TermSetter, Besharat Fathi

I am happy and honored to present the first TermSetter: Besharat Fathi. I have been following her in social media for quite a while and had the pleasure to meet her personally during the last EAFT meeting in Luxembourg last year. I am really impressed with all the work that she has been doing to promote Terminology. I am sure you will agree with me that her story is fascinating.

Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1982, Besharat Fathi obtained a BA in Carpet Studies (Design) at the University of Art. She worked for five years at the Academy of Persian Language and Literature (APLL), Iran, and then moved to Barcelona in 2011, where she obtained a Master’s degree in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF). She continued her studies in Terminology and was granted a research fellowship from the Institute for Applied Linguistics (IULA) in Barcelona, where she currently collaborates on various research projects as well as the Online Terminology Master’s Program. She is now finishing her PhD thesis in terminology planning, supervised by M. Teresa Cabré. In 2015, she started collaborating with the Terminology Committee at APLL on standardization of terminology terms as a specialist member in the terminological and terminographical concepts. This Terminology Committee collaborates with TermTerm (the freely accessible multilingual terminological database on the terminology of terminology) to develop the database in the Persian language.

She has taken part in terminological projects such as “Procesos de actualización del léxico del español a partir de la prensa” (APLE2), “Enlarging MCR”, and “Linguistics documents processing” at IULA. She was also a teaching assistant at UPF for the courses “Terminology” and “Terminology and Specialized Texts” (2016-2017).

  1. How did you get involved in terminology and what attracted you to work in this field?

In 2006, after finishing my BA, I started working at the APLL as a researcher and moderator of terminological committees, mainly in art-related domains and similar fields. In the beginning, we had to take training courses given by the Terminology department, thanks to which I discovered my interest in terminology. That was a big change in my life and I decided to learn more about terminology by taking some of IULA’s online courses and by reading several articles and books.

My professional life changed my academic life entirely and I shifted from art studies to terminology and linguistics. Soon after, I decided to come to Barcelona to continue my studies in Terminology. It was not an easy decision, because I had to leave my job, my country, my family and friends to experience a new life and a new culture. However, I can now say that it was the best decision I have ever made. In 2012, I obtained the highest grade after defending my Master’s thesis, which won the International Award for Terminology (2014). Currently, I am working on systemic and systematic approaches to terminology and terminology planning in which I am highly interested.

The most attractive characteristic of Terminology is its interdisciplinary nature and the broad range of related subjects. Another feature is its complexity and dynamicity for which I have a great enthusiasm. Indeed, working at IULA and being supervised by Professor Cabré was also a privilege that helped me to develop my interests.

  1. You have been working for the IULATERM research group collaborating on Online Master’s program since 2015. What is your role there?

Apart from collaborating on terminology-related projects, in 2015 I started working for the Online Master´s Program as the tutor of the English edition. We are a research and teaching team that works on the online terminology courses.

We have collaborated with other universities and some national organizations as well. I had the opportunity to be a member of this research and teaching group. The objective of the online program is to offer training courses and workshops in terminology for individuals to become qualified professionals in terminology or to acquire skills in terminology-related subjects for any professional activities where terminology and terminography knowledge are required. We also take part in conferences (e.g. RITERM, EAFT) and do research on terminology education and teaching, based on the methodology of Professor Cabré (the Director of the Master’s program) and Rosa Estopà (the Coordinator). This methodology is unique and is based on the Communicative Theory of Terminology.

  1. Could you tell us something about your PhD thesis and the subject?

My PhD thesis is about terminology planning and I have designed an analytical model for terminology planning evaluation which is also used for conducting an empirical research in the Persian terminology context. Some efforts have been made in terminology planning modeling focusing on terminological activities and comparative studies. However, there was a need to develop an analytical procedure to manage the evaluation function in terminology work. My goal has been to propose a model hoping that it can be useful for planners and terminology practitioners.

  1. You are also active in social media, and recently you have started blogging in your own weblog called “Terminosophy”. How did you come up with this idea and why did you choose that title?

In August 2016, I created my Telegram channel about terminology (teleTermino) which was basically aimed at Iranians, because they face some difficulties in the use of other types of social media. Nevertheless, I started publishing in English and I thought it might be also useful for non-Iranians. That was exactly how it happened. I received much attention and encouragement from outside of Iran (special thanks to Rodolfo Maslias and the European Terminology Coordination team, Olga Jeczmyk Nowak and you, indeed, among many others). TeleTermino has been a success for me as one of the first serious attempts in social media activities, however the use of Telegram is not very common here. This got me thinking, and I decided to start blogging as well for the first time and then I decided that instead of posting in my Telegram channel I would continue with my blog which can be available for everyone who is interested in these topics.

Blogging for me is a kind of personal reflection and soon I found it really interesting, giving me a whole new insight. It helps me organize my thoughts and I am learning how to reflect on some complex issues with simple words, and particularly in a language different to my native language. The objective of blogging for me is writing on academic and professional topics in the form of popularization of science, and fortunately I have received very positive feedback thus far. I had created the word “Terminosophy” for my Twitter account as a blend of terminology and philosophy. This combination comes from my interests in both. Then afterwards, I have used the same word for my weblog’s title and some other accounts. It is only a name and it does not refer to any scientific scope or concept.

  1. How do you see the involvement of younger language professionals in social media and the promotion of terminology?

Social media for our generation or younger generations has a big impact not only on our personal interactions but also on the professional and academic activities. The communication tools are constantly changing and the new patterns and trends are vastly based on peer groups and media devices. This is the reason behind the growing number of Facebook groups and social networks in general. We use social networks for various reasons and keeping in touch with colleagues and developing new contacts is key in professional activities. This trend has also affected language professionals and students to the extent that there is a significant engagement of translators and interpreters in Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. However, like any other tools, it has its positive and negative sides. On the one hand, it helps us to develop new connections and get to know each other faster than before; on the other hand, sometimes it could create shallow relationships. In my opinion, it is important to be aware of its functions and try to benefit from the positive sides and to manage it according to our personal values.

In the case of terminology or language sciences in general, it is useful to find information fast and it helps us to communicate with a wider range of readers. But it also implies recognizing the most relevant topics or the most relevant activities that we are looking for as readers. There are many things to read and to do, and definitely one cannot find enough time to engage in all these informative activities. There exists also a major contribution of content creators from institutional activities to individuals’ updates that suggests a selective attitude towards the use of the media contents in which the readers’ proficiency and the content creators’ competency play leading roles in obtaining the most relevant and reliable scientific contents. Personally, I have found many interesting topics and good friends via social networks. It helped me to present my activities to some extent and to feel “connected” with my academic peers.

  1. Can you tell us about your life outside the educational and professional life? What are your hobbies?

As I have mentioned earlier, some of my hobbies are blogging and social media interactivities. I also sing and play music. I used to play violin for years, but recently I have started playing a traditional Iranian instrument with which I feel so connected and content. Occasionally, I also collaborate on some Iranian festive occasions in Barcelona by participating in traditional concerts, exhibitions or cultural and artistic talks.

Thank you, Besharat, for such an interesting and enlightening interview. Keep up the good work and congratulations for everything that you are doing. I know that my readers will get inspired by your story. Stay tuned for my next TermSetter, and if you want me to interview a TermSetter that you know, send me a note.

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