Interview with Jana Altmanova


Jana Altmanova has been a researcher and lecturer of French language, linguistics and translation in the Department of Literature, Linguistics and Comparative Studies at the Orientale University of Naples since 2011. In 2008, she received a PhD in French Studies from the University of Bari. Her thesis was entitled ‘Néologismes et créativité lexicale du français contemporain dans les dictionnaires bilingues français-italien’ (Contemporary French neologisms and lexical creativity in French-Italian bilingual dictionaries). In 2010, she was awarded a research grant by the Department of Comparative Studies at the Orientale University of Naples for a project entitled: ‘Normalisation et harmonisation terminologique dans le domaine des arts et métiers’ (Terminological normalisation and harmonisation in the arts and crafts sector). She is a member of Ass-I-Term (Italian Terminology Association), whose goal is to encourage organisations to share and publish Italian technical and scientific terminology. In November 2016, she took part in the VIII European Terminology Summit in Luxembourg, Visions and Revisions, during which she gave a presentation entitled ‘Les perspectives de la formation en terminologie dans le contexte italien : des portes ouvertes à de nouveaux horizons’ (Perspectives on terminology training in Italy: exploring new options).

Interview why is Terminology your passion_

1) What did you study and when did you start to gain an interest in terminology?

I received a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Literature and Languages in 2002 from the Orientale University of Naples, where I was a very passionate student of French linguistics and literature. I then began working as a freelance translator of French, Italian, Slovak and Czech, during which time I developed a passion for teaching French and obtained a secondary school teaching qualification. I was then given the opportunity to continue my studies with a PhD in French Studies at the University of Bari. I focused on lexicography and lexicology, extracting neologisms and their definitions from French dictionaries and comparing them to their Italian equivalents. Through my research on the Dizionario bilingue e i linguaggi settoriali (Bilingual dictionary and sectorial languages) at the Research Unit of the Parthenope University of Naples, which I carried out as part of the PRIN 2008 project on Lexicography and Metalexicography (University of Bari), I was able to further analyse specialist nomenclature and the processing of the technical lemmas contained in existing bilingual dictionaries, particularly those pertaining to the traditional arts and crafts. I subsequently took an advanced training course in Specialist terminology and translation services (Sacred Heart Catholic University of Milan), which proved particularly useful for the development of my research. This path led me to lexicographical and terminological research and I have not looked back since. I had never studied specialist languages before, but by attending national and international seminars and conventions, I learned that there was a lot of interest in the field and realised that it could form part of my work as a researcher and lecturer in French language and linguistics.

Jana Altmanova 2) You are a researcher of French language, linguistics and translation in the Department of Literature, Linguistics and Comparative Studies at the Orientale University of Naples. Tell us about your work and the activities you are involved in.

As part of my role as an academic, I teach French Language and Linguistics on the BA courses and specialised translation on the MA course. As I said before, my research primarily involves analysing specialist discourses from diachronic and synchronic perspectives, with a specific focus on arts, crafts and niche industries. One of the projects on this topic is Termorfèvre®, which was launched in 2012 in cooperation with students from the Parthenope University of Naples’ PhD programme in EU languages and specialised terminology, and aims to expand on theoretical and methodological approaches to diachronic and synchronic study in the field of traditional goldsmithery and create a multilingual dictionary for the sector. The project is being carried out in close cooperation with local communities and professionals, specifically the Borgo Orefici di Napoli (gold district of Naples), allowing the researchers to collect and extract terminology in situ. The impact of the financial sector on the creation and dissemination of terminology is the focus of another project, Leximarq®, which is creating a virtual link between the marketing and academic worlds, particularly in terms of linguistic studies. This project is being run by two universities, the Orientale University of Naples and Paris 13 University, and is focused on the lexicalisation and dissemination of brand names in specialist environments and everyday language. I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to attend the conference ‘Lexicalisation de l’onomastique commerciale. Créer, diffuser, intégrer’ (Lexicalisation of commercial onomastics. Create, disseminate, integrate), which will take place at the Orientale University of Naples from 25-26 May 2017 and will feature lectures by academics from various countries including Italy, France, Spain, Canada, Morocco, Algeria, Georgia, the Czech Republic and Poland.

3) How much time does your university dedicate to terminology and how could this be improved?

Studying terminology is an important part of what we do at the university, and that has especially been the case in recent years. It is part of the rich philosophical and literary tradition for which the Orientale University is renowned. Over the past ten years, the Department of Literature, Linguistics and Comparative Studies has created new degree programmes (BA Linguistic and Cultural Mediation and MA Specialised Translation) which give students an opportunity to study this relatively new and fascinating discipline in a communicative and international context that is focused on ‘pragmatic’ discourses and texts. We are working with our MA Specialised Translation students to optimise the study of and research into terminology by using CAT tools and software and concentrating more on text analysis. I am thoroughly convinced that, while terminological training should involve learning about and applying the main terminological theories, there should be a focus on the methods students are most likely to use in their future careers, which will see them working with various text types and discourses and managing a number of terminological resources. When thinking about new ways of teaching terminology, we should also consider how it can vary according to context and/or text type (including the web genre). We also discussed these factors at the conference Terminologia e discorso: Sviluppi e prospettive nel dibattito contemporaneo (Terminology and discourse: Developments in and perspectives on the contemporary debate) held on 10 and 11 November 2015 at the Orientale University of Naples, the proceedings of which will be published shortly.

