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Terminology . Janina, Marius, Mareen, Ina and Romina. Concept. What is a concept?. A concept is represented by a symbol that we use to name any object e.g. plant greentree wood concept symbol. How do we identify concepts?.

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Janina, Marius, Mareen, Ina and Romina



What is a concept

What is a concept?

  • A concept is represented by a symbol that we use to name any object

    e.g. plant



    concept symbol

How do we identify concepts

How do we identify concepts?

  • The process of concept formation is used to identify concepts

  • Observation and identifying objects as having certain properties

  • Abstraction of properties to name the concept

  • Building groups of abstract types of objects into broader classes

Why do we need characteristics

Why do we need characteristics?

  • The necessary or “essential” characteristics are important to separate one concept from the other

  • e.g. Concept of water vs. concept of lemonade

    The identifying or “essential” characteristic may be the sweetness of lemonade in this case

Tree structure of concept liquids

Tree structure of concept “liquids”

  • Intension = the sum of all characteristics

  • Extension = the range of objects


  • Characteristics can be expressed as:

  • properties of the specific concept or

  • relations to other concepts

  • Next to those characteristics we also need specific classes that concepts belong to

Types of concepts

Types of concepts

  • Many different types of concepts need to be structured carefully

  • Three main methods to structure concepts:

  • class concepts

  • property concepts

  • relation concepts

1 class concepts

1. Class concepts

  • Concepts can be attributed to a class to identify the type of concept

  • e.g.“Venus” is attributed to the class of planets

2 property concepts

2. Property concepts

  • Concepts can be grouped according to common properties and the distinctive features of a class

  • e.g.quadrupeds = animals having four legs

  • The common property = “quadrupeds”

    It can be divided by the distinctive of “being tamed for human use” into domestic and wild animals

3 relation concepts

3. Relation concepts

  • Concepts can be differentiated by the relationships between categories

  • e.g.tables, chairs, cupboards = furniture

  • It can be further differentiated into “household furniture” and “office furniture”



  • Important way to structure concepts because any type of conceptual relationship can be relevant

  • e.g.an object can be related to its geographical origin, its material substance, its method of production, etc.

  • To structure relationships and to differentiate between them, they are divided up into

  • the following main subgroups:

  • Generic relationship

  • Partitive relationship

1 generic relationship

1. Generic relationship

  • Divides concepts up according to a hierarchy:

  • Broader (generic) concept is superordinate to

  • Narrower (specific) concept

  • This most common type of relationship can be expressed by the formula:

  • X is a type of A

    OrX, Y, Z are types of A

    OrA has the specific concepts X, Y, Z

    OrA has the subtype X

The following example presents a horizontal relationship with several layers

The following example presents a horizontal relationship with several layers

At each lower level the degree of specifity becomes higher,

the intention becomes narrower

2 partitive relationship

2. Partitive relationship

  • Also called “whole-part-relationship”

  • Needed to indicate the connection between concepts consisting of more than one part and their constituent parts

  • Can be expressed in the following formula:

  • X is a constituent part of Y

    OrX, Y, Z are constituent parts of A

    Or A consists of X

    OrA consists of X, Y, Z,

Subject classification

Subject classification

  • Needed to classify larger groups of concepts next to the relationship

  • Groups can be found in traditional dictionaries and glossaries as a hierarchical or alphabetical order.

  • Limited by the fact that they cannot reflect relationships


  • The thesaurus is a compromise solution between classification and conceptual relationships.

  • It has a deep hierarchical structure with (sometimes) seven or more sublevels

  • e.g.In a Root-Thesaurus the “mechanical engineering” is subdivided into

  • “Heat engineering”

  • “Fluid engineering”

  • “Vacuum engineering”

  • “Prime movers”

  • “Mechanical systems”


  • At the end we are left with categories of topics or subject areas and not with concepts of separate entities, activities, properties or relations

     Subject classification helpful in structuring and selection of entities for a specialised dictionary

     But beyond this we need a broad structure as well as a complex set of relationships



What is a definition in terminology

What is a Definition in Terminology?

