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Terminology country report: Turkey

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If you had asked me about terminology in Turkey one year back, I would probably have answered that there is not much going on in this country. It’s true, we have the occasional (however, I must say, very interested) participants at TSS. But else there was not much information coming out of the country that reached me.

But that was before I encountered TermTurk project (www.termturk.net). This project, sponsored by the EU-Turkey Dialog programme, is an eye-opener for me.TermTurk, TSS 2009

What’s it all about? Actually, it is meant as a beginning. A group of people got together to kick-start what they perceived as long overdue – the development of an elaborate and active terminology infrastructure in Turkey.

Surprisingly, there has not been much institutionalised research on terminology. Nor is there something like an information centre where interested groups or individuals can find what they need to know about it. It is surprising, because there is such a strong patronage: Kemal Mustafa Atatürk himself wrote a brochure to introduce Turkish geometry terminology. Atatürk, as we know was very dedicated to language planning in order to promote and facilitate nation-building processes in the new republic. Terminology is even explicitly mentioned in the country’s famous Anıtkabir – his mausoleum and museum in Ankara (something that my colleagues and I still marvel about because it such a pleasant feeling to see terminology being rewarded such public recognition).

So finally, TermTurk should achieve what is still lacking: an information and research centre at Hacettepe University in Ankara, closer ties with internation organizations and activities (e.g. in standardization and reserach), a national terminology policy, and networking, networking, networking of the many different and often isolated initiatives within Turkey.

And TermTurk is doing well in achieving these goals: Turkish standards institute is now actively participating in ISO/TC 37  standardization projects, a series of well-attended trainings, conferences and workshops foster dialogue and knowledge transfer, quality assurance and service certification (LICS) take root, training material is obtained, translated and produced at high speed.

TermTurk as a project will come to an end in November 2009. But the continuation of the achievements is already planned and prepared.

There is much to be expected from Turkey in the next years. And I, for my part, am quite proud to be at the core of the action from the very beginning.

A few thoughts on terminology planning

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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)

Glossaries Breakfast Group – Day: Definitions and Contexts

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On day 2, the request came in to discuss how to write good definitions. Slides were presented on good definition form and context form, and we discussed critical issues. Sample definition:

account

A login directory (1) restricted for the use of a particular person, (2) usually password- protected, (3) that provides access to a system.

Where:

the term is:  “account”

the superordinate concept is: “A login directory”

the critical (essential, distinguishing) characteristics are:

(1) restricted for the use of a particular person

(2) usually password- protected

(3) that provides access to a system.

The slides are available at TermNet Website.

Collaborative terminology management in language planning and for corporate purposes

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We are discussing this morning the problem a South African participant brought up. South Africa has 11 official languages and terminology projects for language planning are undertaken by a variety of organizations, governmental, private or academic. What can one do to make sure that terminology data stored in databases of various sorts and degree of sophistication can be coordinated, maybe linked, etc. There are costly and efficient tools on the market that have their advantages and disadvantages. They are mostly easy-to use by a large number of terminologists who may be working from different locations thanks to web accessibility. They also “guide” the person who makes the entry how to proceed. On the downside of it they are often very costly. But there are also solutions that do not require a lot of money – just some knowhow of data modelling and strict consistency of how data are entered and managed. Excel is such and example and data managed this way can be quite easily imported into existing other systems.
wikis are strong in the field of collaborative work, dissemination and discussion of terminology. However, they are weak when it comes to structuring data entries. Some companies in Germany, for instance are already using a combination of Excel and wikis for their terminology work.

What to do when you have to create a glossary

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UPDATE!

The “glossaries” focus group reports what they did:

Essentially, we introduced ourselves to each other and as we did this, established the various frameworks in which different members of the group create different kinds of glossaries and other terminological resources.

Environments, glossary types, target groups

  • Resources designed to respond to distributed development in large enterprises; problem of communication among distributed sites;  getting clear definitions in English
  • Resources designed for the purpose of translating EU legislation based on multilingual glossaries with master en equivalents (languages: Croatian & Turkish)
  • Regulatory affairs in order to support translation activities by outsourced translators
  • Language planning in the context of the Welsh language boards; Welsh/English; issues of acceptance and term creation
  • Fachsprache= special language in business; (English and Slovenian) for use by freelance translators
  • Bilingual lexicology for special languages
  • WIPO terminology database
  • Transportation industry; dictionaries and glossaries for Latvian, Russian, English; how to make the terminologies parallel
  • Translation department glossaries for EU agencies in a wide range of domains; how to foresee problems and solutions for translators, auditors, interpreters, etc.
  • Freelance technical writer: glossaries; technical solutions
  • Technology companies where people are creating terms in industry and business
  • Technical terms, medical terms, processes to establish preferred terminological usage
  • South African experience: language planning and term introduction in languages for which many terms must be created
  • Translation unit of the eu: exercise in the combination of various different glossaries into Euroterm; problem of legacy data; problem of unification of entries
  • Communications support – total communications management for translation and document production
  • Technical translation and terminology management for enterprises, multiple languages
  • Modernization of legacy systems and importation of legacy data
  • Secretary to a commission in a minority language region; translation of legal terms & laws into a minority language that is a majority language in a neighboring country (i.e., German in Belgium, parallel)
  • WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organization; patent translation and terminology management

Problems

  • How does one transfer terminological and lexicographical information from tabular Excel glossaries into a structured terminology management system, such as MultiTerm? (Answer: xml output, manipulation and importation into the master system; more of a tools question, but nevertheless related to “glossaries”. Similar issues exist for glossaries found on the web, which may also need to edited for stylistic presentation.
  • How does one deal with copyright issues? (To be discussed on Thursday)
  • How do we come with new terms in different environments:
  • Terms used in well established languages (e.g., German terms for Italian or Belgian law)?
  • Terms or even general language words for use in languages where some areas of science, law, etc. have not been as rigorously developed in the past
  • How do we introduce and educate the general public so that terms created in such environments will be accepted for general usage?
  • Community action procedures and introduction in the school system in order to familiar children, families and interest groups in focused areas of terminology (e.g., family health, water management, childhood education, etc.), with the result that the introduction and acceptance of terminology can actually take a generation!
  • How do we deal with the fact that terms are coined in English and tend to be both very compact and short, in addition to being ambiguous with regard to noun/verb/adjective relationships, when some languages require more explicit, longer phrasal terms?
  • How do we keep people from just giving up and using the English terms?

No clear solutions here, but we commiserated with each other!

Critical insight: “Nothing is so easy as I thought it would be.”

To be continued tomorrow…

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