Interview with Gerhard Budin

Gerhard BudinGerhard Budin is the director of the Institute for Corpus Linguistics and Text Technology (ICLTT) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences of which he’s also a member. He is a Chair holder of the UNESCO Chair for Multilingual, Transcultural Communication in the Digital Age.

Budin is the vice-president of the International Institute for Terminology Research and Chair of a technical sub-committee in the International Standards Organisation (ISO) focusing on terminology and language resources, managing pre-normative research.

His research interests and publications cover topics such as cross-cultural knowledge communication and knowledge organisation, language engineering, translation technologies, and knowledge engineering, epistemology of e-learning and collaborative work systems, terminology studies, ontology engineering, translation theory and philosophy of science.

1) Agnieszka Antosik: Could you tell me why you decided to pursue your career in the field of terminology?

Gerhard Budin: Early in my translation studies I got interested in technical translation, science communications, and terminology. Prof. Hildegund Bühler took us students in the early 80s to INFOTERM, the International Information Centre for Terminology, where I met Prof. Felber, who was then director. Prof. Dressler supervised my diploma thesis on the technical terminology of the printing industry.

I was interested in philosophy of language and linguistics as a whole and started to study linguistics. In 1985 I attended the 2nd International Terminology Summer School, held by INFOTERM, where I had the chance to work as a freelancer. I started my doctoral studies in linguistics, first in Barcelona, then in Vienna, under the supervision of Prof. Dressler and Prof. Wodak. The topic of my doctoral dissertation was on terminology work in the social sciences. In parallel to the doctoral studies in linguistics (morphology, word formation, lexicology, text linguistics, socio-linguistics, and terminology theory) I also studied economics and philosophy, with a focus on philosophy of science.

In 1988 I finished the doctoral studies in linguistics and started to teach science communication and theory of terminology at the Department of Philosophy of Science and the Social Study of Science of the University of Vienna from 1989 to 2005. In 1990, I began to teach translation-oriented terminography at the Institute of Translation and Interpreting of the University of Vienna and also became a staff member of INFOTERM at the Austrian Standards Institute, where I worked until 1996 in the field of national and international standardisation of terminology, technical communication, and library and information management.

I then returned to the University of Vienna, where I became associate professor for knowledge engineering and terminology studies in January 1997. In 2005 I became full professor for terminology studies and translation technologies at the Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Vienna.

2) Agnieszka Antosik: For the last 20 years you have conducted research projects on the national, European and international levels. Can you give some information about the LISE project?

Gerhard Budin: The LISE Project (Legal Language Interoperability Services) addresses the urgent need to coordinate legal and administrative terminologies. It also intends to improve their quality and establish interoperability among such terminologies at cross-national level, and enhances the quality of European legal and administrative terminologies at European institutions.

The LISE project aims at enabling data owners in public administrations and translation departments to manage their terminological data on the basis of best practices in inter-institutional, interdisciplinary, and multilingual terminology management workflows and by using web services to support this work. Major work packages have addressed the analysis of legal and administrative terminologies and workflows to identify current problems and future options for optimisation in different user groups and the development of web services for quality management operations on legal terminology resources.

The project consortium consists of the University of Vienna, the companies Cross Language and Esteam AB, the research institution EURAC (Bolzano), and the Austrian Parliament. For more information please visit the dedicated website.

3) Agnieszka Antosik: You have also coordinated projects funded by the European Commission. One of the most relevant current projects is called “Knowledge Experts”. What is the aim of this project?

Gerhard Budin: The full title of this project was: Knowledge Experts and E-Tutors – Trans-disciplinary professional profiles and qualifications in knowledge-related techniques and procedures, educational technologies and co-operative knowledge and content development.

The goal of the project was to create blended-learning study programmes offering students a collaborative platform to acquire core skills in knowledge work relevant to knowledge society. The term ‘knowledge expert’ refers to a generic qualification in knowledge-intensive branches of industry (including ‘knowledge manager’, ‘knowledge engineer’ and others). It is also an additional qualification for graduates of all study programmes who need to apply knowledge-related techniques and methods such as knowledge organisation, knowledge acquisition, knowledge development and presentation, knowledge transfer, an evaluation of knowledge in social situations, and other activities crucial to modern knowledge society.

Another professional profile included in the Knowledge Experts programme is the ‘e-Tutor’ , covering the skills required to run e-Learning environmentsassisting both teachers and students in their use of e-Learning.

These study programmes were targeted towards, among others, people who decided to go back to college or work after a period of inactivity. The study programme was designed to assist students in acquiring specific qualifications that facilitate their return to the workforce.

Core skills acquired in knowledge techniques and educational technologies include focused knowledge acquisition in digital media, didactic knowledge organization to support learning processes, knowledge communication in cross-cultural and international work environments, design of internet-based learning environments for communities of practice, design and operation of learning platforms and learning content management systems, methods of information mining, co-operative knowledge management, knowledge modeling, information and content management, co-operative authoring of domain-specific texts, web content design, cross-cultural management, project management, human resource management, coaching and mentoring for learners and students, ethical aspects of knowledge society, etc.

