P LURILINGUAL
TERMINOLOGICAL
COMPETENCES IN SPECIALIZED
DOMAINS : A COMPETITIVE
ADVANTAGE ?
http://cvc.ehb.be
T HEME 2
The contribution that universities in general and the
EUNoM network in particular can make to the
development of the Council of Europe’s and the
European Commission’s language policies,
especially to the EU’s 8th Framework Programme.
S HIFT FROM
STANDARDISATION TO
REALISM
In today’s working environments patterns of linguistic diversity can
be observed.
Evidence proves that on the workfloor in many European regions, a
range of different languages and language variants are
constantly in use, even if there is an agreement on one or more
lingue franche.
Mutual understanding is more important than correctness.
Attitudes on standardised national languages and cultural purity
belong more and more to the past.
As things stand, we know far too little about the impact of
monolingualism - as compared to multilingualism and
plurilingualism - on the dynamics of understanding and
knowledge.
W HAT WE MEAN BY
PLURILINGUALISM

The ability to understand and communicate in at least
one situational setting in several languages (codes) and
in an intercultural reality (functional multilingualism)

e.g. in a hospital setting in Brussels a nurse can explain
how to prepare for a medical intervention in 5 languages
(Spanish, French, Dutch, Arabic, Turkish)

e.g. in a bureaucratic setting in Ljouwert an administrative
assistant can help citizens who know Spanish or Turkish to
fill out forms that exist in 2 languages (Frysk, Dutch)
because he/she knows the terminology that occurs on
these forms in Spanish and Turkish as well
R ESEARCH

Themes like:

Linguistic diversity as a variant of biodiversity

Language planning and language management theory

Society/problem-driven plurilingualism

More interdisciplinary research is needed

Research methodologies


action research

experience based research
Research settings

In corporate-academic partnership
R ESEARCH ON L ANGUAGE
M ANAGEMENT
We need more research on the acquisition of plurilingual competences.
e.g. we need research aimed at facilitating the accelerated learning of
specialised language skills (e.g. multilingual terminology) related to
languages that already form part of a given learner’s repertoire
(CASE 1).
Corporate-academic partnerships are needed to enhance the resolving
of societal problems related to communication problems in
intercultural and multilingual settings (field specialists)
Universities require programmes combining language study and
acquisition with the study of other disciplines and they should
engage in interdisciplinary research undertaken jointly by language
specialists collaborating with e.g. sociologists, political scientists,
medical scientists, economists, educationalists, etc.
e.g. research on the dynamics of terminological variation in European
multilingual communication and on aspects of languages(s) and
creativity from an interdisciplinary perspective is an asset (CASE 2).
N ATIONAL ( POLITICAL ) AND
SITUATIONAL LANGUAGE
PLANNING

Language planning (LP) as a field of theoretical and
applied research began with decolonisation and the
subsequent nationhood of former colonies in the 1950s
and 1960s.

A strong sociolinguistic interest in domains and functions
of use led to the belief that language could be planned
(Ricento 2000), and more and more linguists developed
grammars for the languages of newly autonomous
nations.

Because of its origins, LP discourses and research have
connected to, and were limited by, language-nation
typologies.
O RGANISATIONAL LANGUAGE
PLANNING

Governments used to engage in language
planning mainly for political (power)
purposes

Local (corporate) organisations need to cater
for multilingual communication in order to
be able to provide quality of service

An example: health care in multilingual and
multicultural situations in line with the
mission statement and values of a hospital
C ASE 1 PLURILINGUALISM IN
H EALTH CARE

Language liaisons: Case study on
Children’s Medical Center of Dallas

Chris Allen Thomas & Brett Lee “Language liaisons.
Language planning leadership in health care“Language
Problems & Language Planning 34:2 (2010), 95–119.
L ANGUAGE LIAISONS
PROJECT

communication barriers due to linguistic
and cultural divergence limit the effective
delivery of quality medical care

linguistic barriers cause ineffective
transmission of medical information

This can lead to poor-quality health care
and may even result in significant risk to
the wellbeing of patients:
EXCLUSION
MISSION STATEMENT
AND VALUES

the right of all patients to receive equal
access to medical care, regardless of their
language proficiency
CONSEQUENCE:

A need for organisational language policy
in a health care network
P ROBLEM - DRIVEN INTERDISCIPLINARY
RESEARCH AND ACTION RESEARCH

Thomas & Lee (2010) reports on the effectiveness of a language
liaison program implemented by Children’s

A language policy inclusive of its Spanish-speaking patients and
their families in the SW of the USA

English proved to be insufficient to adequately complete patient
medical histories or explain treatment procedures.

