Terminology & Discourse/Terminologie et discours

by Jana Altmanova (Volume editor) Maria Centrella (Volume editor) Katherine E. Russo (Volume editor)
©2018 Edited Collection 444 Pages
Series: Linguistic Insights, Volume 241


The volume fills a gap in the lively international debate on terminology and discourse by uncovering the new possibilities offered by analysing terms in authentic language environments. The terminology and discourse nexus is central to all the contributions in the volume, which focus on recent linguistic approaches and fields, such as term variation and the synchronic/diachronic formation of terms, popularization, genre chains and networks, textual terminology, extraction of terms in large and small corpora, management and knowledge of «dynamic» and «flexible» data.
Ce volume se propose d’apporter une contribution au débat sur les liens entre terminologie et discours, en s’appuyant sur de nouvelles modalités d'analyse de termes dans des milieux linguistiques authentiques. La terminologie et l’analyse de discours sont ainsi au cœur de toutes les contributions de ce volume, qui adoptent des approches méthodologiques récentes dans des domaines comme la variation des termes et de leur formation en synchronie et en diachronie, la vulgarisation, la terminologie textuelle, l’extraction des termes dans les grands et petits corpus ainsi que de la gestion et la connaissance de données « dynamiques » et « flexibles ».

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents/Table des matières
  • Introduction (Jana Altmanova / Maria Centrella / Katherine E. Russo)
  • Introduction (Jana Altmanova / Maria Centrella / Katherine E. Russo)
  • Terminology, Terminography and Discourse: Methodological and Epistemological Reflections/ Terminologie, terminographie et discours : réflexions méthodologiques et épistémologiques
  • Terminologie et lexicographie : confrontation ou coopération ? (María Teresa Cabré)
  • Towards a Typology of Terminological Variation: A Modest Proposal for Specialised Translation (Margaret Rogers)
  • La terminographie entre langue et discours : réflexions historiques et épistémologiques (John Humbley)
  • Nouvelles perspectives pour la terminologie textuelle (Anne Condamines)
  • Terminology and Translation/ Terminologie et traduction
  • Aspects of Intra- and Interlingual Term Variation in Specialized Language Units (Paola Faini)
  • Terminologie et traduction : le dispositif d’enrichissement de la langue française ou l’art du consensus (Pierrette Crouzet-Daurat / Gabrielle Le Tallec-Lloret)
  • ‘Naming Things’ and ‘Changes in Meaning’ on the EU Politico-Legal Landscape: Term Creation as an Inherent Feature of the European Project (David Albert Best / Domenico Cosmai)
  • Les métaphores terminologiques dans les sciences et leur traduction dans les textes et discours, entre invention et vulgarisation (Micaela Rossi)
  • EU Criminal Justice and Italian Law: Investigating Terminological Gaps (Giulia Adriana Pennisi)
  • Terminology, Change and Evolution/ Terminologie, changement et évolution
  • De « nomenclature » à « terminologie » : un parcours diachronique (XVIIe–XVIIIe siècles) entre France et Italie (Maria Teresa Zanola)
  • Évolution terminologique dans le discours de la science au début du XVIIIe siècle (Claudio Grimaldi)
  • The “giogrofia del core” in Leonardo da Vinci’s Anatomical Writings (Rosa Piro)
  • Terminology and Variation in Specialized Contexts/ Terminologie et variation dans les contextes spécialisés
  • La nutrition à toutes les sauces : les termes de l’alimentation entre discours scientifique et discours culinaire (Paolo Frassi / Marianna Lisi)
  • Les sources documentaires du vêtement d’extérieur au fil des siècles (Maria Francesca Bonadonna)
  • Le travail de l’argent métal au XIXe siècle : entre termes et marqueurs en contexte définitoire (Silvia Domenica Zollo)
  • Terminology in the Media/ Terminologie dans les médias
  • The Greek Crisis: Reformulation Strategies in the Spanish National Press (Francesca De Cesare)
  • ‘Rewriting’ Science: the Popularization of Terminology in TED talks (Stefania D’Avanzo)
  • Climate-induced Migration: The Evaluation of Terms in a European Commission Institutional Genre Network (Katherine E. Russo)
  • Variation terminologique dans le discours narratif des blogs scientifiques (Jana Altmanova)
  • Conclusion (Jana Altmanova / Maria Centrella / Katherine E. Russo)
  • Conclusion (Jana Altmanova / Maria Centrella / Katherine E. Russo)
  • Notes on Contributors/Notes sur les contributeurs
  • Series index