“The explanation of the accepted specialised meanings of lexical items the occurrence of which can be documented in a variety of sources“

Methods of definition

Methods of Definition

  • There are various methods of definition

  • Choice of method according to:

    • the nature of the concept which has to be defined

    • the particular purpose of the definition

Definition by analysis

Definition by Analysis

  • pneumonia = an inflammation of the lung tissue

  • stomatitis = an inflammation of the mouth

  • dog = a domesticated carnivorous mammal

Definition by synonyms

Definition by Synonyms

  • software = logiciel

  • daisy = bellis perennis

  • dog= canis lupus forma familiaris

Definition by paraphrase

Definition by Paraphrase

  • whiteness = the state of being white

  • flotation = the act of making something float

  • lengthen = the process of making something longer

Definition by synthesis

Definition by Synthesis

  • metatarsalgia

    = a painful neuralgic condition of the foot, felt in the ball of the foot and often spreading thence up the leg

  • dog

    = a domesticated carnivorous mammal related to the foxes and wolves and raised in a large variety of breeds

Definition by implication

Definition by Implication

  • dial

    = a clock or watch has a dial divided into segments for hours and minutes over which the hands move

  • diagnosis

    = we make a diagnosis when we identify certain symptoms as characteristic of specific conditions

Definition by denotation

Definition by Denotation

  • dog

    = dogs are spaniels, poodles, Pekinese, alsatians and similar animals

  • ocean

    = oceans are the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean

Definition by demonstration

Definition by Demonstration

  • Definition by showing drawings, photographs or pointing to an object

A theory of terms

A Theory of Terms

The onomasiological approach

The Onomasiological Approach

  • Lexicographer: collects ‘all’ words of a language, sorts them in various ways

  • Terminologist: interest in subsets of the lexicon, which constitute the vocabulary of special language  needs to structure knowledge orders terms he has discovered by reference to a conceptual system

  • Rarely involved in the process of naming an original concept

  • !!! A word can belong to more than one area of knowledge  terminologist has to distinguish meaning before he distinguishes words

The traditional terminological theory

The Traditional Terminological Theory

  • A ‘naming’ approach

  • It starts from concepts and looks for the names of these concepts

  • Avoids occurrence of homonyms

  • Terminological dictionary: words are ordered in single entries with each separate sense of a word

The lexicographical approach

The Lexicographical Approach

  • A ‘meaning’ approach

  • It starts from words and looks for their meaning

Terms and their forms

Terms and Their Forms

  • Terms are the linguistic representation of concepts

  • Special language: strive to systematize principles of designation and name concepts according to pre-specified rules

  • Process of scientific observation and description includes designation of concepts  manipulating lexical forms

English terminology

English Terminology

Synthetic and analytic means of term


  • Synthetic methods: modify lexical items by means of affixes

  • Analytic methods: combine independent and lexical units into larger units (e.g. compounding)

Modern terminological theory

Modern Terminological Theory

  • Accepts the occurrence of synonymic expressions and variants of terms

  • Terminology adopts a corpus-based approach to lexical data collection

     a term is no longer seen as a separate item

Terms in dictionaries

Terms in Dictionaries

  • Concepts represented in terminological dictionaries are predominantly expressed by the linguistic form of nouns

  • Only selected verbs and adjectives

  • Dictionary entries are relatively uniform:

    • Semantic and pragmatic information

    • Graphic information

    • Acronyms / other abbreviated forms

    • Contextual variations

    • Multiple compound nouns

Homonyms synonyms and variations

Homonyms, Synonyms and Variations

  • No concept of only one designation

  • Need to establish criteria for identifying the one regular and proper name for a concept to which the other are variants

Status of terms

Status of Terms

  • Terms can have a variable pragmatic status

  • It is associated with their age, acceptability, exclusiveness of existence and spread of use


    (e.g. ‘sitt’ (German))

  • Translation theory  ‘quality label’

Processes of terminologisation

Processes of Terminologisation

  • Terminologist:

    • Recorder of new terms

    • Advisor on designation

    • Administrator of gradual evolution of terms


  • Terminologisation: evolution of concepts is accompanied by stages of naming

  • In the development of knowledge the concepts undergo changes

  • Innovation in science is dependent upon our ability to question the validity of certain concepts while keeping others fixed

The question of terminologisation is fundamental to the description of special language

The Question of Terminologisation is Fundamental to the Description of Special Language

  • Special communication: particular grouping of lexical items must be clearly assigned to either free collocations or compounds

  • Idioms used by specialists are terminologised

  • Problem for lexicographers: must distinguish between inherent and the collocational meaning of the lexical item


