Terminology Coordination at the European Parliament

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Logosubmitted by Rodolfo Maslias, Head of Unit, DG TRAD – Terminology Coordination Unit

What we do

The Terminology Coordination Unit, known as TermCoord, coordinates the production of terminology in 23 languages of the Translation Units of the European Parliament through a network of more than 100 translators having a special terminologist profile. With this we enable a swift and efficient storage of high quality terminology in order to increase the contribution of the European Parliament to the inter-institutional terminology database IATE, which is the main source for reliable EU terminology (it contains roughly 8.5 million terms and receives on average 3 500 queries per hour from all over the world). With various topic-specific projects involving linguists, terminologists and trainees the content in IATE is constantly improved and consolidated. TermCoord welcomes trainees with interests in the field of terminology who are trained and involved in the terminology projects and all other activities of the unit.

Training, seminars and workshops

We organise terminology-related seminars for translators, interpreters and terminologists from all EU institutions, under the comprehensive title ‘Terminology in the Changing World of Translation’. These seminars regularly attract a large audience to the historic setting of the original European Parliament Chamber in Luxembourg. Our recent seminars dealt with terminology in legislative procedures, computer-assisted translation, terminology management and with lexicography and e-lexicography. The next seminar planned for 8 November 2012 will focus on neologisms in the digital age.

TermCoord also regularly organises IATE trainings for translators as well as more customized IATE workshops for terminologists, the most recent of which focused on referencing principles as well as tips and tricks for day-to-day work in IATE.

Communication, External relations and Presentations

Terminology is a dynamically evolving discipline of our age that has gained more and more importance over the last few decades. TermCoord believes that it is very important to stay up-to-date with the evolution of terminology science and practice, and to connect with the actors of this discipline in order to exchange valuable expertise and terminology material, which can be shared with our translators. For this purpose we keep in contact with a large number of universities, terminology bodies and experts through our external website, numbering now about 90 000 visitors, as well as through our memberships in important associations, such as the European Association for Terminology (EAfT) and the International Network for Terminology (TermNet). Our FaceBook Page is another important means of communication.

We regularly publish posts on current issues related to terminology; we provide a wide range of useful information, material and resources related to terminology and translation; we publish material from seminars, workshops and training sessions, as well as links to important terminology databanks and other terminology-related sites. Furthermore, our website contains a number of other interesting items such as terminology and translation book reviews, information about international conferences on terminology and translation, information about traineeships and study visits within the Parliament and theses on terminology like the one written by our former trainee under the supervision of Professor Budin: ‘Role of TermCoord in the European Parliament’ (2012).

As part of our external networking and cooperation activity, we participate in several conferences and we welcome visiting groups from universities, presenting DGTRAD and its terminology work. Some examples:

•    presentation at JIAMCATT in Turin and Luxembourg,
•    presentation at the 8th International Conference on Terminology in Athens,
•    presentation at the terminology department of FAO in Rome,
•    presentation at the Terminology and Knowledge Engineering conference (TKE 2012) in Madrid,
•    visits from the universities of Magdeburg, Saarbrücken, Heidelberg, Zadar, the TERMISTI research centre and the UN Department    for Translation and Terminology.

In memoriam Neville Alexander


by Anja DrameImage

It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Dr. Neville Alexander today.

He was one of the leading sociolinguists of South Africa and a great inspiration for my own work as a sociolinguist.

Dr. Alexander started his career as a political activist which saw him also spending 10 years of prison on the infamous Robben Island along with Nelson Mandela. Being an intellectual he became a scientist and teacher at the University of Cape Town and a proponent of linguistic rights of the South African languages.

As a leading member of the LANGTAG group that advised the then minister Ben Ngubane on matters of language planning and thus contributed significantly in the development of the country’s innovative linguistic policy which still belongs to the most tolerant and open of the world, he became famous beyond South Africa’s borders.

His views on language were not always uncontested and popular in his own country. But his publications have received wide circulation across the world and have influenced many linguists in their work.

I had the pleasure to meet him on several occasions in South Africa and in Austria. His work and the discussion with him have contributed significantly in my research on terminology policies, and thus had an influence on publications, including the ISO standard ISO 29383 which is again based on the UNESCO Guidelines on Terminology Policies (pdf).

