BIK Terminology—

Solving the terminology puzzle, one posting at a time

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    Barbara Inge Karsch - Terminology Consulting and Training

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Archive for the ‘Terminologist’ Category

Part-time position for an Arabic terminologist

Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on October 28, 2012

Just in case you are not part of the LinkedIn Terminology group, I am cross-posting this job announcement from Kara Warburton.

She is “looking for a freelance terminologist to work part time on English/Arabic terminology. Must have knowledge and experience in the field of Terminology. All work can be done remotely. Qualified candidates can contact [Kara] by sending a message to [Kara’s] LinkedIn address.”

For more information go to the LinkedIn site and contact Kara.


Posted in Job posting, Terminologist | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Terminology internship at Eurocopter in France

Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on October 8, 2012

I am glad there is such enthusiasm about the job postings. And, lo and behold, here is already the next opportunity for a budding terminologist.Microsoft ClipArt

Eurocopter (Marignane) is looking for an intern for a 6-month internship. 

At the start of 2012, Eurocopter launched a terminology standardisation project to improve the coherence of its deliverables and its customer satisfaction. This standardisation is essentially targeted at technical terms and more specifically the names of parts, titles of drawings and the names of systems, generally called "designations".  To improve the quality of its terminology, Eurocopter has implemented designation or terminology rules, a process and a French/English terminology database.

Eurocopter is looking for an intern to support its team of terminologists and assist them in their daily work.

For more information see the job posting.

Posted in Job posting, Terminologist | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Terminologist position at IBM Canada

Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on October 1, 2012

There are not a lot of trained terminologists around the world and not necessarily a lot of positions either. I get questions on how to find a job from students and former students often enough. From now on, I will try to provide ways to make that connection and also post job openings. Here is one from IBM.Microsoft ClipArt

Job Title: Terminologist

Main Responsibilities include:
The terminology group helps product developers, writers, and translators use the correct terminology in IBM products and materials. The group currently has an open position for a junior terminologist. Regular tasks include creating and updating terminological entries in a multilingual terminology database, and identifying terms from an automatically extracted corpus that are relevant to translators. The position includes the following additional responsibilities:

  • Researching and defining new terms
  • Using a terminology management system to create, update, or streamline definitions, and add other metadata such as parts of speech, grammatical information, and context sentences
  • Using sound terminological principles, establish relationships between synonyms and other related concepts
  • Importing new terminology into the database and exporting existing terminology into various forms of output including glossaries and bilingual dictionaries
  • Working with writers and translators worldwide to establish a controlled vocabulary


  • Excellent command of English with excellent writing and communication skills
  • Education program: Linguistics, Terminology, Semiotics, or Translation degree

    For more information see the job posting.

  • Posted in Job posting, Terminologist | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

    Is “cloud” a technical term (yet)?

    Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on October 11, 2011

    We have jargon, we have words, we have phrases…we have terms. Can words become terms? How would that happen? And has “the cloud” arrived as a technical concept yet?

    clip_image003Cloud, as a word, is part of our everyday vocabulary. With the summer over, it’ll again be part of our daily lives in the Pacific Northwest for the next eight months. On the right is a good definition from the Merriam Webster Learner’s Dictionary. The Learner’s Dictionary is not concerned with technical language, as it is compiled for non-native speakers. So, the definition doesn’t allude to the fact that clouds, in a related sense, are also part of the field of meteorology and therefore part of a language for special purposes (LSP).

    When common everyday words are used in technical communication and with specialized meaning, they have become terms through a process called terminologization. Is cloud, as in cloud computing, there yet? Or is it still in this murky area where marketing babel meets technical communication? It certainly was initially.

    Here is a great blog on when cloud was used for the first time. Author John M. Willis asked his Twitter followers Who Coined The Phrase Cloud Computing? and could then trace back the first occurrences to May of 1997 and a patent application for “cloud computing” by NetCentric; then to a 1999 NYT article that referred to a Microsoft “cloud of computers”, and finally to a speech by Google’s Eric Schmidt who Willis says he would pick as the moment when the cloud metaphor became mainstream.

