Latvijas Nacionālais terminoloģijas portāls

Terminology work in Estonia

«Terminoloģijas Jaunumi» 21.10.2003.


Senior Terminologist of the Estonian Legal Language Centre

Igauņu juridiskās valodas centra vecākā terminoloģe


With only one million speakers of their language, Estonians have faced difficulties in fighting for their language just as our other two Baltic neighbours have.

Small number of speakers might make it possible to establish strict rules of language development and planning but nevertheless it seems that majority of Estonian linguists are of the opinion that language is an open system that keeps changing all the time and too much regulation might only do harm. Maybe that’s why also terminology planning is a self-regulating process in Estonia and no such body exists whose decision about an Estonian term could in any way become binding to the user.

Despite that the state has to provide conditions for the language to survive and flourish. A seven year plan has been elaborated which is called the


Strategy for the Development of the Estonian Language 2004–2010

This strategy prioritises the main goals for the development of the only official language of the Republic of Estonia. The aim is to protect the Estonian language and to guarantee its sustainable development and create necessary conditions for its functioning in all walks of life on the whole territory of Estonia.

The strategy defines the objectives and necessary action to achieve the goals. It also lists the institutions responsible for the fulfilment of the tasks. The co-ordinating organisation for the strategy is the Ministry of Education and Science; monitoring and analysis is done by the Estonian Language Council.

One part of the strategy outlines the activities for terminology planning on state level.

It states that subject field specialists show interest and readiness to develop the terminology of their specific field.

Estonian Terminology Association co-ordinates the activities. Terminology commissions in some fields are quite active but the decisions on terms are not binding for users (nothing to be compared to the Latvian official system of terminology commissions).

The aims of terminology planning are:

  • to develop the terminology of all scientific and technical fields,
  • to promote the creation of new terminology in educational and scientific research establishments,
  • to disseminate and exchange information about terminology,
  • to compile and publish terminological dictionaries both on paper and on-line,
  • to promote constructive criticism of terminological dictionaries; also on how to make good use of them,
  • to pay special attention to legal language,
  • to participate in international terminology co-operation,
  • to guarantee the Estonian language the same rights and scope for usage and developmental potential as the other European official languages have.

Executing institutions:

  • Estonian Language Institute Language Planning Unit,
  • terminology commissions of different subject fields,
  • Estonian Terminology Association — ETER,
  • Estonian Legal Language Centre — ELLC,
  • universities and higher educational establishments,
  • Ministry of Education and Science,
  • the Estonian language departments of the University of Tartu and Tallinn Pedagogical University.

Estonian Terminology Association ETER

ETER was founded in 2001 as a non-profit organisation and thus it is not financed by the state (only membership fees). ETER is a member of the European Association for Terminology (EAFT).The Head of the Board is Mr. Arvi Tavast who also is the member of the EAFT board and member of the special interest group on terminology training of the EAFT.

ETER joins people interested in terminology work — translators, terminologists, subject field specialists interested in language. ETER homepage contains a valuable database of subject field specialist developers of terminology and gives an overview about what has been done in those fields terminology-wise. One can also find another database which lists all terminological dictionaries published in Estonia (paper or on-line) which contain terminology in Estonian. This is the best place to look if you need information about terminology and the people who develop it.

ETER has so far organised one major terminology event per year:

2001 — Terminology Summer School

2002 — Terminology Conference: Theory and Practice

2003 — International Terminology Conference

The tasks set for ETER in the Strategy for the Development of the Estonian Language include:

  • development of terminology and compilation of terminological dictionaries,
  • dissemination of terminological information,
  • provision of training in terminology,
  • criticism of terminological dictionaries,
  • planning of terminology work (co-ordination),
  • participation in international terminology co-operation.


Estonian Language Institute (ELI)

ELI has been responsible for terminology planning for years, throughout the Soviet time. ELI language specialists participate in compiling terminological dictionaries together with subject field specialists and this work is mainly project-based.

The tasks set for ELI in the Strategy for the Development of the Estonian Language include:

  • provision of training in terminology planning,
  • development of terminology theory,
  • compilation of terminology planning handbooks,
  • creation of terminological dictionaries,
  • creation of language technology tools.



  • Tallinn Technical University (TTU)
  • University of Tartu (TU)
  • Tallinn Pedagogical University (TPU)

All these universities contribute to the development of terminology but only two of them — TU and TPU — provide terminology education.

For decades the University of Tartu has provided a 40-hour course «Terminology Management» for Estonian philologists, which teaches the history of Estonian terminology and the main principles of term creation. No world terminology theory is taught in the framework of this course.