  • Difficulties for terminologists: recognition of terminological units in running texts

  •  lexicalization solves the problem by form of external characteristic like graphemic signs

  •  terminologisation is less dependent on such devices, because special language users are expected to know the appropriate concepts

A model of communication

A Model of Communication

A model of communication1

A Model of Communication

  • Two specialists in the same discipline

  • Sender is motivated to transmit a message

  • Sender expects recipient message to receive


  • Message is the totality of

  • Intention

  • Assumed expectations

  • Knowledge content

  • Language selected by sender

  • Specialist communication is highly conventional and stylised


  • Intention transmitted by non- linguistical means through

  • text forms of instructions

  • manuals

  • income tax returns,.....


  • Compositional signals to signify intention

  • Includes devices as

  • lay- out

  • capitalisation

  • underlining

  • paragraph numbering

  • subtitling

  • Footnotes and bibliographic references fulfil an additional intention

  • Communication is not successful, if sender’s intention is misinterpreted!!!


  • How do you achieve a successful communication?

  • Choice of intention

  • The selection of Knowledge

  • Choice of language

The functional efficacy of terms

The Functional Efficacy of Terms


  • Use of special languages restricted

  • Special language differs from general language in that :

    a) Constituted of special text types

    • laboratory reports

    • test certifications

    • special syntax

      b) Use of terms in addition to words


  • Criteria for evaluating effectiveness of communication ( 3 objectives) :

  • Message should be:

  • economical

  • precise

  • appropriate




  • Conceptual innovation becomes manifested in the creation of new terms

  • New terms are introduced to fill gaps or to replace existing ones

  • A new concept becomes standardized when users reach public agreement

  • Sets of definitions in textbooks, glossaries or manuals are the outward manifestation of this process

     Standardization is fixation of meaning

Motivation for standardization

Motivation for Standardization

In the interest of:

  • Economy

  • Precision

  • Appropriateness

Principles of standardization

Principles of Standardization

  • Standardization is introduced after new concepts, objects and processes are established

  • Then names are given to these new concepts

  • Many alternatives exist

  • Standardization is a retrospective activity

Instruments of standardization

Instruments of Standardization

  • How do terms become standardized?

  • Nomenclature commissions play a role in the efforts of standardization in their particular subject fields

  • In the industrial sector, national standardization bodies are active

  • Very few guidelines for the selection, definition and publication of terminology

     lack of uniformity


  • ISO (International Organization for Standardization)

  • Issued basic recommendations

  • Works on principles of and guidelines for terminology

Objectives of standardization

Objectives of Standardization

  • ISO established seven principles on standardization

  • Objects are standardized first and then a term becomes standardized

  • Standardization is a social and economic activity

  • The publication of a standard has little value in itself


4. The establishment of a standard firstly requires a choice of a suitable term and secondly a fixation of this term and this definition

5. Standardization must be re- examined at regular intervals and revised

6. It is necessary to determine test methods in order to verify whether the object conforms to the specifications

7. A standard has to be legally enforced and is a matter of convenience and economy

Methods of standardization

Methods of Standardization

  • There is a variety of methods and possibilities available to standardization

  • Redefinition of words

  • Redefinition of existing terms

  • Derivation

  • Composition

  • Borrowing

  • Compression

The efficacy of standard in terminology

The Efficacy of Standard in Terminology

  • Standardization makes communication more effective

  • Standards are:

  • economical

  • precise

  • appropriate


  • When the social, situational and intellectual role differences between participants in communication are minimal a higher proportion of standardized terms can be used

  • Standardization undermines the creativity of a language

Standardizing agencies and glossaries

Standardizing Agencies and Glossaries

  • They produce glossaries to facilitate communication


  • The British Standards Guide says about terms contained in a standard glossary that „Terminology within a standard should be consistent, so that the same object or concept is always described or expressed by the same term and not by the use of synonyms“

  • The members of a standardizing company determine which terms get included


  • Only very few areas of British standardization are covered by glossaries

  • Glossaries can be written before standardization of objects, methods or specifications begins

  • Glossaries can be compiled after standards are established to collect the terminology

  • So glossaries may be needed to prepare effective standards and effective standards lead to glossaries

  • Glossaries fulfil the aim of standardization to provide means of communication


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