    Cloud Managed, really? Picture by BIK

    That was 2006, and “the cloud” may have become part of the tech world’s hype, but it wasn’t a technical term with a solid and clearly delineated definition. As Willis points out “cloud computing was a collection of related concepts that people recognized, but didn’t really have a good descriptor for, a definition in search of a term, you could say.”

    Yes, we had the designator, but did we really have a clear definition? In my mind, everyone defined it differently. For a while, the idea of “the cloud” was batted around mostly by marketing and advertising folks whose job it is to use hip language and create positive connotations. When “the cloud” and other marketing jargon sound like dreams coming true to disposed audiences, they usually spell nightmare to terminologists. The path of a “cloud dream” into technical language is a difficult one. In 2008, I was part of a terminology taskforce within the Windows Server team who tried to nail down what cloud computing was. I believe the final definition wasn’t set when I left in May 2010.

    On a recent walk, though, I took my resident Azure architect evangelist (See You say Aaaazure, I say Azuuuure…) through a good analysis of the conceptual area. Although Greg kept saying that some of the many companies in cloud computing these days “would also include x, y, or z,” x, y and z all turned out to not be “essential characteristics.” And we ended up with the following definition. It is based largely on the one published by Netlingo, but modified to meet more of the criteria of a terminological definition:


    “A type of computing in which dynamic, scalable and virtual resources are provided over the Internet and which includes services that provide common business applications online and accessible from a Web browser, while the software and data are stored on servers.”

    Wouldn’t it be great, if a terminologist could stand by to assist any time a new concept is being created somewhere? Then, we’d have nice definitions and well-formed terms and appellations right away. Since that is utopia, at least it helps to be aware that language is in flux, that marketing language might be deliberately nebulous, and that it might take time before a majority of experts have agreed on what something is and how it is different from other things around it. I think “the cloud” and “cloud computing” have been terminologized and arrived in technical language.


    Posted in Branding, Coining terms, Content publisher, Interesting terms, Terminologist | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

    A few Anglicisms

    Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on September 29, 2011

    Source: Cambridge Dictionaries Online

    It may be a bit of a challenge to write about Anglicisms or Americanisms in the English language, although Ivan Kanič did so successfully in a previous guest post. I have gathered a few over the years that deserve to be shared, though. From a terminology perspective, Anglicisms fall into the category of term formation, often poor term formation. But what I will share below is mostly sloppy, if funny language use.

    At the Microsoft subsidiary in Munich, products were “launched” even in German, which resulted in spoken statements to the extent of “Wir haben das Produkt gelaunscht.” Note that “to launch” was Germanized so that it was more easily pronounceable. One could get the impression that there are not enough ways to say “to start something” in German, as processes and such were usually “getriggert.”

    Microsoft Clip ArtI had worked in the US for many years prior to joining the team in Munich and more than once smiled inwardly, when people essentially butchered both languages. I think it a bit more disturbing, when journalists litter their reports with Anglicisms, even if some of the words may eventually become part of the German language. On May 25, the announcer on Bayern 5, a news station that I listen to over the internet, said that due to the eruption of the Grimsvötn volcano not all flights had left airports as planned. She said something to the extent of “Airlines haben Flüge gecancelt…und Maschinen konnten den Airport nicht verlassen.“ Needless to say, there are perfectly good German words for airlines, cancel and airport.

    A relative of mine who moved to the US many decades ago and kept her German up to the best of her abilities still takes the cake, and I mean this in a loving way. Her little garden house had shifted during storm, she told me in a mix of German and English, but most notable with a wonderful Franconian accent: “Do hat da Wind mei Sched gemuvt.” Fortunately, she is not in a language profession where linguistic interferences could be the end of one’s career.