4) You are a member of Ass.I.Term (the Italian terminology association): what are the association’s goals in relation to terminology?

The Italian terminology association – Ass.I.Term – is an excellent example of an organisation which researches, experiments with and promotes terminology. It has always promoted scientific papers written by terminologists, advocated the dissemination and publication of technical and scientific terminology in Italian and other languages, and encouraged young academics and professionals to specialise in terminology. What is more, national and international projects set up and scientific papers written in recent years have produced significant findings. One example is our collaboration with Realiter (the Pan-Latin Terminology Network), which brought our vision to other Romance countries and enabled us to produce terminological resources for various specialist fields. It is also worth noting the important debates which take place at annual conferences attended by respected terminology professionals and academics, particularly those held by the Accademia della Crusca (Italian language academy), Rete REI (Network for the excellence of academic Italian) and DGLFLF (National delegation for the French language and the languages of France).

5) In November 2016, you took part in the VIII European Terminology Summit in Luxembourg, where you gave a lecture entitled ‘Les perspectives de la formation en terminologie dans le contexte italien : des portes ouvertes à de nouveaux horizons’ (Perspectives on terminology training in Italy: exploring new options). Can you briefly summarise your lecture and explain why you chose this topic?

This was the 20th Visions and Revisions summit and Maria Teresa Zanola and I therefore thought it appropriate to discuss the problems with terminology training in Italy and evaluate published studies, the current situation in Italy and future developments. In the light of the ISTAT data on terminologists working in Italy and their professional status, it seemed highly appropriate to offer a lecture focused entirely on describing the professional profile of terminology trainers in Italy and the educational and didactic content of degree courses. We discussed the link between terminology and specialist languages, sub-dividing the most commonly adopted approaches into three basic categories: discourse analysis, methodological research and in-house training. This trend appears to be determined by the goals of linguistic and cultural mediation training courses, which are now used in all Italian universities. We then gave an overview of translation-focused MA courses and PhD courses, ending with a discussion of specific areas of research, ranging from long-established to emerging fields, which are also worth considering.

6) What CAT tools do you usually recommend to your specialised translation students?

In my opinion, the real challenge is equipping students with a robust, but flexible translation methodology that can be used in any working environment. I believe this is one of the key rules by which cultural mediators and translators should abide. Being adaptable obviously means familiarising yourself with all the tools that can help you in your translation work, without compromising on quality. That being said, it is clear that since the 60s and 70s, translators have been able to produce good-quality translations in shorter timeframes by using CAT tools and corpus analysis software. The added value of such software is undoubtedly its capacity to search a huge bank of terminology for specific terms, which is extremely difficult to do with printed corpora or small electronic corpora that must be searched through manually. We use a number of CAT tools including SDL Trados, T-Labs Plus, Transit, Wordfast, Antconc, IdiomServer, Alchemy CATALYST and Textométrie. It is common knowledge that these programmes, which allow users to create specific termbases and translation memories in various language combinations, have recently been simplified to make them easier to understand and use. Developers have achieved this by increasingly using semantic and linguistic parameters to generate results rather relying exclusively on statistical parameters.

7) Are you familiar with IATE? What do you think of it?

Yes, I am familiar with IATE and often consult it when conducting didactic analyses and research and when translating. It is a very handy tool that is, most importantly, easy to use. I think that ease of use is one of IATE’s strong points; I have observed that companies (especially legal and administrative ones) and students use it very frequently to find translations of terms in the various European languages. I encourage students and translators to use it, particularly when dealing with EU texts. What is more, we have already started discussing the possibility of working more closely with the European Parliament, particularly with TERMCORD, on the translation and terminology projects carried out by our students. I believe that collaborations of this type can be highly educational and rewarding for cultural mediators and translators.

8) In your opinion, how important is terminology management for translators?

Terminology management is essential. Whether it comes in the form of a terminology product (glossary or terminology data bank), research project, or the extraction, collection and management of terminology data, terminology is a key aspect of specialised translation and is even more crucial for translators working in multilingual environments. Translators can manage the translation process more efficiently by using textual and terminological resources, translation memories and bilingual corpora.

photo Laura Colaci Interviewed by Laura Colaci. Laura was born in Lecce, Italy in 1992. She is in her second year of the MA Specialised Translation at the Orientale University of Naples and spent six months at the University of Luxembourg as an Erasmus+ student. She also did a short internship in the Terminology Coordination Unit of the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Parliament in Luxembourg.

Post prepared by Katerina Palamioti –  Translator, Social Media and Content Manager, Communication Trainee and Foodie at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg and Doris Fernandes del Pozo – Journalist, Translator-Interpreter and Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. She is pursuing a PhD as part of the Communication and Contemporary Information Programme of the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain).