EU Terminology Resources – ITI bulletin March–April 2010

The DGT’s terminology database IATE is open to all and an excellent free resource for translators

Tucked away down a side street between Westminster Abbey and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, where ITI held its 2009 Conference last May, are the offices of the European Commission’s Representation in the UK. Here, in early December, the Commission hosted another large gathering of translators to look at the terminology resources and reference material it provides for external users. The previous session last summer had been a sell-out, and since there was clearly a substantial demand for this event, ITI had persuaded the Commission to repeat it.

The first part of the afternoon involved a conceptual look at the subject of terminology and its importance for translators, presented by Margaret Rogers of the University of Surrey. Terminology is a separate discipline from translation (perhaps it is a more scientific and less subjective field?), and the relationship between translators who want to ‘get on with other things’ and terminologists, for whom this work is an end in itself and part of an ongoing research programme, is sometimes an uneasy one, as Margaret wryly pointed out. The second part was a more concrete presentation of EU terminology and language resources, given by Tim Cooper, a senior terminologist working for the Commission.

For a detailed summary of what we learned, I can do no better than refer readers to the comprehensive article on the previous session, written by Karen Stokes and published in the September 2009 issue of ITI Bulletin, which is full of useful information.

Like Karen, I felt that this session was extremely useful – perhaps every would-be or practising translator should attend it? The IATE database is a vast terminology resource and the first port of call for many translators, myself included, and therefore some training in how to use it effectively is highly desirable.

The only disappointment was that we ran out of time at the end of the day, and the presentation on the EUR-Lex online database of EU law had to be somewhat curtailed. My impression is that there is enough material here (particularly if the group terminology analysis exercise is included) to fill a whole day. I would actually be happy to attend this course again and, if necessary, to pay more than the current fee of £25 for half a day, if cost is a significant factor for the Commission in deciding whether to run it.

I would also like to thank the Commission’s Fiona Harris and her staff for organising it, Margaret and Tim for delivering it, and Pamela Mayorcas for arranging it.