Starting from 2002 both TU and TPU also provide an 80-hour obligatory course «Terminology Management» for translation MA students. The lecturer is Mr Arvi Tavast.

A short description of the course:

The aim:

Get a basic understanding of the subject of terminology, develop skills to use terminology sources critically and gain practical experience in termbase design.


Languages for general and specific purposes. Systematic and ad hoc terminology work. Normative and descriptive terminology work. Term selection and creation principles in Estonian, comparison with influential foreign languages. Critical analysis of terminology sources: dictionaries (traditional and electronic), corpora, subject specialists. Working with subject specialists. Types of software available for maintaining termbases, their selection and use. Theories, schools and classical authors in terminology.


The course contains writing a critical analysis of one specialised dictionary and doing two exercises in terminology work: systematic (small volume, enough time, thorough discussion) and ad hoc (large volume, complex text, lack of time and information). Termbases are created in practical classes using Trados Multiterm and programs of the student’s choice. In seminars, terminology theory is discussed critically and compared to practical experience.


The graded assessment is based on a written test containing both theoretical questions and practical exercises. In order to qualify for the final assessment it is necessary to have completed the dictionary analysis and attended the seminars.

Obligatory literature:

  • Cabré, Maria Teresa. Terminology: Theory, methods and applications. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins 1999.
  • Erelt, Tiiu. Estonian Terminology. Tallinn: Valgus 1982.
  • Tavast, Arvi. Estonian Terminological Dictionaries 1996-2000. — Keel ja Kirjandus 2002, nr 6, 7.

Optional literature:

  • Cabré, Maria Teresa. La terminologie: théorie, méthode et applications. Ottawa, Paris: Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa, Armand Colin 1998.
  • Cabré, Maria Teresa. La terminologia: Representación y comunicación, Barcelona: Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 1999.
  • Handbook of Terminology Management. Compiled by Sue Ellen Wright, Gerhard Budin. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1997.
  • Sager, Juan C. A Practical Course in Terminology Processing. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins 1990.
  • Temmerman, Rita. Towards new ways of terminology description: the sociocognitive approach. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2000.
  • Wüster, Eugen. Einführung in die allgemeine Terminologielehre und terminologische Lexikographie. Kopenhagen Fachsprachliches Zentrum, 1985.

It should also be mentioned that ISO standards for terminology work were translated into Estonian in 2002 (ISO 1087 1 & 2:2000).


Estonian Legal Language Centre (ELLC; under the Ministry of Justice)

ELLC was founded in 1995 by the initiative of Estonian expatriates in Canada in order to set up an institution that would be able to produce quality translation of Estonian legal acts into English. Soon it took up translation of the EU acquis into Estonian. Latvian Translation and Terminology Centre was set up following the Estonian model.

ELLC has invested into terminology work from the very first days of its existence. The terminology unit deals with ad hoc terminology work, manages its own concept based database ESTERM of 50 000 terms, has about 800 subject field specialists as experts and may be considered the flagship of terminography work in Estonia. Besides the maintenance of ESTERM the terminology unit manages several terminology projects (e.g. NATO and Military terms, EUROVOC) and has published several smaller online databases.

When the task of translating the acquis into Estonian will be finished with Estonia becoming the member of the EU in May 2004, the centre, besides retaining some translation tasks, swifts to revising Estonian draft legislation and doing systematic terminology work in the field of legal language. The terminology unit starts with a new legal terminology database and goes on providing terminological help and training in legal language terminology and also in terminography to all state agencies. If necessary, terminological dictionaries are published. The task of participating in terminology projects together with other state agencies will still be there.

Estonia has good contacts with INFOTERM and IITF. These days ETER is also thinking about becoming a member of NORDTERM.

Estonia would gladly welcome both Latvia and Lithuania as EAFT members.

International terminology co-operation may be promoted by participating in the following events:

  • 2nd International Terminology Conference CIT 2003: Terminology: the State of the Theories. Lisbon, 11-13 December 2003
  • Terminology Summit. Barcelona, 26-27 November 2004
  • Terminology Conference. Berlin, June-July 2005

Suggestions for co-operation

The best form of co-operation could be regular exchange of information.

As in the EU institutions terminology work and management is not going to continue the way it was organised for the last decade (terminology positions liquidated, no terminologists working for the IATE databank) much thought should be given to how to support Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian translators in Brussels and Luxembourg in respect of terminology as the translated documents they produce become part of the law of the respective states.