Children’s hospital engaged in language planning to develop its
employees and serve its patients

Data for this case study came from a variety of sources:

stakeholder interviews

focus group interviews with the parents of hospital patients (children)

internal corporate documents

quality control surveys focusing on communication effectiveness.
L ANGUAGE M ANAGEMENT
T HEORY (LMT)

Competitive organizations ensure their survival
through:

quality control measures

human capital development

the elimination of barriers to the usefulness of the goods
and services they provide.

Research into the effects of language policies is also
relevant to the field of human resources, not only to
linguistics or sociolinguistics.

There is a need for Language Management Theory
(LMT) (as opposed to Language Planning)
T HREE
POSSIBILITIES FOR OVERCOMING
COMMUNICATION PROBLEMS IN HOSPITALS
1.
Medical interpreters
(community interpreting)
2.
Implication of bilingual staff
3.
The language liaison project
P OSSIBILITY 1: M EDICAL
INTERPRETING

Some health care institutions are addressing the
need for intercultural communicators and
interpreters.

They are committed to:

providing the highest quality of care

their interpreters provide accurate and complete
interpretation services

they deliver culturally competent care and facilitate
access to hospital services for non-English- or limitedEnglish-proficient patients
P OSSIBILITY 2: TO RELY ON BILINGUAL STAFF

With wait times for qualified interpreters at an
unacceptable level, care centres rely on bilingual staff
members to provide ad-hoc interpreting.

This practice introduced medical and legal risk to the
organisation, since speaking Spanish in the home does not
adequately prepare an employee to provide complex
medical interpreting.

Studies have shown that bilingual staff members providing
interpreting without adequate training and certification
make significantly more errors than professional
interpreters, and the errors made may have clinical
consequences
P OSSIBILITY 3: L ANGUAGE LIAISON PROGRAMME
All bilingual staff at Children’s hospital in
Dallas were given the opportunity to sit
for the interpreter qualification
examination to determine their ability
to safely provide medical interpreting
when a staff interpreter was not
available
A SMAL SET OF MEDICAL
TERMINOLOGY

Each clinic routinely treated a relatively narrow scope
of diagnoses (compared to the inpatient hospital), so
bilingual employees could master a smaller set of
medical terminology and still provide safe
interpreting.
L OCAL AND NATIONAL
POLITICAL SUPPORT

In Texas, bill HB 233 passed into law in
2009, creating an advisory panel to
develop training and certification
standards for individuals providing
medical interpreting within the state.

The International Medical Interpreters
Association (IMIA) is leading an effort to
create a national certification program
for medical interpreters.
C URRICULUM
The areas of focused instruction in this
programme were defined as follows:

medical terminology, culture and medicine,
legal and ethical issues related to
interpreting,

anatomy and physiology, diseases and
conditions, tests and treatments,

and the use of formal (rather than idiomatic)
Spanish
C OMPETENCIES
REQUIRED
Upon completion of the course, trainees are expected to
be able to demonstrate:

appropriate interpreting techniques

understand the United States code of medical
ethics

utilize medical terminology appropriately

demonstrate basic knowledge of anatomy and
physiology.

demonstrate understanding of ethical
responsibility
R ESEARCH IN CORPORATE BASED LEARNING
Examples like the one just discussed
should be the focus of future
research in corporate-based
learning
The targeted skill in the example
was the ability to facilitate doctorpatient communication through
the development of English and
Spanish for medical interpreting
C ASE 2 R ESEARCH
ON :
T HE
DYNAMICS OF
TERMINOLOGICAL VARIATION IN
E UROPEAN
MULTILINGUAL COMMUNICATION

societal dynamics in the
European multilingual reality:
e.g. what happens to
metaphorical and evocative
language in translated texts on
invasion ecology?

Parameters explaining terminological variation can be retrieved
from textual archives of a discipline.

