Institutional databases and Semantic Web Technologies


Terminology is in constant evolution: it is widely considered as a stand-alone science and is gaining increasing consideration from universities, businesses, bodies and institutions worldwide. In the era of open linked data, big data and web 3.0, a highly specific subject like terminology cannot ignore new technological advances in these fields and their mutual benefits.

Although, user needs and the time pressure on translators feeding the databases in international institutions do not allow for the same academic approach to terminology as in university terminology department and research projects, there may be some significant advantages to supporting experimental research in these institutions on the relationship between large multilingual databases and ontologies.

The EU-Terminology Database, IATE, and the databases of the UN and its Agencies are not ontology based and their taxonomy follow domain listings rather than a correlation of entries and activity fields. This domain/taxonomy organisation leads to the problems of ambiguity, “noise” and  duplicate entries.

IATE Public has already undergone some improvements which will soon be presented in more detail on this website, such as the display of entry-to-entry links and cross-references as active hyperlinks, a web service for queries and, in the near future, a feature for downloading IATE data exports in TBX format. These updates have the potential to be a starting point for developing a start-up project on improving IATE by integrating semantic web technologies.

In the context of its projects with universities, TermCoord is investigating the idea of a possible ontological structure in IATE’s sub-domains. On the 5th of June, Professor Franco Bertaccini from the University of Bologna (Laboratorio di terminologia, Forlì) will present the differences and the possible synergy of academic and institutional terminology approaches in a seminar at the European Parliament in Luxembourg. Also, the University of Salerno intends to launch a pilot project based on IATE with the aim of suggesting feasible and user-oriented solutions for a  more ontology and semantic-web-technologies-based thesaurus management for such big institutional databases, in accordance with W3C recommendations and  the latest research results.

Rodolfo Maslias