Who is Who in Terminology? Alfred Schlomann (1878-1952)

schlomanSchlomann was a renowned German engineer and industrialist who became a terminologist after he started a project of preparing a series of technical dictionaries. Eugene Wüster’s research was partially based on theories established by Schlomann and his systematic ordering of specialized terminologies in specialized vocabularies. In the eyes of Wüster, he was one of the “four dynamic and forward-looking men” who fostered the development of terminology during the first half of the century (alongside de Saussure, Dresen and Homstrom).

The vision inspiring Schlomann’s dictionaries (21 volumes) was that productivity was closely linked to accurate terminology management. By 1905 he had been invited by the Verein Beratender Ingenieure (VBI) to start a multilingual dictionary project, “Illustrated technical dictionaries”, in English, Russian, French, Italian, and Spanish, with illustrations and alphabetical indexes in each language, covering most technological fields and their industrial applications (e.g. machinery and machine tools, steel, oil, plastics, textiles, paper and wood, gas and gas engines, agricultural machinery). He gathered financial support for his dictionary which included a team of 1.000 people (including subject experts to ensure reliability and comprehensiveness of definitions) distributed throughout seven countries and taking over 35 years to complete (1906-1940).

According to the Wikipedia in German, he brought together all the terms of the said six languages ​​on machine parts and tools and completed a systematic grouping of the words related to various specialty areas, such as as screws, rivets, shafts, pipes, valves, hammers, drills, along with images of each object and an alphabetical glossary of references to the main text.

In the words of Peter Lang, “he made a significant step into the semantic representation of linguistic information by presenting the kind of concept-oriented orientation that has become the hallmark of terminology management in multilingual environments. Viewed in detail, Schlomann’s approach established a series of significant precedents for terminology management that are reflected in Wüster’s Machine Tool and in modern computerized terminology database management.”

The dictionaries were called the “Deinhardt-Schlomann Series” as Kurt Deinhardt was the editor of the Series up until Volume XVII. I urge you to read the prefaces of the dictionaries I found below (Volume I for example), which will take you back to an amazing time to those exciting days of terminology work. Not only will you know a bit more, but also you will be honoring and acknowledging with me the work of one of the greatest contributors to the field of terminology. I have added to the dictionaries below some extra information found on the first pages.

Unfortunately, after searching the Internet, I could not find a photograph for Schlomann. If in the future I get hold of his picture, I’ll repost this biography. And if you have a photo or know of someone who has one, please let me know. 

Some of his dictionaries found online:

The Deinhardt-Schlomann Series of Technical Dictionaries in Six Languages. Volume I. The Machine-Elements and Tools for working in Metal and Wood. Together with an Appendix edited by P. Stülpnagel and 823 illustrations. April 2, 1906.

The Deinhardt-Schlomann Series of Technical Dictionaries in Six Languages. Volume IV. Internal Combustion-Engines. Compiled by Dipl. Ing. Karl Schikore, with about 1.000 illustrations and numerous formulae. October 20, 1908.

The Deinhardt-Schlomann Series of Technical Dictionaries in Six Languages Volume XI. Metallurgy of Iron. Compiled by William Venator and Dr. Colin Ross, with about 1.600 illustrations and numerous formulae. April 1911 (Time of preparation: 4 years).

Links to Volumes I through XI (University of Illinois).

Schlomann-Oldenbourg. Illustrated Technical Dictionaries in Six Languages. Volume XV. Spinning, its processes and products. Edited by Schlomann and assisted by world’s expert authorities, with about 1.200 illustrations and numerous formulae. November 1924. Maybe worth mentioning here is that this dictionary included Catalan too as, in Schlomann’s words, “Catalonia is the chief seat of the Textile Industry in Spain”.

Schlomann-Oldenbourg. Illustrated Technical Dictionaries in Six Languages. Volume XVI. Weaving and Woven Fabrics. Edited by Schlomann and assisted by world’s expert authorities, with about 1.300 illustrations and numerous formulae.

Schlomann took over the publication of the fully revised 6th edition (1932) of the Trilingual Technical Dictionary (English, German, French) by Egbert Hoyer and Franz Kreuter.

Further reading and Sources (extracted/adapted from)

LANG, Peter. Modern Approaches to Terminological Theories and Applications  (2006)

LOWE SCHLOMANN, Elizabeth; WRIGHT, Sue Ellen. The Life and Works of Alfred Schlomann: Terminology Theory and Globalization. Beitrag zum 15th European Symposium on Languages for Special Purposes. Bergamo 2005. (not available online)

Wikipedia in German. (see some of the dictionary series in German here).

Wikipedia in Swedish.

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