May 2014

Event Report

Workshop on Applied Terminology Work in Antwerp on May 6, 2014

Birgitta Meex

“Terminology? We do not require it!” “Terminology work is just an academic exercise for linguists, isn’t it”? On May 6, 2014 the Faculty of Arts of the University of Leuven in Antwerp was happy to host another tekom Belgium event to eliminate these and other often-heard prejudices and misconceptions about terminology work. The fifth tekom Belgium event in a row was a fast forward all-day event on the benefits of applied terminology work.

The featured speakers were three renowned experts from the field that have been entrusted with terminology work in their companies for many years: Mark Childress (Information Coordinator/Terminology at SAP AG and chairperson of Deutscher Terminologie-Tag), Dr. François Massion (Manager at Dokumentation ohne Grenzen GmbH) and Peter Oehmig (Technical Writer at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG).

To start off, Dr. Birgitta Meex, spokesperson and delegate of tekom Belgium, welcomes the speakers and the audience. She presents in a nutshell the main activities, tasks and goals of the newly established European association Opens internal link in current windowtekom Europe and the role of tekom Belgium therein.

After that, Peter Oehmig takes the floor and opens the the workshop with an introduction into the many “faces” and challenges of descriptive and prescriptive terminology work in authoring and translation. He shares best-practices and tips on how to motivate and convince others to join in and launch into terminology work making use of the existing resources.

Mark Childress then tells the story of terminology management at his company SAP. He remarks that “SAP is running in the background, even if you don’t notice it”. But how does this affect terminology management? He states that up front investments in standardizing terminology help ensuring the quality of communication, documentation, and products in terms of consistency, reusability, and reliability and avoid (variable) costs. He stresses the importance of so-called handoff points, which allow one to create and review knowledge (including terminology) and distribute it to many countries, industry sectors, as well as customers and users, who in the end have to take up and accept the terminology. In this sense, terminology is the unknown goldmine of basic knowledge management.

Dr. François Massion
further elaborates on the connection between terminology and knowledge and focuses on the growing importance of terminology. By means of a terminology extraction exercise, in which the attendees extract terminology from a technical text and create a domain-specific terminology list, the link from theory to practice is established. Dr. François Massion explains the different types and goals of terminology extraction as well as the necessary extraction steps using functions from Word and Excel. He raises methodological issues for extracting and organizing terminology stressing the importance of data categories to create concept-based terminologies. He concludes with addressing questions related to distribution and quality management. In sum, he convincingly demonstrates how one can get involved in “applied” terminology work with just a little effort and resources.

The workshop ends with an interactive hands-on session by Peter Oehmig, in which the attendees are invited to play around with the functions and buttons of the alarm snooze clock XG5105. The (ambitious!) aim was to reach a consensus on appropriate (Dutch) terms and create a "termbase paper".

The speakers kept their promise and provided the attendees with the greatest amount of material that can possibly be absorbed in one day. Their level of professionalism, along with their passion for their jobs and their clear demonstrations of tools, methods and processes inspired the participants and enabled them to take practical ideas and solutions into their place of work. Together with the ample opportunities for discussing and networking, it was truly a day to remember.

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