We have been reading and analysing a number of publications in
the discipline of invasion ecology in order to:

try and understanding the parameters that make specialists prone
to linguistic variation

search parameters in the creation process (in English) of
neologisms in scientific debates, controversies and negotiations in .

get insight in the creative potential of language as a cognitive and
rhetorical tool

Our objective was to try and find the
parameters that lead to variation in
terminology and dynamics of ideas as
they are explicitly mentioned by field
specialists giving surveyed information
on the development of their discipline.
R EFLECTIVE TEXT
FRAGMENTS

Zooming in on terminological discussions between
field specialists, we discovered how specialists point
out the weaknesses of the terminology used in their
field and go into debate on the pros and cons of
using particular terms. In doing so, they
unintentionally reveal a number of parameters that
account for dynamics and variation.

We found “background impact factors” that set the
scene for the development of terminology in invasive
ecology and the importance of terminological
discussions in a scientific debate culture on the same
subject .
PARAMETERS THAT ACCOUNT
FOR DYNAMICS AND
VARIATION .

Metaphorical language

evocative language,

Awareness of connotations of words,

Provocative language in order to capture
the attention of the world at large and
most specifically of policy makers.
T ERMINOLOGICAL
DISCUSSIONS IN A SCIENTIFIC
DEBATE CULTURE

Research is often conducted within a larger social
milieu of contentious environmental values and
politics. Consequently discussions take place in
an emotionally charged and intellectually
dynamic environment where controversy and
disagreements thrive.
I NVASIVE SPECIES TERMINOLOGY
IN TRANSLATED E UROPEAN
TEXTS

If in the European Union, Euro-English has become the
lingua franca and if Europeans continue to have the
right to information in all official European languages the
issue of approximate meaning will have to be tackled
all the time.

We studied some examples (inspired by an ongoing
project on variation (Kerremans et al. 2008 & 2010)) on
how European texts on invasive species get translated
from English into French and Dutch.

The examples we give here are from a European
Council document (2008). We have confirmation that
the English text was the source text and the French
and Dutch versions are translations.

In this text invasive species is defined. The
terminology used in the definition is elaborated on in
the text giving rise to terminological variation. This is
the case in the English source text and even more so
in the translations.

Research on anisomorphism between languages and
secondary term formation in translation as related to
European discourse is interesting.
A NISOMORPHISM AND
APPROXIMATE MEANING

The reasons why translations are hardly ever a word for
word transfer from a source language to a target language
have been dealt with extensively in the literature on
translation theory.

Basically, translation shifts like e.g. modulation and
transposition, are often the result of the inherent lexical
and structural limitations of each language.

Moreover each language carries historical and cultural
elements that allow its users to express messages in
particular ways (e.g. figurative language based on
metaphorical understanding, allusions to culture-specific
elements).
E XAMPLE 1: VARIATION OF INVASIVE SPECIES IN E NGLISH ,
F RENCH AND D UTCH IN [SEC(2008) 2887 ET SEC(2008)
2886]
English
French
Dutch
Invasive Species or IS
espèces envahissantes, ou EE
INVASIEVE SOORTEN (IS)
non-native species
espèces non indigènes
uitheemse soorten
it was recognized that "a
comprehensive EU strategy
should be developed" to
substantially reduce the impact
on EU Biodiversity of invasive
alien species
qui reconnaissaient la nécessité
d’«élaborer une stratégie
globale au niveau de l'UE» afin
de réduire sensiblement l'impact
des espèces allogènes
envahissantes sur la diversité
biologique de l'Union
européenne.
actieplan, waarin wordt erkend
dat “een alomvattende EUstrategie” moet worden
uitgewerkt om te zorgen voor
“een aanzienlijke vermindering
van de impact van invasieve
uitheemse soorten op de
biodiversiteit binnen de EU”.
E XAMPLE 2: H ITCHHIKER
Prevention:
There are six principal pathways for
IS:
ORGANISMS AND SECONDARY
TERMPreventie:
FORMATION
Prévention:
On dénombre six grandes voies
d'introduction des EE:
release,
lâcher,
De introductie van IS kan in
hoofdzaak via zes mechanismen
plaatsvinden:
door opzettelijk uitzetten,
escape,
fuite,
door ontsnapping,
contaminant,
contamination,
als contaminant,
hitchhiker,
passage clandestin,
als verstekeling,
corridor
couloir
via een corridor
and
ou
en
unaided
introduction spontanée
door toeval ("op eigen kracht")
Prevention in relation to hitchhiker
organisms brought in on the hulls or in
the ballast water of ships would hugely
benefit from the ratification and
implementation of the Ballast Water
Convention.
La ratification et la mise en œuvre de la
convention sur les eaux de ballast
seraient essentielles à la prévention en
ce qui concerne les organismes qui
voyagent clandestinement sur les
coques des navires ou dans les eaux de
ballast de ceux-ci.
Preventie van
de introductie van door zeeschepen
meegebrachte "verstekelingen" zal een
stuk makkelijker worden zodra het
internationaal ballastwaterverdrag
wordt geratificeerd en in de praktijk
gebracht.
E XAMPLE 3: F REE MODULATION
AND EXPLICITATION
The main identified costs
in Europe comprise
eradication and control
costs and damage to
agriculture, forestry,
commercial fisheries,
infrastructure and human
health.
Les principaux coûts
recensés en Europe sont
liés à l'éradication et à la
lutte contre les EE, ainsi
qu'aux dommages causés
dans l'agriculture, la
sylviculture et la pêche
commerciale, dans les
infrastructures et en
matière de santé humaine.
De belangrijkste
gesignaleerde
kostenposten in Europa
zijn
bestrijdingsmaatregelen
(uitroeiing of regulering
van IS) en schade aan
landbouw, bosbouw,
commerciële visserij,
infrastructuur en de
menselijke gezondheid.
IN DUTCH: The translator decided to add
a hyperonym of uitroeiing of regulering
van IS: bestrijdingsmaatregelen. This is
an example of optional modulation and
explicitation.

