Terminology greetings from Portugal…

March 10, 2016 10:13 am

It all started last year in June, when I attended the TOTh Conference and training in Chambéry, a very picturesque city in the department of Savoie (France), during which I had the pleasure of meeting Prof. Dr Rute Costa from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal). After an intensive, yet instructive week, we said goodbye, but not for long, because we met again at the NATO conference on Terminology Management, held at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on 19 and 20 November 2015, and in Luxembourg on the occasion of the TOTh workshop hosted by the European Parliament on 3 December 2015. While enjoying the reception on one of these events, we talked about the Portuguese language as well as the splendour of Portugal’s cities, and when Prof. Costa heard about my plans for a city trip to Lisbon, she invited me to give a guest lecture at the university. Needless to say, I felt honoured at such a wonderful proposition!

Lisbon 2

So, last 26 February, I arrived at the Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas in Lisbon, not exactly knowing what to expect of my first ‘teaching’ experience, but as soon as the students entered the room, I felt very much at ease. Prof. Dr Rute Costa addressed a warm welcome to me and briefly introduced me to the audience after which I went ahead…

Since Master’s and PhD students already know ‘everything’ about the theory behind terminology, it would be useless to talk about that part of the field again, so I decided to share my own experiences concerning terminology work in practice. I presented three projects and for each of them, I provided some background information, explained the applied method step-by-step and illustrated the problems I encountered while carrying out the terminology research.

First of all, I presented my Master’s thesis; a terminological analysis of the first two books (livres) of the Moroccan Commercial Law. The thesis consists of three parts, namely a theoretical approach to terminology management, the terminology project itself, and a comparative study of the Moroccan and the Belgian Commercial Law. The goal of this research was to point out the discrepancies between the Moroccan and the Belgian terminology and to find an answer to the question on how to translate the terms in order to reach the highest possible level of consistency and uniformity in translated documents related to this legal domain. In total, I analysed 316 articles (158 in French and 158 in Modern Standard Arabic) and after a manual term extraction based on the French text, I ended up with 111 terms, which I added – together with a definition, a context, references, synonyms and notes if necessary, as well as the Arabic and Dutch equivalent – to a term base, taking into account the basic principles for terminology work, like for instance the rules stipulated in ISO Standard 704 (2001). Here, the main difficulties were the differences between the language systems, the fact that there was no term for every concept and the use of old or deprecated terms.

Lisbon 1

Given that I was in Lisbon also to represent the (trainees of the) Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg, I deemed it necessary to not only underline the long history of terminology management within this institution (since the 1960s), but also go more deeply into how it is done nowadays in all 24 official languages of the European Union and even in some non-European languages (e.g. Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Turkish). The biggest challenge is the maintenance of the multilingual IATE term base (InterActive Terminology for Europe) and the broad variety of domains the Parliament is dealing with. Of course, trainees and permanent staff at TermCoord do much more than filling and updating IATE. A few examples of the tasks in our unit are organising terminology events and terminocafes, compiling glossaries and multilingual dictionaries, coordinating terminology projects of the language units, writing articles for the websites, attending meetings and last but not least, building terminological bridges on an interinstitutional and international level.

The final example I brought up in my presentation was embedded in the QUALETRA project (quality in legal translation), funded by the Criminal Justice Programme of the European Commission DG Justice. The entire project is linked to the implementation of Directive 2010/64/EU on the Right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings and aims at three target groups: legal translators, legal practitioners and suspected and accused persons who speak another language. The corpus, consisting of various European Arrest Warrants in six languages, underwent a term extraction – either manual or with Sketch Engine depending on the document – and resulted in a term base of 456 entries with 38 possible fields per term and per language. In retrospect, with the consortium partners living in different countries, I can say that the management of this terminology project would not have been possible without solid and transparent communication, and working with both European continental law and Common law of the United Kingdom did not make it any easier.

Although it was the first time I gave this kind of presentation, I enjoyed every minute of it as well as the preparatory work and I would like to kindly thank Prof. Dr Rute Costa for giving me this amazing opportunity. Also thank you to the students, you were a pleasant audience and I really appreciated your honest feedback and interesting questions.

You will find the presentation here and in case you might have any questions or would like to further discuss the content, feel free to contact me.

Interested in a traineeship at the European Parliament? Do not hesitate and apply now! I am convinced that it will be one of the best experiences in your life… More information can be found through this link.

Leen BoelWritten by Leen Boel
Terminologist trainee at TermCoord

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