Since 1992 he was also active in the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA), to promote educational reform in South Africa.

He later became one of the founding members of the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN), the language planning body of the African Union and served on its board.

Throughout his career he called for a stronger role of the African languages in public use and education without disregard for the role of English in South African society. He was aware of the limited power of government to give the African languages the status as equal media. It will take, he said once, a social revolution to achieve that.

He has passed away on 27 August 2012 in Cape Town.

Read a detailed bio of Neville Alexander on South African History Online: http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/dr-neville-edward-alexander


Further links:





The Changing Nature of the English Degree: Creating a Future the Past (Literally) Can’t Understand

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Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today, many young Americans communicate using a hybrid language comprised of English words, acronyms, emoticons and jargon that has proven incomprehensible to older web users. Furthermore, the methods people have historically used to communicate (letters, phone calls, face-to-face visits, etc.) are slowly being replaced by less personable alternatives like text messages, email and various social media platforms. Though the digital age has proven highly innovative, many linguistic experts (and people over the age of 40) complain that ‘Online English’ has done nothing but create a generational gap.

In recent years, the English language has undergone a significant transformation due to increasingly widespread Internet access on a global level. ‘OMG (oh my God)’, ‘LOL (laughing out loud)’, ‘CUL8R (see you later)’ and other web-based colloquialisms have transcended digital media and become part of the common vernacular. Terms like ‘text’, ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ have taken on new meanings, while others (i.e. ‘unlike’ and ‘de-friend’) have organically derived from online activity. Commas, apostrophes and other punctuation marks are rarely utilized. Many have argued that ‘webspeak’ is not even technically English, anymore.

But interestingly, not all language experts are opposed to these changes. Anne Trubek, an associate professor at Oberlin College, recently noted in Wired Magazine that English scholars did not emphasize proper spelling until the 18th century. She also adds many of today’s common grammatical errors are done out of necessity (and not ignorance), since the appeal of texts, tweets and other platforms comes from the ability to send a message very quickly.

In addition, a recent study by professors at Slovenia’s University of Maribor noted that the evolution of English has actually slowed down when compared to centuries past; popularity of words in the 16th and 17th centuries, for instance, was particularly fleeting. According to Colin Schultz of Smithsonian Magazine, these findings contradict the notion that texting and Internet language are desecrating English. “Languages change, it’s just what they do,” he told redOrbit.

However, there is significant evidence that ‘webspeak’ is alienating older generations. According to Generations on Line, nearly half (47 percent) of Americans over the age of 65 cannot use the Internet; comparatively, 15 percent of the same population could not use the Internet in 2000. The strange technology and unfamiliar equipment plays a significant role, but the language used on the web can be just as confounding for inexperienced users.

This problem is certainly not exclusive to elderly individuals, either. As writer Diana M. Weber recently posited, vocabulary and jargon derived from texts and tweets often form a barrier between parents and adolescent children. “Cyber slang and acronyms are replacing the inherent need for real conversation and human interaction,” she noted. “As this generation cultivates an encrypted language understood by their peers exclusively, parents are less in tune with who and what their kids are involved in.” She adds that communication in part rests on the ability to share colloquialisms, non-sequiturs and other specialized uses of a given language – and thanks to webspeak, many adults have no idea what their kids are trying to say (often to the detriment of their authority as parents).

So far, the most effective solution seems to be outreach. The aforementioned Generations on Line is merely one example of organizations attempting to educate older Americans about the Internet. Other countries have also implemented measures to make their elderly citizens more ‘web literate’. Great Britain’s Nominet Trust, for example, conducts comprehensive studies to determine the various barriers between old people and online engagement, while New Zealand’s Mental Health Foundation annually holds texting workshops for elderly cell phone users. These measures are not solely promoted for practical reasons; according to a study by the Phoenix Center, spending time online may reduce depression in elderly people by as much as 20 percent.

As society transitions toward complete digitalization, it is key that our elderly counterparts are not left behind. We live in an age of great communicative capabilities, and arguably no one appreciates these progressions more than men and women who wrote letters, listened to radio programs and only used the telephone on special occasions.


