EP Networking with Denmark for Terminology

Photo of Copenhagen port with the title of the post

Since November 2016, the Danish interinstitutional EU translation has been working on the establishment of the Danish Terminology Network for which I have been responsible in order to establish dialogue with Denmark and make sure that the terminology used in our translations is in line with current professional language use in Denmark, which we believe will eventually improve the quality of our translations.

In the Danish EU translation, it is (fortunately) not a new thing to consult external contacts and get professional, expert and specific sector based knowledge when encountered with a terminological problem, such practise has been done both at the terminological stage by Danish EU terminologists and in the translation process itself by Danish EU translators. However, no collaboration between the EU institutions had ever been established before the Danish Terminology Network. Instead, each institution would have their own system, platform and way of sharing, if shared.

The Danish Terminology Network has its origin in the Terminology Council for the Low Countries which was presented by Frida Steurs on the VIII European Terminology Summit “Visions and Revisions” hosted by the Parliament´s Terminology Coordination (TermCoord) in November 2016:

The Dutch Language Terminology Service at the EC has taken new and remarkable initiative to get students and training institutes from Flanders and the Netherlands involved in the creation of Dutch Terminology for IATE. A Terminology Council has been created for the Low Countries, and both public services and training institutes take part in this. As a result, university students have the opportunity to take an internship at the EC and to actively work on terminology. This also results in very interesting master theses on terminology work[1].

We changed the conceptual framework of the Dutch example and adapted it to the needs of the Danish language community by excluding the trainee involvement and university collaboration which should not per se be excluded as I consider this a good possibility for a valuable work done for the EU translation and thus contribution to the EU terminology. Moreover, it keeps us updated on linguistic and terminological development in the mother countries. This type of collaboration and networking is also something that is practised in several language specific projects in TermCoord and though time consuming, I believe that the end-result is worth the effort.

The Danish Terminology Network consists of, on one hand, internal contacts comprising all EU related bodies, agencies and institutions as well as all institutions involved in the EU translation, and on the other hand, external contacts which are based on the contacts we shared among us in Danish EU translation. When establishing the network, we were looking for specific professional expertise and knowledge that we as generalists might not always have.

What is new? In the Danish Terminology Network, we chose to change the focus to the network(ing) part and dialogue. This element means that our contacts are not only helping us but that all contacts, both internal and external, have access to the whole network and can use it, which is also why we ended up excluding all translation agencies and freelance translators. Moreover, we added a new and valuable element to the network/council, which was internal expertise, as we realised that we actually have a lot of expertise in-house (within the EU), in our agencies, etc.

How does it work? The network is merely consultation and no terminology projects nor translations will be sent to our contacts. The translators work as the “filter” and indicator of the direction in which we need to expand the network in order to live up to the terminological needs that we have in Danish EU translation. It is the translator/terminologist who initiates dialogue with a contact in the network, but it is the EU terminologists who are responsible for making sure that the result of this dialogue ends up in IATE. The translator is responsible for forwarding the answer to the terminologists. The EU translation as a whole bares the entire responsibility of any consultation made to the network.

The platform of the network is the Danish language wiki in the interinstitutional terminology platform EurTerm (access restricted), which I also manage, to which each language community has full administration rights. The platform is ideal for cross unit and interinstitutional terminology collaboration and gives us the opportunity to share and avoid information loss, e.g. in email exchange. The wiki was of course also used as a forum for all preparatory work to the network. In our case, the translators are only granted viewing rights and the terminologists are granted full editing and viewing rights. For data protection purposes, we have chosen to restrict the page.

As presentation and living up to national standards regarding language and layout were of high priority for us, we have run and are running several localization and layout related projects on both the wiki and specifically on the Terminology Network where several other units are and have been involved. For these projects, we involved both communication and translation trainees from TermCoord and the Danish unit in the European Parliament as the trainees are not yet that affected by the less accessible EU jargon.

The Danish Terminology Network has been very well received at the first launch in the Danish unit in the European Parliament on May 18 and we hope to have it fully launched in all institutions by the end of the year. With this article, I am hoping to inspire other language communities to follow us and establish a council/network, as I am sure we are not unique in the issues experienced with external consultation and keeping up with current language use in Denmark.

[1] European Parliament – European Association for Terminology, November 14-15 2016, Terminology training: a new approach in the Low Countries, in: VIII EAFT Terminology Summit VIII Sommet de Terminologie AET, p. 25.

Written by Stine Jensen, translator for the Danish unit and rotating terminologist for TermCoord in the European Parliament.