The Stages of Terminology Work

The role of a terminologist is to gather the terms covered in a specialized field in one or more languages select a term or coin a new one, and compile them in a terminological collection that can be recorded in terminological databases for future use. The terminology work that s/he performs is based on terminology rules and procedures.

Terminology work can be ad-hoc or systematic. Ad-hoc terminology is prevalent in the translation profession, where a translation for a specific term (or group of terms) is required quickly to solve a particular translation problem. Systematic collection of terminology, which deals with all the terms in a specific subject field or domain of activity, often by creating a structured ontology of the terms within that domain and their interrelationships

T. Cabré mentions five stages of terminology work and makes a differentiation with the terminology work using corpus and computer tools, more specifically for stages one and three.

  1. Definition and delimitation of the work: Subject is presented and knowledge on subject matter is acquired. The work is delimited by subject, target group, objective and scope. The work is also defined in terms of the macro and micro structure of the work (type of entry, order of entries, linguistic and extralinguistic information available for each entry, etc.). This last step is excluded for a computerized process.
  2. Preparation of the work: More information is acquired and selected and the knowledge is structured versus macro and micro conceptual structuring, and the work plan is prepared.
  3. Elaboration of the terminology: The stage includes five steps for manual terminology work: compilation of work corpora, terminological extraction, creation of the extraction records, analysis and revision of extraction records, and elaboration of terminological records.

In a computerized procedure, the steps vary in process and number: compilation of the work corpus using digitalized text corpora or the Internet, structural, morphological and syntactic markup of the texts (optional, according to the corpus analysis program used), disambiguation (also optional), automatic and assisted terminology extraction, revision or assisted terminology extraction, revision of the term list, automatic information transfer to a database, and manual or assisted completion of the records.

  1. Work supervision: Covers two steps: analysis and revision of terminological records and resolution of problematic cases.

For multilingual terminological work, M. T. Cabré further explains that terms that belong to the same concept should be correlated for every language, making sure that definitions and illustrations are used for verification of concepts. The terminologist must fill in all the blanks in every language by consulting specialized works and subject-matter experts, as necessary.

  1. Presentation of the work: Also covers two steps: presentation of the terminological glossary and edition.

To learn more, I suggest you also read Chapter 5 of COTSOES’s Recommendations for Terminology Work related to terminology methods (see link below).

Sources and further reading:

Cabré, M. T. (1999) Terminology in practice: Terminography”. Terminology. Theory, methods and applications. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 115-159

COTSOES. Recommendations for Terminology Work

Sager, J. C. (1990) A practical course in terminology processing. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 152-153.

Terminology. Wikipedia [consulted on 29/5/2017]

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