Terminology and language planning

Creating and managing terminology obviously shares some objectives with language planning in general. Yet researchers in the two fields have had relatively little contact with each other. In his 1983 report on the state of the field, Jernudd (1983: 350), despite spending considerable time identifying various terminology organizations as examples of corpus planning, stated that “[t]he lack of mutual reference between the term-planning network today and [language planning research] is striking (as any bibliography shows)”. Nearly twenty years later, Antia (2000: xv) came to the same conclusion: “[t]erminology and LP, as academic communities, have had precious little contact between them”. Bibliographies of recent terminological works (e.g., Ballarin 2009) continue to confirm Jernudd’s statement.

The central and most important terminological theory is the General Theory of Terminology. Other theories proposed over the last few decades have generally defined themselves against the background of this theory, complementing rather than fully replacing it (L’Homme, Heid, and Sager 2003). The General Theory of Terminology is typically sympathetic to internationalisms and borrowings. In order to facilitate international communication, its proponents have explicitly recommended that terms in different languages should be similar, as in the following citation from UNESCO’s Terminology Manual: “In general preference should be given to international forms. Having the choice between two synonyms for designating a concept, the one which appears in the same or a similar form in other languages is to be preferred” (Felber 1984: 176). However, this is a rather extreme point of view. For instance, the current ISO norm on “terminology work” - while generally accepting borrowings - recommends a preference for native language expressions, which “should be given preference over direct loans” (ISO 704:2009: Section

Apart from practical considerations, a terminology of their own also has important symbolic value for languages aspiring to expand their social functions, as Cabre (2004:191) and others have stressed. The socioterminological school, active primarily in France and other French-speaking polities like Quebec, studies the relationship between terminologies and their social environments. It has produced many analyses of how proposed terminologies in specific fields of activity have been implemented (cf. the bibliographies in Gaudin 2003 and Ballarin 2009). Other authors from Quebec have devised theories of terminology planning (amenagement terminologique, Auger 1987) and approaches to evaluating the implantation of newly coined terminology (terminometrie, e.g., Quirion 2003, 2011).

Term formation, as defined by Sager (1990: 80), can be primary (a term is created simultaneously with the concept for which it stands) or secondary (a term is created in order to correspond to an already existing term in another - or the same - language). Term creation with the objective of replacing borrowed terms - or of preventing borrowing - is thus, by definition, secondary term formation. In evaluating terminologies that result from secondary term formation in this sense, the concept of terminological dependency advanced by Humbley and Garcia Palacios (2012) may be helpful. Such dependency arises when, in a certain subject field, not only individual terms but whole terminological structures are transferred without consideration of other possible options offered by the receiving language (Humbley and Garcia Palacios 2012: 79). These two authors focus on research in the natural sciences since strict terminological dependency (on English) is especially problematic there. However, the concept could be applied to any subject field; in particular, the language of economics and business is also notorious for its dependency on English.

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