TermCoord goes North! The Role of Terminology in Language Technological Applications


The Role of Terminology in Language Technological Applications

For several years, a beautiful cooperation has existed between the Danish EU Translation and the Danish Terminology Community with the involvement in the Group of Terminologists in Denmark, which later on led to the Danish Terminology Network and the participation in conferences like Nordterm 2019 and TERMINTRA II. With my background in the Danish EU Translation and the establishment of the Danish Terminology Network (Termnetværket EU-DK), I could not think of a better forum than this one to present the wish to establish a better Nordic representation in TermCoord’s terminology cooperations.

The main conference was Nordterm 2019. This year it was organised and hosted by Copenhagen University over a period of 4 days from 11-14 June 2019.

The theme of the conference was the role of terminology in language technology and language technological applications such as machine translation. A focus which seems to be very popular these days and which has stolen the limelight both at  JIAMCATT 2019 and the PMKI Workshop on Semantic Interoperability where TermCoord also participated.

An elegant thread tied each conference day of Nordterm 2019 together and by the end of it, it was followed by TERMINTRA II, which was organised by the European Association for Terminology, EAFT, but at the same premises. And every afternoon the Nordterm Management Group met to work.

Workshop on Sketch Engine and Nordic Terminology Initiatives

Ondřej Matuška, Dr Susanne Lervad and Dr Christan Gaubert, and Marko Marjomaa

The conference started Tuesday 11 June with a Workshop on Sketch Engine given by Ondřej Matuška. The following days, we learned about the Nordic initiatives in the area of language technology as well as other terminological initiatives and projects in Northern Europe such as the ‘Thread Project and Multilingual Textile Terminology’ presented by Dr Susanne Lervad and Dr Christan Gaubert.  On Thursday 13, we heard about the Sami languages presented by Marko Marjomaa from the Nordic Resource Center for Saami Languages.

Read all the abstracts presented on the Nordterm conference here.

Keynote Speakers, Language Technologies and Terminology

Andrejs Vasiljevs, Dr Frieda Steurs and Dr Sabine Kirchmeier

Wednesday 12 June the focus shifted to language technologies and terminology with Andrejs Vasiljevs from Tilde and Dr Frieda Steurs from KU Leuven as the keynote speakers. Andrejs Vasiljevs spoke about the development of language technology and how to respond to that as a private company in an era of Artificial Intelligence, AI. And with Frieda Steurs we saw the different Dutch initiatives and the work of the Institute for Dutch Language which was very much in line with what we would see on Thursday 13 June which were the national initiatives, Nordic/national and European terminology banks and platforms with Dr Sabine Kirchmeier from the Danish Language Council as the keynote speaker.

An overall ‘Nordic’ problem seemed to be funding, financing, and the need for more research and better education possibilities to be able to meet the new needs and demands of the market on language technologies – maybe with the exception of Iceland. The paradox is that while the market is experiencing a need which is bigger than ever, the Nordic institutions for higher education close down their terminology activities and national initiatives like DANTERM lose their funding.

Europe and European Initiatives

Tommi Bernitz and Stine Jensen, EU, and Henrik Nilsson, EAFT

Friday 14 June I spoke about Nordic cooperation as well as the language technology related work done in the European context, such as the European PMKI project. I explained the new initiative of TermCoord to go into AI and the integration of terminology.

Read more about this in the article: “Terminology in the Brain of the Machineby Rodolfo Maslias, Head of the Terminology Unit, our page AI.TEch, dedicated to this subject, and our article on PMKI here.

On this last day of Nordterm, the focus shifted towards Europe as well as the theory behind such cooperation presented by Henrik Nilsson from EAFT.

The tendency in the Nordic terminology scenario and as we would later see at TERMINTRA in the Terminology World in general seems to be platforms, open data and an interest towards and bridge between the general language, language learning and gathering language resources in one place. This is very much in line with PMKI, the Institute for Dutch Language, the eurotermbank, IATE and with almost all what the representatives from the national term banks presented at the conference as well as our new project, Terminology Without Borders that targets all terminology users, from the policy makers to the fishermen in the case of YourTerm MARE  or patients and the terminology used by doctors to communicate with children in the case of Yourterm MED.

By the end of the conference, it was decided by the Nordterm Management Group that the Language Secretariat of Greenland, present at the conference, would be invited to join the management group. The next Nordterm conference will be held in Finland in 2021.

TERMINTRA II – EAFT Workshop on National Term Banks

The European focus from Nordterm lasted through TERMINTRA II conference. We had all been invited to the conference and many of us stayed after Nordterm 2019. Having said that, TERMINTRA was a separate conference, organised by another institution (EAFT), and had its own agenda and own keynote speakers from the EAFT Board. Among those were some very important market players such TERMCAT (Sandra Cuadrado) and Tilde (Andrejs Vasiljevs).

The conference was a follow up conference to TERMINTRA I which was held following the EAFT summit in Oslo in 2012. However the theme was, like in Nordterm 2019, national term banks, and some of the Nordterm speakers had also been invited to speak at TERMINTRA.

During this afternoon conference, we saw examples of best-case terminology scenarios from all over Europe with a strong Nordic representation, which was probably due to Nordterm.

Uniting forces – Branding and Marketing

In the end of the conference, we had a very interesting discussion round, in which branding and marketing came up – which TermCoord also engages in – and  ‘how to make terminology sexy again’, which I am proud to have added to the discussion, meaning, how to reach the experts and create a demand for terminology from the terminology users themselves as well as to create an understanding for the importance of consolidated terminology among the decision and policy makers so that funding is granted for education on terminology and language technologies.

A focus which was probably provoked by Sandra Cuadrado’s presentation on TERMCAT’s social media activity and strategy of reaching and interacting with their audience on Twitter which also gave grounds for the theme of the next EAFT Workshop. An interesting and very necessary focus.

TermCoord is happy to be soon publishing interviews with some of the Danish prominent terminologists present at Nordterm 2019 under ‘Why is Terminolgy Your Passion?’

Written by Stine Jensen, Terminologist at TermCoord