28(2) - 2016

Kockaert, Hendrik J. & Steurs, Frieda (Eds.). (2015). Handbook of terminology (HOT), vol. 1. Amsterdam: Benjamins

Book review by John Humbley

This volume is the first of a series of five, available in print and online, linked thematically to the publisher’s Handbook of translation studies. The editors have called upon leading specialists of terminology from both university and – importantly for a handbook – from industry, and claim, justifiably as will be shown, to be fundamentally user-oriented. This first volume is a highly authoritative presentation of present-day issues, methods and practices in terminology. The present review briefly presents each chapter, with some emphasis given to those showing a direct or indirect relationship with translation studies.

If terminology has a direct link with translation, it has generally been defined in relation to linguistics, and in the foreword, D. Geeraerts gives an even-handed presentation of what separated these two disciplines in the twentieth century and what unites them in the twenty-first. P. Faber presents frame-based terminology, which can be regarded as a major step to applying linguistic theory (Fillmore is but one of several theoretical linguists called on here) to terminological analysis and to the resulting terminography. It goes beyond natural language in incorporating images into the basic framework on a large scale. This chapter will provide useful theoretical guidelines for students with practical experience venturing into research.

Relations with lexicography have also been determining for terminology, sometimes thought of as specialised lexicography. K. Kageura examines the assumptions which underlie both of these activities and points out that most of the discrepancies in fact stem from differing points of view. This chapter is remarkable in that it accounts for the widely differing approaches in terminology in a dispassionate, analytical way and effectively pilots the beginner through what in the past have been troubled waters.

Several of the first chapters are devoted to a fundamental question for both fields: the definition. P. ten Hacken starts off by reviewing the applications of the definition in terminology, which has long emphasised the need for “necessary and sufficient conditions” in drafting a proper terminological definition, whereas prototypical definitions can be regarded more typical of lexicographical practice. He argues that the two are appropriate in terminology according to the use they are to be put to: a fully-fledged “terminological” definition is only worthwhile in the case of potential situations of conflict, whereas other types of definition may best reflect a practice or even a theory.

Intensional definitions (those with “necessary and sufficient conditions”) are widely regarded as the real terminological definition (cf. ten Hacken’s chapter), so the contribution made by Löckinger, Kockaert and Budin lives up to the ambition of the handbook and provides a real guide for the writing of these demanding definitions, once the conceptual analysis is well on the way. It is much more didactic than the ISO 1 704 (2004) standard which underpins most of the examples. The chapter goes on to present in the same didactic form Unified Modelling Language (UML), a concept modelling language used in terminology, also subject to an ISO standard and referred to in other chapters as well.

Although they are extraordinarily useful in many contexts, extensional definitions have been very much the poor relation in terminography, so it is heartening to see that H. Nilsson – himself an experienced terminographer – has gone a long way towards rehabilitating them for appropriate use. The chapter is not simply a demonstration of the usefulness of extensional definitions and indications as to the circumstances in which they are appropriate (such as legal terminology), but also provides a typology of such definitions, including the closely related referential and partitive definitions. The important issue of the order of enumeration, hitherto glossed over, is addressed directly here. This long awaited article does not disappoint.

C. Roche provides an essential chapter for a modern terminology handbook on the ontological definition, and more generally on ontology itself and its relations with terminology. Ontology itself is defined as the formal specifications of a conceptualization, a necessary step in modelling conceptual terminological systems, considered valid for a particular community (generally of experts) at a particular time. The presentation is careful to show the complementary nature of language and conceptual analysis for terminology work. As ontology is frequently misunderstood, this is a key chapter for those who wish to keep up to date with applications of terminology. I. Santos and R. Costa devote another very useful chapter on the complementary application of conceptual and linguistic analysis to a domain-specific project. This is one of the most fraught questions in terminology circles, and these authors strongly advise against an either/or approach, though they demonstrate the necessity of correctly ordering the methodology. Once again, this is a practical chapter with far-reaching theoretical implications.

ISO has a long history of involvement in terminology going back to Wüster, and their recommendations are constantly quoted in this book. L. Depecker, a long-serving chairman of the principal terminology committee, sets out the epistemological and philosophical principles on what can be considered the terminology of terminology is established. Many of these go back to the Enlightenment but their relevance today is highlighted in this chapter. ISO has decided to include associative relations in its extension of Unified Modelling Language (UML), an undertaking of considerably greater scale than incorporating extensive definitions which we have just alluded to. P. Sambre and C. Wermuth tackle this undertaking with purely linguistic arms, most notably with frame semantics and construction grammar. The account they give of the many associative categories is based on a corpus study of 200 titles of the Journal of General and Thoracic Cardiovascular Surgery. The clarity with which the categories are extracted however categorizes this chapter as the contribution to a handbook, rather than as a research article, since it can be used to learn how to perform these associative analyses. It is argued – and convincingly so – that this dynamic approach to terminology requires hands-on working through real communicative situations. One is impressed by the number and range of works cited in this chapter both for terminology and general linguistics – a good step in further narrowing the gap between the two.

C. Dobrina details seven types of terminology projects, drawing on the experience of the Swedish term centre TNC (founded in 1941). These are distinguished from on-demand terminology services, though the latter depend on the former. In addition to the typology, two methods of project management are described in detail. Space precludes mentioning every step in the process, but it may be felt that the task of creating and managing a corpus should be highlighted more than it is here.