Terminoloģijas darbs Igaunijā


Igaunijā valda uzskats, ka valoda ir atvērta sistēma, kas nepārtraukti pakļauta pārmaiņām. Tāpēc Igaunijā nav institūcijas, kuras lēmumi būtu saistoši lietotājiem.

Tomēr Valdība atzīst, ka ir jārada apstākļi sekmīgai valodas attīstībai, tāpēc ir izstrādāta igauņu valodas attīstības stratēģija 2004. — 2010. gadam. Galvenie uzdevumi izvirzīti oficiālajam valodas lietojumam. Mērķis — aizsargāt igauņu valodu un nodrošināt tās lietošanu visās jomās visā Igaunijas teritorijā. Galvenā koordinējošā institūcija ir Izglītības un zinātnes ministrija, pārraudzības un analīzes institūcija — Igauņu valodas padome.

Šajā stratēģijā viena daļa — darbība, kas saistīta ar terminoloģijas plānošanu valsts līmenī.

Nozaru speciālisti ir gatavi izstrādāt savas nozares terminoloģiju. Šīs aktivitātes koordinē Igaunijas Terminoloģijas asociācija. Aktīvi darbojas dažu nozaru terminoloģijas komisijas, bet to lēmumi nav saistoši.

Terminoloģijas plānošana ietver: visu nozaru terminoloģijas attīstību, jaunās terminoloģijas izstrādi izglītības un zinātnes iestādēs, terminoloģiskās informācijas izplatīšanu, terminu vārdnīcu gatavošanu un publicēšanu (papīrformātā un internetā), vārdnīcu konstruktīvu kritiku, līdzdalību starptautiskajā terminoloģijas darbībā, igauņu valodas lietojuma tiesību nodrošināšanu ES dalībvalstu valodu kontekstā.

Šajā darbā iesaistītas gan valsts institūcijas, gan augstskolas, gan nozaru komisijas u. c.

Viena no institūcijām — Igaunijas Terminoloģijas asociācija ETER, kas dibināta 2001. gadā. To vada Arvi Tavasts, kas ir arī starptautiskās apvienības EAFT loceklis.

ETER apvieno cilvēkus, kuriem ir interese par terminoloģijas jautājumiem — tulkotājus, terminologus, speciālistus u. c., ETER uztur terminu datu bāzi un reizi gadā rīko nozīmīgu terminoloģisku pasākumu — vasaras skolu, konferenci vai tml. Igauņu valodas attīstības stratēģijā ETER paredzētie uzdevumu ir: terminoloģijas apkopošana un attīstība, informācijas izplatīšana, izglītošana, terminu vārdnīcu kritiska izvērtēšana, terminoloģijas darba plānošana un koordinēšana, līdzdalība starptautiskajā darbībā.

Ilgus gadus terminoloģijas darbā piedalās Igauņu valodas institūta valodnieki, kopā ar nozaru speciālistiem gatavojot terminu vārdnīcas, mācībgrāmatas, veicot teorētiskus pētījumus terminoloģijas jomā u. c.

Terminoloģijas izglītība notiek tikai divās universitātēs — Tartu Universitātē (40 stundu kursa nosaukums «Terminoloģijas pārvaldība») un Tallinas Pedagoģijas universitātē. Kopš 2002. gada abās universitātēs ieviests arī 80 stundu oficiālais kurss tulkošanā.

Tieslietu ministrijas pārziņā darbojas Igauņu juridiskās valodas centrs, kas pēc Kanādas igauņu ekspatriantu iniciatīvas dibināts 1995. gadā, lai kvalitatīvi pārtulkotu Igaunijas tiesību aktus angļu valodā. Patlaban tas nodarbojas arī ar ES normatīvo aktu tulkošanu igauņu valodā. Šim centram ir aktīva sadarbība ar Tulkošanas un terminoloģijas centru Latvijā.

Par labāko Baltijas valstu sadarbības formu atzīstama regulāra informācijas apmaiņa. Jādomā par to, kā sekmēt terminoloģisko prasmi Igaunijas, Latvijas un Lietuvas tulkotājiem Briselē un Luksemburgā, apzinoties, ka tur veiktie dokumentu tulkojumi kļūs par tiesību aktu daļu mūsu valstīs.


  Referāts nolasīts starptautiskajā terminoloģijas seminārā «Terminoloģijas darbs Latvijā, Lietuvā un Igaunijā: sadarbības ieceres ES dalībvalstu kontekstā» Rīgā, 2003. gada 21. oktobrī

Veidosim 21. gadsimta latviešu valodu visi kopā.

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