Terminology planning for many years has been regarded part and parcel of language planning, in particular the area dealing with corpus planning and lexical expansion. More recently, with the emergence of fast-paced globalization and the rapid development of modern information and communication technology, and its impact on global, multilingual communication and knowledge transfer, the role of terminology has been reassessed by many scientists as well as communities of use, such as industry and service providers, language planning institutes, etc.

 

A number of arguments speak in favour of regarding terminology policies as separate entities. For one, terminology is increasingly regarded as a strategic and central element for communication and knowledge transfer processes that requires regulation.

 

Furthermore, terminology does not only affect linguistic affairs. Rather, it may be an important issue in education, economic development, information and communication, and other sectors of a nation. In some of these sectors a national language policy may not, or only partly, valid. And even if we continue to regard terminology planning as part of language planning, we may argue that the complexity and interconnectedness of terminology matters with others justifies a separate treatment.

 

An article by Galinski, Budin and de V Cluver, titled Terminologieplanung und Sprachplanung, and published in Hoffmann, L.; Kalverkämper, H; Wiegand, H.E. (eds.) Fachsprachen/Languages for Special Purposes (1999) elaborates on differences and overlapping areas between the two. It is published in German language, but in the UNESCO Guidelines for Terminology Policies (http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=20896&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html) a synapsis of the paper is available in English and French.

 

Terminology planning, while still being a major constituting element in language planning processes, is now regarded from many different angles beyond linguistics, too. With the number of stakeholders growing in the different communities of use, so does the variety of requirements for the development and management of terminologies. Which these are, always reflects their pragmatic environment, the real situation with all its features. Terminology policies therefore must be designed to fit perfectly into this environment, yet be adaptable to change, when the environment changes. Some studies exist with regard to terminology planning.

Most notable the study by Bassey Antia “Terminology and language planning”, which, in an example from language planning from his home country Nigeria describes and examines principles, methods and workflows for terminology creation and standardization in language planning. The institutional situation and frame is of utmost importance for an efficient (i.e. under best-possible deployment of infrastructure, human and financial resources), and effective work (i.e. sustainable, with measurable results that have a real perceived impact on a defined target group).

Such frame conditions only in very rare cases are given and guaranteed long-term by a funding and supporting body, e.g. a government. Therefore, it falls under the tasks of the terminology planner or planning organization to create, or to sustain them and thus enable the expert work of terminology planning, management and standardization over as long a time as necessary.

To achieve this goal, a policy is needed, in the meaning of an officially approved systematic plan and recorded regulation with regard to the creation, management or handling of terminology in an organization or language community. Infoterm’s research and expertise concerns the pragmatic environment in which terminology planning takes place.

 

There are a number of studies by Infoterm on the policy-making process on their Website and in Wikipedia. And Infoterm also compiled the UNESCO Guidelines for Terminology Policies. In 2006 a standardization project was initiated under the International Organization for Standardization to develop a methodology standard based on the Guidelines, but including also the interest of professional organizations. If you are interested in terminology planning and minority languages you might want to read the Proceedings of the Special Seminar on Terminology Policies and Minority Languages, organized by the European Association for Terminology in Dublin in 2007.

The proceedings are available at TermNet Publisher or contact termnetpublisher@termnet.org.

Infoterm Website: http://www.infoterm.info/activities/terminology_policies.php

Article on Terminology Policies (in German): eDITion, magazine of the Association for German Terminology (DTT)

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