Flag_of_EuropeThe European Parliament has a hard enough time keeping track of documents in 24 official languages. If language was static, that would be one thing, but it changes every day. Add in on top the evolving world of diplomatic protocols, agency-speak, technical and legal terms, plus a flood of ever-increasing acronyms and never-ending neologisms, and you see it’s an even more complex problem.

From this challenge arose the EU’s Terminology Coordination unit. Their solution was to bring together and harmonize all the lingo, and make it accessible through such tools as InterActive Terminology for Europe (IATE), and the public interface, Public IATE.

Want to know how to say “Improvised Explosive Device” properly in Hungarian? You can use the public IATE tool to discover acceptable, deprecated, and preferable ways to translate it, both in full (“rögtönzött robbanószerkezet”) and in abbreviation (“IED” is abbreviated as “IED“).

They also maintain document-based sources such as a series of glossaries produced by EU institutions and bodies.

While these activities are primarily for use by the European Parliament, these works of linguists can benefit business, media, and academics who want to share a common grammar. Even their processes, such as how they manage terminology, can be seen as guiding process and design patterns for others engaged in similar activity.

managing terminologyPart of the systems and processes set up at the European Parliament to manage terminology.

Unlike many political bodies that can be, at times, quite distant from the public, the Terminology Coordination activity is welcoming of participation, even including a Facebook page. For instance, when they heard of petaloso, which we at e2f also covered in an earlier post, they wrote a blog entitled, Please, do come in! When can a neologism enter a vocabulary? Italian and the case of “petaloso”.

How about your organization? How do you manage your own internal terminology? How much do you welcome change into your global grammar? What sorts of systems or processes do you have in place to manage emerging, current, and obsolescent language? How do you manage it in a multilingual environment? Even if not on the scale of the European Parliament, do you have a project coming up that may require similar types of activity?

If you have any insights to share, or any questions to ask, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].