    Posted in Terminologist | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

    UI is communication

    Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on August 19, 2011

    And communication contains technical terminology. Here is a simple way of showing this.clip_image002

    A UX designer who gets not only the user focus, but who also knows the critical role of language is my former colleague, Windows UX designer and now principal of UX Design Edge, Everett McKay. I borrowed the title of this posting from his presentation: UI is communication.

    Obviously not everything on the user interface is language or terminology-related. And with the increased use of touch, voice or motion interaction, we might see an even clearer focus of certain types of software on these other ways of communication.

    But a simple screen shot without words can demonstrate that certain types of user interfaces rely heavily, if not exclusively, on language as the means of communication between the developer of the product and the user. If the developer does not communicate the intent of the form, screen, etc. well, the user will struggle.

    Here is a form without words. Get it? No? No problem: I designed it in Visual Studio myself, and I am a level 0 designer on Everett’s scale. So, there is nothing to get other than terminology on the form matters.


    Posted in Terminologist, Usability | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

    New office mate at BIK’s

    Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on July 27, 2011

    Luke Karsch-Oliver

    One of the disadvantages of having your own consultancy is that you either travel or you are in your office by yourself. At BIK, we just changed that. Meet our new office mate, Luke.

    Ok, BIK has never been completely alone. There are the lunches with clients, partners, former colleagues and friends. And, of course, there was Anton. Yes, I use the past tense because our dear friend passed away rather quickly a little over four weeks ago. I am grateful for all the many years we spent together. He left a big hole, though.

    Since there is no travel scheduled for a while and it got too quiet in the office very quickly, we adopted a 5-months-old Dalmatian-Lab mix. I don’t expect that you will be hearing from him all that often (although he is a great opera singer!). But I thought you should know what I have been busy with. Meet Luke and stay tuned for a trip report on HCI International 2011.

    Posted in Terminologist | 10 Comments »

    Avoiding doublettes or a report from the ISO meetings in Korea

    Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on June 23, 2011

    One of the main reasons we have doublettes in our databases is that we often don’t get around to doing proper terminological analysis. I was just witness to and assistant in a prime example of a team doing this analysis at the meetings of ISO TC37.

    ISO TC 37 is the technical committee for “Terminology and other language and content resources.” It is the standards body responsible for standards such as ISO 12620 (now retired, as discussed in an earlier posting), 704 (as discussed here) or soon 26162 (already quoted here). This year, the four subcommittees (SCs) and their respective working groups (WGs) met in Seoul, South Korea, from June 12 through 17.

    One of these working groups had considerable trouble coming to an agreement on various aspects of a standard. Most of us know how hard it is to get subject matter experts (or language people!) to agree on something. Imagine a multi-cultural group of experts who are tasked with producing an international standard and who have native languages other than English, the language of discussion! The convener, my colleague and a seasoned terminologist, Nelida Chan, recognized that the predicament could be alleviated by some terminology work, more precisely by thorough terminological analysis.

    First, she gave a short overview of the basics of terminology work, as outlined in ISO 704 Terminology work – Principles and methods. Then the group agreed on the subject field and listed it on a white board. Any of the concepts up for discussion had to be in reference to this subject field; if the discussion drifted off into general language, the reminder to focus on the subject field was right on the board.

    The group knew that they had to define and name three different concepts that they had been struggling with, although lots of research had been done; so we put three boxes on the board as well. We then discussed, agreed on and added the superordinate to each box, which was the same in each case. We also discussed what distinguished each box from the other two. Furthermore, we found examples of the concepts and added what turned out to be subordinates right into the appropriate box. Not until then did we give the concepts names. And now, naming was easy.View from the meeting room onto Olympic National Park in Seoul, by BIK

    Step 1 .

    Subject field

    Step 2 Superordinate Superordinate Superordinate
    Step 3 Distinguishing characteristic 1
    Distinguishing characteristic 2
    Distinguishing characteristic 1
    Distinguishing characteristic 2
    Distinguishing characteristic 1
    Distinguishing characteristic 2
    (Step 4) . Subordinate
    Step 5 Designator Designator Designator


    After this exercise, we had a definition, composed of the superordinate and its distinguishing characteristics as well as terms for the concepts. Not only did the group agree on the terms and their meanings, the data can now also be stored in the ISO terminology database. Without doublettes.