Alexa Russell, author of online resources for students interested in enrolling in undergraduate English degree programs, writes here about how the evolution of English, spurred by the widespread use of the Internet, makes intergenerational communication increasingly difficult. Although this article discusses the importance of understanding a language on a personal level, there are broader consequences to changes in English, as evidenced by Terminology Blog’s post about how many languages the International Committee of the Red Cross must communicate in every year.

The Journal of Specialised Translation

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A special issue of the Journal of Specialised Translation on Terminology, Phraseology and Translation is out. The Jostrans is an open-access journal and aims to create a forum for translators and researchers in specialised translation, to disseminate information, exchange ideas and to provide a dedicated publication outlet for research in specialised, non-literary translation.

The journal offers a mixture of thematic and open issues, covering the following areas:

  • Features of specialised language
  • General and practical issues in translation and interpreting
  • Subject field translation issues, i.e. medical, legal, financial, multi-media, localisation
  • Theoretical issues in specialised translation
  • Aspects of training and teaching specialised translation
  • Revision and post-editing

See the Jostrans website for more details:


Product names lost in translation?

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by Debora Russi


We all know various examples from all sorts of industries which failed to check their product names in other languages. Just today I have read an article in the Wall Street Journal which described another example of product names lost in translation. The Swedish furniture giant IKEA named his bed frame Redalen after a town in Norway, which sounds like a Thai term for sexual intercourse. The plant pot Jättebra also sounds like an impolite term for the sex act. Almost all IKEA products have tongue-twisting Scandinavian names which bring a unique character to the whole product line and play part of the marketing strategy. Nevertheless, one needs to keep in mind that those names can also have other meanings in other languages. What now? Next time it would be better to hire a translation service or do you want to own a car that is called “Pajero” which in Spanish means “wanker”?  Linguistic land mines are all over the places and if businesses are to be successful on the international stage they must be sure that the message is communicated properly in foreign languages.

Enjoy your week!


Short insight into “Everything you ever wanted to know about translation”


by Debora Russi

I have recently read this newly published book: “Everything you ever wanted to know about translation” written by Ms. Lola Bendana, Director of Multi-Languages Corporation, and Mr. Alan Melby, professor of Linguistics at Brigham Young University. Needless to say that both authors are seasoned veterans in the fascinating field of translation. Lola has been involved in the translation and interpreting business for over 20 years; since 1997, she has been the Director of Multi-Languages Corporation. Alan Melby is not only professor of Linguistics but also member of the ATA Board of Directors and senior member of several standard development organizations and started his career in translation over 40 years ago.

The book is packed with basic information and pithy explanations about translation and its process and is written in plain English. Whether you are completely new to the world of translation, or a requester of translation services, or an armchair expert, you’ll find plenty of practical advice. The two parts of the book are aimed at different audiences: the first one is for everyone and especially for requesters of translation services and the other one is especially for translators and project managers. It really is a handy educational tool and offers in the second section certification and revision guidelines which are very helpful for all people involved in the translation process. One of the main focuses in this publication is translation quality.

But how do we measure quality in translation?

By setting up a quality measurement system via appropriate specifications which makes a huge difference and helps all parties involved in the process to clearly identify issues and the root causes of possible conflicts. Like it says in the book: “When requesters and providers collaborate and keep end-users (those who actually use the translation) in mind, everyone wins”.

Furthermore, you find in the appendices several links to valuable resources such as professional associations, glossaries and termbases, code of ethics and translation standards.

And last but not least you find a glossary of terms and definitions for the translation industry in this book.

I would highly recommend this reading to anyone who is trying to put the pieces together when it comes to the business side of translation. It is a relatively easy read and the format facilitates rapidly looking up a specific point of interest.

If you are curious now, you find the downloadable version of this book for free under:


Have a wonderful week!



Translation (and terminology) in the African languages


by Anja Drame

New study highlights the state of the art for translation and language industry in the African languages

Common Sense Advisory has published its study about the need for translation in Africa. The study was conducted in 2011 in cooperation with Translators without Borders, and received quite an impressive feedback of more than 300 translators in the African languages. Almost 77% of the responses came from people living in Africa, the rest from the various regions in which Africans form a large Diaspora. However, as Common Sense Advisory stresses, the regional distribution is somewhat heavy on South Africa, followed by Kenya, Cameroon and Nigeria.

