Are dictionaries relevant for specialists?

Having worked as a terminologist for some 11 years and witnessing some challenges subject-field specialists have in finding the desired information in a dictionary, it’s not surprising that I have decided to write about specialists and their relation to terminography.  I have also studied this topic in my Master’s dissertation (2012) which was about the general tendency of experts in using specialized dictionaries. It was my first attempt to write about this subject, but it wasn’t the first time observing the role of specialized dictionaries in the academic life of experts.

Based on my experience, it is not occasional that a specialist cannot find a specific term in a technical dictionary, or if it is found, the definition or the semantic relations provided may not be accurate enough. This simply results in further searching for the suitable meaning or some other terminological information by multiple checking and comparison among existing reference resources.  In other words, it might be the case that most lexicographical resources do not fulfill experts’ quality and quantity expectations. A simple question might be “what do they look for that cannot be found in a single specialized dictionary?”. 

Continue reading “Are dictionaries relevant for specialists?”


Mots nous en català / New words in Catalan [Review]

“New words in Catalan” is the first attempt at publishing outcomes of NEOXOC network data analysis on Catalan neologisms from 2008 to 2010. NEOXOC is a network of different research groups in the field of neology; each group is responsible for collecting data, preparation of textual corpora and extracting new words in a certain Catalan dialect. This research network is “financed by the Institut d’Estudis Catalan and formed by the Universities of Alcant, Andorra, Girona, Lleida, Perpignan, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, and Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona” (2014, p. 4). Continue reading “Mots nous en català / New words in Catalan [Review]”

Key Terms: Expert

In terminology science, there are some terms that you might come across while reading technical articles or blog posts that sound very familiar or in some cases very general. However, they have specific meanings and functions in terminology. Decoding the terminology of the subject fields, at least the most common terms, is very important for the mutual understanding and effective communication.

Over time I have also noticed that some of the fundamental terms such as “context”, “expert”, “specialization”, “end-user” or even the basic term “concept” (particularly the perception and implications of concept regarding its position in terminology) are more controversial. The good news is that we, terminologists, are also struggling with these terms and their implications. This simply is due to the very nature of the humanities and language sciences and shows the dynamics of the subject.

So, I have decided to start writing about these terms and presenting some of the most frequent use of them once in a while, and I begin with “expert”.

Continue reading “Key Terms: Expert”

Are our languages more beautiful with lexical borrowing?

For the linguistic materials that may pass from one language into another there is no boundary; however, some materials are more likely to pass than others. Linguistic borrowing could be a common issue which is intently studied and examined in individual languages. Hoffer (2005) has stated that “one of the most easily observable results of intercultural contact and communication is the set of loanwords that is imported into the vocabulary of each language involved”. The spread of English as the language of the Internet and the emphasis placed on English in schools and education suggest that more and more English loanwords will be imported in other countries over the next few decades (See also Long term languages). Continue reading “Are our languages more beautiful with lexical borrowing?”

What is the most effective way to learn about terminology?

The simplest view of the academic discipline of terminology is that it is somehow concerned with the understanding of terms and the appropriate use of them in a given context or in a subject field. However, this does not take us very far as most subject field specialists know a good deal about the terminology of their domain and they use it every day in various situations such as teaching, reading and academic production. This can be described as the conceptual knowledge of specialized domains.

Continue reading “What is the most effective way to learn about terminology?”

Terminological Analysis: Where to Begin?

An analysis is to look for the meaning of things. It is to look for the objectives, to predict the consequences of a series of actions, to detect and discover the fundamental elements, or to anticipate the results and outcomes of a planned strategy.  An analysis is to ask how thing(s) function and what they do or will do under a certain circumstance and why they function or react as they do. Continue reading “Terminological Analysis: Where to Begin?”

Context Matters


“Without context, words and actions have no meaning at all. This is true not only of human communication in words but also of all communication whatsoever, of all mental process, of all mind” [1].

The Communicative Theory of Terminology (CTT), in simple words, is essentially a comprehensive description of how and why terminological units appear in a particular context; and, how these units assist the interlocutors to effectively communicate. The goal of the CTT can be summarized in two main categories:

  1. To produce formal, semantic and functional descriptions of the terminological units in vivo;
  2. To explain their relations with the rest of the units of the linguistic system. Continue reading “Context Matters”