Photo by: Andrzej Szozda

A few words about

Terminology Science

The development of specialist vocabulary in Esperanto is a challenge as old as the language itself. However, all languages encounter this challenge and, in an increasingly globalised world, the standardisation of lexical development has become as essential as the standardisation of the shapes of screws and the wavelengths of satellite broadcasts. The German Esperantist and linguist Eugen Wüster played a leading role in the establishment of this field of research, known as terminology science. Nevertheless, such a systematic approach remained little known in the Esperanto movement until 1987. The Terminological Esperanto Centre (TEC) was founded in that year, aiming to unify the usage of specialist terms in Esperanto, to advise on their development, and to support the compilation of technical dictionaries. Due to the activity of TEC, the Universal Esperanto Association (UEA) established official relations with the committee on language and terminology (TC 37) of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and with the International Information Center for Terminology (Infoterm). Since 2020, following several years of inactivity on the part of TEC, CED added this field to its agenda, with the goal of encouraging, supporting and building connections between projects for the systematic development and standardisation of specialized terminology in Esperanto.

Eugen Wüster
Eugen Wüster, founder of terminology science​

History of TEC

TEC was active for around twenty years. During that period, by means of popular articles, expert studies, and public appeals, TEC succeeded in sparking the interest of Esperanto-speaking professionals and scientists and deepening their understanding of the need for terminological work in a language which, despite its planned origins, as late as 1987 still lacked a systematic approach to the standardisation of specialist terms. TEC’s terminological work followed the principles worked out by Eugen Wüster – the founder of terminology science and an Esperanto lexicographer and scholar – for application to all languages and disciplines. With TEC’s support, Eperanto-speaking professionals in various fields came together to work on producing specialized dictionaries in their areas of expertise. Among these were dictionaries of terms in railway engineering, medicine, physics, geography and insurance. Another interesting example in this regard is the technical forestry dictionary. Foresters took the initiative to organize themselves within the framework of TEC and went on to build a global team of over a hundred people, with a valuable outcome: a comprehensive and multilingual forestry dictionary that follows modern terminological principles and uses Esperanto as its common reference language.

Beginning 1988, TEC developed a good relationship with Infoterm – the International Information Center on Terminology in Vienna, founded by Eugen Wüster. Additionally, in 1989, UEA became an official member of TermNet, the collaborative network of terminological institutions around Infoterm. This enabled TEC not only to receive teaching materials and contribute to TN-News (TermNet’s bulletin), but also to send a representative to the TermNet Summer School every year. UEA made use of this opportunity on several occasions in order to build capacity in this field within the Esperanto movement. Through UEA’s relationship with ISO/TC37 – the language and terminology committee of the ISO – TEC was invited to meetings and received copies of the minutes. TEC took it as its mission to follow the development and constant revision of the principles and norms of terminology science, and to convey its core concepts to a wider Esperanto-speaking public. One of the most important results of this activity was the brochure Terminological Guide, which TEC made available in Esperanto to experts working on technical dictionaries. A by-product of TEC’s outreach work has been the growing understanding of the role played by Esperanto scholars such as Eugen Wüster and Ernest Drezen in the establishment of terminology science. This understanding has helped bring about a more positive assessment of the Esperanto phenomenon in general and, in particular, of Esperanto’s significance for terminological work.

An entry point to basic principles of terminological work

Terminological Guide

Author: Heidi Suonuuti

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