Terminology - Basic Concepts
This thesis contains four chapters, each devoted to a different aspect of the study of terminology management tools. This chapter acts as an introduction to terminology and terminology management in general. First the readers will be presented with the definitions of basic concepts of this discipline. The historical background of terminology management will introduce the most important developments in this branch of knowledge. The final part of this chapter will be devoted to illustrating the significance of terminology management and terminology management tools in translation.
The notions central to terminology management, and thus to this thesis, are term and concept. As defined by Trippel "term is the language sign for a concept. This language sign does not necessarily have to be a single word, but it can also be a set of words - a fixed phrase - used only to denote a specific concept. Terms are not language independent while concepts are."(Trippel 1999).
The term terminology has two possible interpretations. The first one says that it is a specialist vocabulary, used in a particular subject field, also referred to as technical jargon. The other reference of this term is the theory or science dealing with the relations between terms and concepts (Trippel 1999). Another definition states that it is `a structured set of concepts and their designations (graphical symbols, terms, phraseological units, etc.) in a specific subject field.' (POINTER 1996). On the whole, it is an interdisciplinary branch which involves both theoretical and practical aspects of creation, introduction, interpretation, usage, validation, evaluation, correction and classification of terms. There are a number of applications of terminology, among which the most significant are: standardization, research and development, marketing communications, consumer information, language engineering applications, knowledge engineering, computer-aided language learning (CALL), distance learning, computer-aided instruction (CAI), technical writing, corporate information systems, information retrieval, term databanks (TDB), computer-aided translation (CAT), machine translation (MT), human translation, and nomenclature (POINTER 1996).
It is instructive to draw a distinction between the seemingly similar disciplines of terminology and lexicology, as well as terminography and lexicography. While the methodology of the disciplines in question may be in some cases similar, their focus is different. Lexicology is a linguistic specialty dealing with general language vocabulary, while terminology deals exclusively with special language lexis (POINTER 1996). Similarly, the general language dictionaries, compiled as a result of lexicographical work, contain some specialist terms as part of the general vocabulary, however usually embedded in the general language entries. Terminography in turn, deals with compiling special language vocabulary collections solely (POINTER 1996). Another difference is manifested in the direction of work. Terminology collection, usually restricted to a specialist domain, begins with concepts, not terms themselves and proceeds with the mapping of the domain with the concept delimitations i.e. terms, whereas lexicography work starts with vocabulary collection. However, there are linguists who claim that the distinction between the two disciplines may soon be no longer valid due to the imminent convergence of their methodologies (Campenhoudt 2001).
In this thesis the author will focus on the practical aspects of terminology, and its application in machine-assisted human translation (MAHT), therefore only selected issues connected with terminology management will be discussed.
Terminology management involves a number of activities, ranging from terminology collection or extraction, to terminology creation and validation, to classification, storage, retrieval and exchange. For the purposes of this thesis, we will focus only on the following aspects of terminology management: terminology extraction, organization, storage, retrieval and exchange. Some aspects of validation will also be mentioned.
This thesis is devoted to discussing terminology management tools which are often referred to as terminology management systems (TMS). They are software systems which help to create and store terminological data in the form which allows for a controlled use of the data. Terminology management systems have nowadays become indispensable tools for translation agencies and translation project managers. Thus, at least rudimentary knowledge of these systems is required of translators who seek employment with such agencies.