November 18, 2016 3:54 pm
IATE Term of the Week: Summit
On the occasion of the VIII European Terminology Summit, held in Luxembourg last 14th and 15th November, it goes without saying that our Term of the Week could not be other than summit. This particular one was organised by EAFT, the European Association for Terminology, in collaboration with the Terminology Coordination Unit of DG TRAD in the European Parliament. The main focus was to go back and look forward at the same time, to present both revisions of the topics of earlier summits and visions of where terminology needs to go from there.
But focusing on the term summit, where does it really come from? The Oxford Dictionary gives “the highest point of a hill or mountain” as the first and basic definition, which actually sets the basis of the more specific meaning. For instance, in the domain of international affairs, summit is labelled as “a meeting or series of meetings between the leaders of two or more governments“, such as in this definition provided by Merriam-Webster dictionary.
There is a clear connection between the general and the specific definition, using the metaphor as a linguistic resource to enlighten a more complex meaning. In addition, as you will find in IATE data base, a summit meeting may also entail a considerable media exposure, tight security, and a prearranged agenda.
A summit meeting is in fact spread out in lots of fields, since one of key factors relies is the actual gathering and knowledge-sharing between academics, heads of institution, politicians, diplomats, etc. discussing about a concrete topic.
In closing, the term summit derives from the Latin word summum (summus in its neuter form), which means “highest”, but the metaphoric meaning of “meeting of head of states” started being used after 1950’s Winston Churchill expression “a parley at the summit“.
Written by Ana Jiménez Morente
Content Editor. Communication Trainee, DG TRAD – Terminology Coordination Unit
- Merriam-Webster. 2016. Summit | Definition of Summit by Merriam-Webster. Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/summit. [Accessed 17 November 2016].
- Online Etymology Dictionary. 2016. Online Etymology Dictionary. Available at: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=summit. [Accessed 17 November 2016].
- Oxford Dictionaries. 2016. Definition of summit in English. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/summit. [Accessed 17 November 2016].
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