Who is Who in Terminology Dmitrij Semënovič Lotte (1898-1950)

Two major developments in the former Soviet Union gave rise to the Russian School of Terminology: scientific and technological progress (and, consequently, little exchange with other countries) and multilingualism. Dmitrij Lotte, the main proponent and an engineer just like Wüster and Drezen (the so-called “spiritual fathers of modern terminology”), recognized that there was a void in technical communication among specialists that needed to be filled through the standardization of terms and concepts.

Lotte was an official of the Committee for the Standardization of Terminologies in the Institute for Standardization of the Council of Ministers in the USSR and a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In 1931, he published an article entitled “Pressing Problems in the Field of Scientific and Technical Terminology”, the same year that Wüster published his doctoral dissertation “Linguistic Standardization in Technics” which gave rise to the General Theory of Terminology (GTT) – two separate events that took place without them even knowing it!

Some of the major works by Lotte were: “Problems of Borrowing and Ordering Foreign Terms and Term Elements”, “Brief Forms of Scientific and Technical Terms”, Foundations of Constructing Scientific and Technical Terminology. Problems of Theory and Techniques”, and posthumously, in 1961, “Fundamentals of the Structure of Scientific and Technical Terminology”

Heribert Picht in “The Science of Terminology: History and Evolution”, explains that the Wüster, Drezen and Lotte had in common the basic approaches to terminology such as: (i) the concept as a unit of knowledge, (ii) knowledge ordering, (iii) term formation regulated by guidelines, and (iv) dynamic standardization of concepts and terms.

The Russian terminology owes its development first to Drezen, who focused on the standardization of terminology but was not interested in working methods, later to Sergej Alekseevič Čaplygin, who established the Soviet Academy of Terminology, and finally Lotte, who did extensive work for a theory of terminology and worked closely with Čaplygin who was an aerodynamics specialist interested in working methods. Lotte’s pioneering work inspired other specialists to continue his work through terminological works and research.

Along with Drezen, Lotte had technical educational background and prepared teaching materials and manuals used at different Russian universities. These two engineers determined the most essential notions linked with the term and its properties as well as the development towards standardization and internationalization of the terminological sphere. He also focused his attention to the creation of terms and borrowings.

Some authors like Pitch even have claimed that Lotte was the authentic father of Terminology, since he became interested in the theoretical aspects of terminology before Wüster, although it was Wüster who was able to model terminology into a dictionary that was the basis of the GTT. While Wüster established the need for linguistic understanding of terminology, and limited his work to the study of specialized terms, Lotte considered that language cannot be “simplified” but that we also need to take into account socio-cultural factors.

[Unfortunately I could not find a picture of Lotte. If you have one or know of someone who does, please let me know.

Sources and further reading:

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

Cardero García, Ana María “Lingüística y Terminología”, 2004.

Contreras Blanco, Fernando. “Sobre la adquisición de metodologías de trabajo profesional y capacitación terminológica en el aula de traducción científico-técnica (francés-español) Propuesta de elaboración de un diccionario de clase de apoyo a la enseñanza-aprendizaje de la traducción.” Doctoral thesis, September 2011.

Darwish, Ali. “Terminology and Translation: A Phonological-semantic Approach to Arabic Terminology”, 2009

D’yakov, Andriy, “The terminological planning as an integral part of language planning” in “The Typology of Language Interferences and Their Role in the Formation of National Terminological Systems”. PhD dissertation (undated).

Terminology Science in Russia today: From the Past to the Future. Edited by Larissa A. Manerko, Klaus-Dieter Baumann, Hartwig Kalverkämper. Frank and Timme Ed., 2014.

Leitchik, V.M. and Shelov, S.D. “Terminology: Where is Russian Science Today?”

Niederbäumer, Angela, German Terminology of Banking: Linguistic Methods of Description and Implementation of a Program for Term Extraction. November 2000

Picht, Heribert. The Science of Terminology: History and Evolution.

2 Comments on “Who is Who in Terminology Dmitrij Semënovič Lotte (1898-1950)

  1. I was very pleased to find this page. I have some information on Schools ofTerminology but only one paper by Lotte, whose importance to the field I am aware. Unfortunately I know not Russian, so it is good when one finds a page,with references that help us to advance.

  2. Thanks for your great comment, Hagar! I’m glad you found the information useful. 🙂

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