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The volume collects the work of international scholars, which was presented during the Conference Terminology & Discourse and took place at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” on the 10 and 11 November 2015 to discuss and reflect on the terminology and discourse nexus. The latter has become extremely relevant since it has recently gained great interest in the linguistics field (Cabré 1992). Indeed, a term may be defined as a lexical-semantic unit used in a specialized field of knowledge and widely recognized by experts in the field. Yet such a definition does not exclude variation and instability since, although the need for specialized communication leads to the normalization of terms, they are subject to different forms of legitimation and change (Humbley 1996). Hence, the notion of variation is central to several linguistic approaches to terminology, which take into account the social and cognitive dimension and more recently the historical dimension, whence the interest of this book. As Maurizio Gotti argued in his distinction between “restricted codes”, “special languages” and “specialized discourse”, specialized discourse “exploits the language code in a much more creative and varied way” (2008: 23). New terms are born every day and existing terms change according to their different functions and contexts. For pragmatic reasons, the terminology of a discipline or field is a fairly stable system, but its use in discourse reveals a high degree of variation which is due to many factors (Desmet 2005) and which may be detected thanks to the new developments in computational linguistics. The volume therefore addresses recent theoretical, methodological and analytical changes in the analysis of terms in authentic language environments. The articles collected here deal with many research fields, such as the analysis of variation and the synchronic and diachronic formation of terms, popularization, genre, textual terminology, corpus linguistics, computational management and ← 9 | 10 → retrieval, extraction and observation of terms in large and small corpora, management and knowledge of ‘dynamic’ and ‘flexible’ data.

The connection between terms and discourse was emphasised by María Teresa Cabré in 1992, when she noted that terms ‘represent’ specialised knowledge in an organised way in order to facilitate structured ‘mediation’ and ‘communication’ between subject specialists, translators, broadcasters, and technical writers. Her argument famously uncovered the dynamic and multidimensional nature of terms in relation to contextual knowledge. Contextual information, as a form of expert knowledge representation that allows users to ‘comprehend’ how terms are used in specialized discourse, was for the first time considered as a fundamental part of terminology. Context includes external features (situational and cultural) and internal features (cognitive), where the meaning of linguistic forms is understood as a function of their use. Context is responsible for the dynamic nature of terms since “the same object may be referred to in a text from various perspectives, if different characteristics of the concept representing that object are activated, or if different connections to other concepts are established” (Rogers 2004: 221).

The studies collected in this volume thus devote great attention to contextual information and discourse as the natural habitat of terms. In the analysis of terms and discourse, terminology may greatly profit from computational tools and techniques as they offer the possibility of observing terms in naturally occurring language by comparing frequencies, extracting contexts, equivalents and most of all in order to observe the evolution of knowledge insofar as “meaning/concept variations may be discovered by tracking changes of expression in the texts” (Cabré 1998: 141). Terms can thus be associated to corpora built according to specific objectives with the aim of a corpus or text-specific terminological description (Condamines 2002). Corpus linguistics is also a useful way to approach terms because of the incremental effect of discourse. Uncovering underlying discourses and rhetorical functions is also made possible by the analysis of the cumulative effect, as Stubbs notes “repeated patterns demonstrate that evaluative meanings are not merely personal and idiosyncratic, but widely shared in discourse communities” (2001). ← 10 | 11 →

Discourse analysis may further help us to envision terms in different domains and genres. As scholars in this volume demonstrate, a genre comprises a class of communicative events, the members of which share some set of communicative purposes. These purposes are recognized by the expert members of the discourse community, and thereby they constitute the rationale (i.e. social purpose) for the genre. This social purpose shapes the schematic (discourse) structure of the discourse influencing and constraining choice of content and style (Swales 1990: 58; Martin and Rose 2007: 8). In this light, discourse analysis may illuminate whether terms may be used for a specific communicative purpose.