The curriculum of the study programme was designed in such a way that it combines theoretical and methodological knowledge with operational and practical socio-technical skills.

The Knowledge Experts project was one of many other projects we have been carrying out in this thematic area of cross-cultural knowledge production, e-Learning, e-Science and e-Work. Our current project in this area is ODS (Open Discovery Space) focusing on a European ecosystem of eLearning Resources for schools.

4) Agnieszka Antosik: You specialise in e-learning technologies among other fields. I can imagine that this area is a very dynamic one. How do you manage to keep up to date with all the newest developments?

Gerhard Budin: For many years I have been focusing on the convergence of various research disciplines, where the management and engineering of knowledge, communication, and cross-cultural domain cooperation on the basis of information and communication technologies are a dynamic core and source for new methods, theories, and best practices.

I have tried to focus on this core research interest in different contexts such as translation, theory of knowledge, text analysis, information management, ontology engineering, etc. Terminology has always been the essence of this multi-faceted and dynamic field. In the above-mentioned ODS project, for instance, we created domain vocabularies as a crucial component of such e-Learning ecosystems for orientation of teachers and learners to find resources and use them in structured, purpose-driven ways.

5) Agnieszka Antosik: You are a full professor at the University of Vienna, member of numerous bodies and organisations as well as an active researcher. Do you see these activities as complimentary or is there one that requires most of your time?

Gerhard Budin: I am convinced that a researcher should get involved in communities of practice, for several reasons: to get access to real-life data for empirical research, to create a context for a proof of concept of new theories and methods, and to get involved in collaborative research with industry and public institutions. The active participation in international and national bodies has turned out to be very fruitful for me.

6) Agnieszka Antosik: In recent years, what new trends have you noticed in terminology studies? What is your perspective for the future?

Gerhard Budin: In the 1980s and 1990s a computational turn had revolutionised terminology studies and had closely linked it to corpus linguistics and computational linguistics, as well as to knowledge engineering and ontology management. At the same time a sociological turn had broadened the field of terminology studies and combined it with socio-linguistics in particular in the contexts of language planning and language policies.

Since then a cognitive turn that had revolutionised linguistics has also extended the scope of terminology studies by focusing on the cognitive dimension of the formation and use of terms in domain communication and their underlying concepts that are constantly re-constructed by each member of a discourse community in individual cognition processes as well as in collective meaning attributions.

An economic turn made visible the economic potential of efficient terminology management in language industries and in international business and trade. The future of terminology studies lies, now as it has always been, in a cross-disciplinary approach, carrying out empirical research driven by questions coming from industries, public institutions, and from scientific institutions at large.

7) Agnieszka Antosik: How do you view the role of the European Union language policies? Does it encourage the development of terminology?

Gerhard Budin: The language policies of the European Union have a long tradition and have always focused on promoting multilingualism in all spheres. Thus, they have shaped the field of terminology as a major driving force for the creation of terminologies in many domains in the official languages of the EU but also in regional and local languages spoken in member states.

IATE is a visible and vivid sign of these policies but also their result and consequence in order to enable translators and interpreters, but also editors and domain professionals in general to maximise their work inside and outside the multilingual European Union.

Many projects, co-funded by the European Union, have focused on the creation of specialised terminology resources for different languages and different domains, for various purposes and embedded in varied organisational and social contexts. Despite all these achievements and success stories, there is no doubt that terminology development will continue to be in need of more visibility, more networked and co-ordinated approaches across member states and EU institutions, across domains and languages.

8) Agnieszka Antosik: What do you think about terminology management in the European Parliament?

Gerhard Budin: TermCoord in the European Parliament definitely belongs to the best of the so-called best practices in the field of terminology management!

9) Agnieszka Antosik: What is your advice to aspiring terminology managers?

Gerhard Budin: I would say that it comes down to few major things:

  • be flexible
  • be open to innovation (tools, methods, data, etc.)
  • network with others in the same profession as well as with others in your professional environments (incl. the social web)
  • develop your personal professional profile, often in combination with other specialised domain-specific or generic skills and make it visible to the world
  • stay in touch with universities and research activities

Interviewed  by Agnieszka Antosik

aniAgnieszka was born in 1987 in Poland. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Intercultural Communication from the University of Vienna and a Master’s degree in Conference Interpreting. She presented her final degree project on the role of terminology in the European Parliament in July 2012. Her working languages are: Polish, German and English. She also knows Russian and is about to learn French. Agnieszka has already had a chance to gain some experience in both translation and interpreting. She completed an internship as a project manager in one of the biggest translation companies in London, where she could get an insight into how the job market works and worked as a simultaneous interpreter at the EWMD Conference (European Women’s Management Development International Network) in Hamburg and consecutive interpreter for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber in Vienna.