Automatic term extraction has been a major field of terminological activity for a quarter of a century now, and K. Heylen and D. De Hertog review the experience garnered over this period, showing how various methods often presented as alternatives in fact complement one another; an efficient overview of a vast quantity of research – good starting point to get to grips in what is involved in a term project. It also gives a good idea of what remains to be done. F. Steurs, K. De Wachter and E. De Malscho review five recommended term management tools in a translation environment: SLD Multiterm (Trados), MemoQ, Wordbee, I-term and the Dutch-language term extractor TermTreffer. These are analysed under the following criteria: presentation, interface, record structure, in- and output and integrations. The comparative grids obtained provide an excellent overview of the differing potentialities of each tool tested, grids which can be further used to evaluate and compare other tools, for example from Southern Europe. B.N. Madsen and H.E. Thomsen present ontologies for terminologists and distinguish between concept modelling and data modelling, both having their respective relevance in term analysis – the present-day outcome of decades of concept-oriented terminology work carried out in Scandinavia.

P. Reynolds surveys machine translation and translation memories from the point of view of the practitioner. He suggests that improvements in building parallel data with bilingual terminology can achieve better results than translation memory only. True to the handbook model, this chapter provides step by step descriptions of translation projects using a small number of basic machine translation methodologies, focusing on how and when terminology data should be entered. The chapter ends on an FAQ. The style in this chapter is particularly user-friendly and non academic, similar to that used in the localisation world.

Is crowdsourcing the key to producing usable quantities of reliable terminology? B.I. Kaersch suggests that for certain well-defined projects it may well be an appropriate solution, and the chapter is devoted to outlining these conditions and explaining how a crowdsourced project can be managed, and more particularly with which tool (Term Wikis included). The tone is reassuring, as the author obviously has first-hand experience in crowdsourced projects.

L. Bowker goes some way to suggesting criteria to calculate the return on investment of terminology research in the context of specialized translation, in particular the cost of establishing a term base. The article first focuses the complementary use to be made of large, generally institutional term banks, and more specialized term bases, then homes in on the larger question of the integration of terminology into the translation environment. She notes the increasing importance of translation memory as a source of bilingual terminology and of reliance on open rather than strictly controlled sources, a point taken up with differing viewpoints in other chapters. She also points to a new awareness of the importance of subject specific – though not necessarily terminological – phraseology, though this term is not used in the article – including those thrown up in general language by term extractors. There also seems to be a growing tendency for cooperation in creating and building term bases, with such tools as Term Wiki. It is argued that it is important for trainees to use the whole range of tools available and not just stand alone terminology resources. A significant number of students graduating from translation courses today quickly become project managers, so the inclusion of a series of chapters on this increasingly important aspect of both terminology and translation is a welcome feature. The first chapter is by S. Cerrella Bauer, who has considerable experience in the field of localisation and focuses more specifically on the term project from both strategic (SWOT analyses etc.) and operational viewpoints, though generally speaking, the chapter covers project management in the language industries as a whole. M. Popiolek, in a remarkable chapter, examines the role terminology management plays in quality assurance control in the context of translation, pointing to the importance of standards (industry-wide, national, European and international) and gives step by step indications of how the process is integrated. In the third and longest chapter on project management, K. Warburton argues cogently for specific company-orientated terminology management in a commercial environment, significantly different from methods appropriate in research and in language-planning contexts. She explains that the background of company terminologists has up to now been predominantly in translation, thus masking its importance at authoring stages. Indeed, Warburton cites no less than 22 areas other than translation where terminology has a role to play in the business world. As in so many of the chapters, this author is at pains to show what aspects of traditional terminology is still relevant to commercial uses, and the specific changes that need to be made. A. Melby is the world expert on terminology exchange formats, and his chapter focuses on the specific needs for these in the translation and localisation industries. Two “case studies” are included, both of the highest relevance to translation studies: one on constructing a bilingual legal terminology resource using frame semantics, a linguistic approach already presented and used in preceding chapters (J. Pimentel), the other on terminology as needed for internationalization and localization (K.D. Schmitz).

The final chapters are devoted to terminology as a component of language planning: a critical take on South African language policy regarding terminology by B.E. Antia, another on the complex situation in Canada by N. Chan, and a third, more general appraisal of the social and organizational context of terminology work in countries promoting national languages, by A. Drame, drawing on the experience of the Vienna Summer Schools in terminology.

As it can be gathered from the above, this first volume of a terminology series lives up to its ambitions. It is effectively a handbook which should be available to all students engaged in professional translation programmes. Although emphasis is clearly laid on the practical aspects, the theory which underpins these choices is by no means sidelined. The strong point is indeed the careful blending of theory and practice, with emphasis on the practical use that both students and trainers can derive from this work. Several chapters could be transformed into teaching material. Some aspects which are highlighted here are relevant to translation though hitherto seldom explored, such as standardization, a feature which reoccurs in many of the chapters.

There are indeed only very few reserves. The writing style is generally clear and pedagogical – several authors are visibly experts not just in terminology but also in technical communication – but some chapters have not been as closely proof-read as others, and there are some typographical errors and ungrammatical sentences, which contrasts with the very high quality material production – including many illustrations – of the book. Though many authors are careful to be gender neutral, a surprising number of texts assume that the terminologist or indeed the translator is a man, when it is well known that a majority are indeed women. The chapters are generally very well researched and the only reserve which could be made from this point of view is what may be felt to be an overrepresentation of English-language publications, and an underrepresentation of, say, Spanish-language terminology research – is this a trend for handbooks in general?

This volume deserves an unqualified recommendation.

1 International Standards Organisation : http://www.iso.org/iso/home.html

DOI 10.17462/para.2016.02.08

October 18, 2016
  28(2) - 2016