quote on their page: “Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground”. Noah Webster (1758-1843).

Humanterm is an R&D Project funded by the Universidad Europea de Madrid for a year with the aim of creating a terminological multilingual glossary for translators working in the humanitarian field. More specifically, Humanterm concentrates in:
• Compiling documents for term identification and extraction
• Uploading these terms into a collaborative platform that allows for public access and collaboration.

Terminologist at Work – Get your decal!

Martina Russo, owner of Freelancer at Work, released this year a new decal for Terminologists. I just got mine and decided to put it in my office instead of my laptop and I’m getting great comments.


You can order your “Terminologist at Work” here:


Of course, I had to take a picture to share with you! Huge thanks to Martina for this initiative!

Terminology resources in Delicious

I just updated the link to my Delicious resources. Check it out and see if you are missing something in your own list and let me know if you have other resources that could be added.

Here is the link:

Happy searching!