    Granted, as terminologists we don’t often have the luxury of having 15 experts in one room for a discussion. But sometimes we do: I remember discussing terms and appellations for new gaming concepts in Windows Vista with marketing folks in a conference room at the Microsoft subsidiary in Munich. Even if we don’t have all experts in shouting distance, we can proceed in a similar fashion and collect the information from virtual teams and other resources in our daily work. It may take a little bit to become fluent in the process, but terminological analysis helps us avoid doublettes and pays off in the long run.

    Posted in Events, Researching terms, Standardizing entries, Subject matter expert, Terminologist, Terminology 101, Terminology methods, Terminology principles | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

    Poll: Users and resource reliability

    Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on June 19, 2011

    Writers, editors, translators and other professionals rely on language resources, such as terminology databases. Since they are compiled by humans, they might contain errors. How often would you consult a resource which seems unreliable?

    Posted in Content publisher, Terminologist, Translator | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

    A home run is a home run is a home run?

    Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on February 20, 2011

    Indeed. Except if it has been “determinologized.” If terminologization is when a common everyday word turns into a technical term, then the reverse process is when a technical term from a technical subject field becomes part of our everyday vernacular. The process was identified, analyzed and, I believe, named by Ingrid Meyer and Kristen Mackintosh in a paper in Terminology in 2000.

    They describe two categories of determinologization.

    1. The term retains essentially the same meaning, but is no longer used by subject matter experts referring to a concept in their field. Rather the subject matter might have become popularized, and laypersons understand enough about the concept to use the term. The term in the layman’s use refers to a “more shallow” meaning of the concept or one that also has other connotations.

    Good examples are medical terms of diseases that are prevalent enough for all of us to have an idea about them. Insomnia, for instance, is a condition that for medical professionals is highly complex. imageThey might break it down into sleep maintenance insomnia, sleep-onset insomnia, etc. and treated it with benzodiazepines. It might be chronic or intermittent, familial or even fatal.

    At some point, we all might have talked about it in a less medical sense. Here is the entry in the Urban Dictionary—a listing on this website is a good indication that a term has become a word in common usage. And to the right is an excerpt from the South African Mail&Guardian about a chess player who can’t sleep before competitions.

    In these examples, the meaning behind the word “insomnia” remains the same as in the medical context: Someone can’t sleep. But our associations don’t take us to the clinical setting, rather we get a sense of the mood of the sufferer or the chosen cure.

    2. The word now describes a completely different concept. While it shares some characteristics with the meaning in the technical subject of the term, it does no longer share the essential characteristics.

    The Monday-morning quarterback is not a John Elway or Peyton Manning rising on the first workday of the week. It is the guy who watched them the day before and now tells his buddies how the quarterback could have done a better job or how anyone could have done a better job in any subject matter. The essence of the concept in sports, i.e. an American football player, is completely gone in this general use of “quarterback.”clip_image004

    A term from another sport, baseball, which has been determinologized, is home run. The excerpt from the Wall Street Journal shows that when someone hits a home run, there is no batter involved, not even a hit in the sport’s sense. But it is “a success.”

    Enough baseball terminology has made it into the American vernacular that Dr. Jerry Roth at Sprachen- und Dolmetscher Institut in Munich gave it a special focus during our studies. He even had us meet in Englischer Garten for a game.

    Why do we care? Well, if we create new terms, borrow them from other fields or languages, terminologize or determinologize them, the receiver of our message—and that does include translators in many cases—only understands it if our usage has the appropriate level of precision. Understanding the methods that we have to our avail allows us to choose the best methods. The likelihood that others will understand our message then is much higher. And after all, understanding is what communication is about.

    Posted in Advanced terminology topics, Content publisher, Interesting terms, Process, Terminologist | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

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