The results are interesting. One of the major findings is the high level of training and education received. More than half of the respondents are university graduates and one Third have a Bachelor degree. But with the large Diaspora and the various possibilities of language related studies one can conduct in South Africa this is perhaps less surprising. What I find most surprising is the fact that 46.3% claim that African language translation is their prime source of income. On the other hand, the lack of organization and trade union representation is felt as severe as payment morale appears to be low and political repression an issue.

Most translators work also as interpreters which makes a lot of sense if one considers the high place of oral communication and the relatively low literacy rates in the continent.

There was also a result that is interesting, although hardly a surprise for terminologists. A majority claims the lack of equivalents for terms in the major languages is an immense problem. Common Sense Advisory uses the terms cancer and clinical depression as examples from the heath sector, where translation and interpreting has such a strong and directly influencing place.

Of course we are aware of many projects addressing exactly this lack, both from governmental and public side and private initiatives. This is the case especially in South Africa with its elaborate language policy, but not only there. However, it still seems that the lack of access to and information about available sources is a major problem, especially for those translators with limited access to the Internet (although the study suggests that more than 80% are online while translating). And these are just responses from professional and educated translators and do not count the numerous translators who do the job while actually being employed as administrators, logisticians, nurses, etc. These people will hardly know where to find and how to access online resources. I can tell because I have worked with them in the field with an International NGO. And they do an impressive and tremendous job!

As for their future, African translators expect an upward trend with South Africa joining the economic bloc of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), making it BRICS. The expectation is an economic rise and the new trade partners creating additional demand. Generally, research shows that the translation market in Africa has been growing steadily. But it comes along with the fear that this demand will create a blooming of unqualified service providers which ultimately damage the reputation and industry. There are experiences all over the world with this problem and surely some action needs to be taken. Be it through organization and representation, quality assurance measures and partnerships. Any other ideas?

Africa is home to 2000 – 3000 languages (depending on who has counted them), belonging to only a few large language families. The major European languages of the former colonizing powers, such as English, French, Portuguese and to lesser extends German, Afrikaans and others, as well as Arabic dominate education, business and politics today. New languages such as Chinese were introduced with this country’s growing influence on Africa. Regional linguas francas such as Swahili or Hausa fight a battle against these languages. Sometimes with more success, sometimes with less.

I am curious to hear about your experiences!

Cheers, Anja


Common Sense Advisory, Inc. is an independent research firm committed to objective research and analysis of the business practices, services, and technology for translation, localization, and interpreting. With its research for both Global Leaders and Industry Providers, Common Sense Advisory endeavors to improve the quality and practice of international business, and the efficiency of the online and offline operations that support it.


Download the full study:  http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/AbstractView.aspx?ArticleID=2869

SDL at Bloomberg TV: managing global content, trends and predictions for the future

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Watch this interview with Mark Lancaster, Chairman of SDL, at Bloomberg TV giving some hits about what is to come for the market of the global content management:


Updates about the ISO 12620 and some useful links

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In the last conference that TermNet was attending to, we have heard that the new version of the ISO standard 12620 does no longer contain data categories but descriptions and a reference to the isocat.org.

If you wish to read more about data categories and why they are some important for your terminology work, have a look to this presentation by Sue EllenWright during the International Terminology Summer School 2011 in Cologne. She is also initiator of the isocat.org project.

Sue Ellen will give us an update about this in the next International Terminology Summer School, this July in Vienna and then we will blog you with further information.

We thought this could be interesting for some of you…. Cheers!


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For those who have German as a working language, this forum for terminology questions can be of  great help.


The forum is thought to be a free place for translator, technical writers, developers, engineers and experts in other fields of knowledge to ask and talk about terminology issues.  The forum is not aimed to be a meeting point for experts in terminology but for everyone to have the possibility to interact and exchange experience and information, no matter if it is about general questions or very specialized aspects.

This forum is an initiative of the German Terminology Day association (DTT –  Deutscher Terminologie-Tag e.V).

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