The three examples illustrate that the translated texts, like
the Euro-English originals show variability and have
characteristics of the dynamics and plasticity of all living
languages.

They also show that readers of the texts in translation find
the same information, but not quite, as there is
asymmetry between languages.

At the same time these examples of interlinguistic
anisomorphisms show that communication involving
several languages is not likely to cause huge problems.
A E UROPEAN FIELD OF
STUDY

In today’s transcultural and multilingual European Union,
we have a laboratory of diversity, interand transcultural variation and
dynamics in a plurilingual environment.

A lot of European discourse in several languages is
available on the internet.

Researchers engaging in contrastive linguistics, translation
studies and terminology studies have access to materials
for studying variation and secondary term formation in all
European languages as related to primary term formation
in English.


We suggest that given the fact that Euro-English has become
the main lingua franca in the European Union, the study of
variation, dynamics and standardisation of European
terminology will have to distinguish between two tracks.

On the first track the negotiations on European terminology in
policy-making processes, mostly happening in Euro-English at an
encompassing-European level, needs observation and analysis.

On the second track, the translation of European texts into all
official European languages involving finding ways to express the
European content in all languages needs detailed analysis.
There are many immanent research questions on both tracks
for researchers in terminology wanting to bring about a better
understanding of terminological diversity, variation and
standardization in the Euro-English area and on secondary
term formation in all European languages.
D IVERSITY MUST SERVE A
PURPOSE

For Evans & Levinson (2009) language diversity is a crucial fact for
understanding the place of language in human cognition. In their opinion
the belief in language universals i.e. “the impression that languages are all
built to a common pattern” (429) is a fallacy.

They point out how diversity can be found at almost every level of linguistic
organization and how this fact changes the object of inquiry altogether
from looking for universals to studying the diversity offered to us by the
world’s languages (estimated to number between 6000 and 8000).

They remind us that each language has built-in cultural-historical factors
and implies opportunities and constraints for human cognition.

From this perspective, exciting new research directions become apparent
pertaining to the power of and the reasons for diversity, variation and
dynamics in languages.

Their position also calls for a redefinition of the phenomenon of
standardization in language. The European Union offers many possibilities
for interesting research and case studies given that there are 23 different
official languages and that Europe is now confronted with the extraordinary
plasticity of plurilingual and intercultural communication.
P LURILINGUALISM AND
MULTILINGUALISM : A COMPETITIVE
ADVANTAGE IN RESEARCH
We presented some ideas on how plurilingualism
and cultural diversity in the educational
setting can lead to competitive advantages for
Europeans in higher education

Case 1: plurilingual language liaison
competences

Case 2: European content in all languages

Thank you!

Merci!

Dank u wel!

Gracias!

Tankje!

Tapadh leibh! (Scottish)

Go raibh maith agaibh! (Irish)
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Plurilinguistic terminological competences in specialized