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The future of (terminology) standards is here

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The ISO Concept Database (ISO CDB) is now publicly available: http://cdb.iso.org, click “log in as guest” (for the time being). In the CDB you can search for terms and definitions in a large number of (most?) ISO Standards. Under “Codes” you can also search for language identifiers from ISO 639, parts 1, 2, 3, and 5.

It took ISO (and a handful of external database experts) years to conceptualize, plan and implement a database that will include not only terms from all its standards, but also graphic representations, codes, etc.

 

All the careful planning was done for a good reason: The ISO Concept Database (or short CDB for the initiated :-)) is a major step towards a revolution in the standardization business. Despite the deveopments in the information and communication sector, standards continue to be produced en mass – and more or less in the same old-fashioned analogous way as they have been ever since the foundation of ISO. With an ever increasing number of Technical Committees and domains that require standardization and the diversification of experts who work on these standards this means primarily one thing: reduplication and overlapping of efforts, and what’s worst – contradicting standards due to a lack of harmonization, collaboration and information about what already exists and may even have been standardized by some other committee years ago.

 

This is an in-efficiency that nobody can afford – and that ISO is going to tackle by introducing  “Standards as databases”. Unlike the traditional, paper- (or at least file-)based standards, the future will coordinate the complex universe of international standards development by introducing a work method and environment that is more up-to-date with the possibilities that are offered by the technical development. However, to develop this for an organization like ISO, that has such a huge number of standards, documents and others to handle, a workforce of largely volunteering experts from companies, institutes and organizations worldwide who do the actual standard development PLUS all the legal implications that brings along means that it is no easy task. But once completed it will be a revolution that will affect us all, because it will make standards easier to be implemented and more streamlined. Another quantum leap towards a globalized world in which really all small components can work together. Or maybe I am a bit over-enthusiastic here. However, I hope you follow me about the immense potential this brings along.

But coming back to ISO CDB: This database is just one piece in the larger picture, but a very important one. Somebody once wrote somewhere: “you can not standardize if you do not all talk about the same and have the same understanding about the issue at hand”, if not first of all the meaning is agreed upon by all stakeholders. And this narrows it down again to terminology – our favourite subject.

ISO/CDB is now public and online. Everybody can log-in as a guest and test it on its Website http://cdb.iso.org, search for terms and definitions of nearly all ISO standards published. Of course, as with all innovations, there will be things that need improvement. But the most important step has been done. It is finally there.

Language Portal of Canada launched

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Canada has been regarded by most of us as the linguistist’s and terminologist’s paradise for many years. And derservedly so. Hardly any other country puts so much real effort into preservation and promotion of linguistic diversity. And above all, these efforts are crowned with professionalism, efficiency and success!

Canada now finally has her one-stop-shop for anything related to her linguistic heritage. The country’s rich linguistic resources are now accessible at the newly launched Language Portal of Canada.

“Through this portal, anybody can finally obtain access free of charge to TERMIUM®, the Government of Canada’s linguistic and terminology data bank. With TERMIUM® finding the right words has just become easier with more than 3,900,000 terms of which some 200 000 are in Spanish” says Gabriel Huard, Director of the Translation Bureau.

He further notes that “the portal also contains a vast array of language tools, a magazine, exercises dealing with problem words in French and English, and a directory of useful links to resources and organizations active in the language field.”

In June 2008, the Government of Canada published the Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality 2008-­2013: Acting for the Future. Within the framework of this initiative, Public Works and Government Services Canada mandated the Translation Bureau of the Government of Canada to design and put online the language portal.

Go to www.ourlanguages.gc.ca

Terminology Summer School 2010 in Vienna – Registration open

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As from now on you can register for the upcoming International Terminology Summer School. The training week will take place in Vienna in the last week of May (24-28 May 2010).

Here’s the link: http://www.termnet.org/english/events/tss2010

India on its way to a modern, multilingual knowledge society

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The Indian government has initiated something that could turn out to be one of the most pioneering projects towards the establishing of the famed knowledge society. Highly multilingual and diverse societies like India have long relied on English as the medium of choice to disseminate knowledge to her people. At the same time it has recognized the fact that a large part of the people do not have sufficient proficiency in that language to make the best possible use of the information transmitted to them in that language. India’s Prime Minister therefore set the stake by demanding to make knowledge, especially in critical areas, available to every citizen – for the sake of nothing less than an educated and informed multilingual society through all levels.

NTM-main

The Prime Minister’s speech was starting point for the National Translation Mission (NTM in short): http://www.ntm.org.in

The initiative is located at the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) in Mysore from where it operates. NTM experts cooperate with various governmental, non-governmental and academic institutions, media houses, publishers and other companies.

Terminology planning, management and standardization are major aspects for the overall success of the mission.

Who will benefit? Well, according to the initiative’s Website all those who have otherwise little access to the knowledge, liker rural and students of weaker sections, teachers of various subject fields, NGOs, volunteers in non-formal education, government and private agencies, media producers and journalists, translators and interpreters, etc.

And hopefully the international professional community from the expertise, products and services by NTM for the Indian languages.

Long walk to freedom for new terms in France

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This great article from Wall Street Journal online describes the way of neologisms through French institutions and expert groups before they become approved new terms.

An excerpt:

PARIS — The word on the table that morning was “cloud computing.”

To translate the English term for computing resources that can be accessed on demand on the Internet, a group of French experts had spent 18 months coming up with “informatique en nuage,” which literally means “computing in cloud.”

France’s General Commission of Terminology and Neology — a 17-member group of professors, linguists, scientists and a former ambassador — was gathered in a building overlooking the Louvre to approve the term.

“What? This means nothing to me. I put a ‘cloud’ of milk in my tea!” exclaimed Jean Saint-Geours, a French writer and member of the Terminology Commission. “Send it back and start again”…

Read the full article on Wall Street Journal online.