The volume endeavours to reflect on four areas of pivotal interest in recent terminology studies: translation, diachronic change and evolution, specialized contexts, media and popularization. The first part of the volume is devoted to some of the most important theoretical and methodological questions concerning the connection between terminology and discourse. It opens with the paper Terminologie et lexicographie : confrontation ou coopération ? by María Teresa Cabré. The author clarifies how the introduction of the discourse variable revolutionized terminology studies and the definition of the terminological unit, which if linked to communication becomes inherently dynamic. This revolution also affects the definition of terminography, and as John Humbley notes in the paper La terminographie entre langue et discours : réflexions historiques et épistémologiques, the work of terminographers is shaped by the constant contention with the reality of discourse. In his investigation, he offers an historical and epistemological excursus of the changing approach to discourse in terminography and examples of this ongoing shifting connection in practice. From a different perspective, Margaret Rogers proposes a typology of variation based on a discussion of the role of social, textual and cognitive dimensions as well as the challenges posed by the instability and stability of terms to translators and terminographers. The section closes with a crucial reflection by Anne Condamines on the methods of textual terminology and the understanding of the functioning of terms in texts from a diachronic and multisciplinary point of view. The chapter examines the evolution of theory and practice in the construction of terminology based on texts. ← 11 | 12 →

The second section focuses on terminology and translation offering new insights into some of the theoretical and practical challenges of the field. The section opens with a chapter by Paola Faini, who reflects on recent research on terminological variation and conceptual patterns of term formation in order to analyse some aspects of intra- and interlingual variation at the terminological and translation level. In her study, she furthers the discussion on terminology and discourse by suggesting and demonstrating that the advent of corpus linguistics and its applications to textual analysis have introduced radical innovations so that “the evolution of terminology may be studied from a pragmatic point of view as the representation of the progress of knowledge. The variation may be considered as one of its manifestations”. Micaela Rossi investigates, through a socio-terminological approach, the textual and discursive dynamics of metaphorical terms within specialized communities. Rossi also deals with the translation of metaphorical denominations across languages by focusing on concepts with specific historical and cultural connotations. In their study, Terminologie et traduction : le dispositif d’enrichissement de la langue française ou l’art du consensus, Pierrette Crouzet-Daurat and Gabrielle Le Tallec-Lloret contribute to the debate on the connection between terminology and translation through an analysis of the French-language enrichment mechanism set up by the Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France, involving collaborative work between experts and linguists. In their work, they describe how they develop linguistic and disciplinary knowledge in order to propose equivalents or new terms in the French language created to represent normative use. In their paper, ‘Naming Things’ and ‘Changes in Meaning’ on the EU Politico-Legal Landscape: Term Creation as an Inherent Feature of the European Project, David Albert Best and Domenico Cosmai focus on the dynamic process of terminological innovation in European Union institutions and on the role of EU language services’ drafting tools and methods. Giulia Adriana Pennisi further investigates EU discourse against Italian law by uncovering some important terminological gaps in legal discourse. Her study demonstrates through a comparative analysis of EU Directives on criminal justice in English and Italian versions (2004–2012), that Italian texts adopt literal translation, which may lead to ambiguous/erroneous ← 12 | 13 → interpretation of the target text causing many problems for an Italian legal audience, if only translational equivalents are used.

The third section aims to promote a necessary debate on one of the most important issues of recent terminology research, namely its diachronic evolution. This section opens with the paper by Maria Teresa Zanola, De « nomenclature » à « terminologie »: un parcours diachronique (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles) entre France et Italie, which goes back to the incipient formation of ‘terms’ and ‘nomenclatures’ both in their neological and communicative functions in the context of the Italian XVII and French XVIII centuries. In her paper, Zanola traces the historical dialogue between the two languages and worlds, through the discipline of terminology. Moreover, she enquires into the methods employed in the past for the construction, clarification and evaluation of concepts and denominations, which across the centuries have contributed to the systematization of craftsmanship, professional and scientific traditions. Claudio Grimaldi follows this line of thought by studying in his paper Évolution terminologique dans le discours de la science au début du XVIIIe siècle how terminology changed and evolved through an analysis of the scientific press of the XVIII century. His analysis uncovers how specialized knowledge within the fields of anatomy, chemistry, botany, and astronomy changed according to the scientific discoveries of the time. The study by Rosa Piro, The “giogrofia del core” in Leonardo da Vinci’s Anatomical Writings, offers a diachronic perspective on the work by Leonardo, who, for the first time, tried to describe and name his own discoveries, and thus forged many new expressions in the specialized discourse of anatomy.

The fourth section on term variation in specialized contexts also offers a stimulating overview of the different formal, theoretical, methodological aspects entailed by the connection between terminology and discourse. Paolo Frassi and Marianna Lisi dedicate their study, La nutrition à toutes les sauces : les termes de l’alimentation entre discours scientifique et discours culinaire, to the analysis of the term units, nutrition and aliment. By taking into consideration scientific and gastronomic discursive genres, they carry out a study of the semantic and lexical status of the two terms through the analysis of their preferred phraseological combinations. Clothing terminology is examined by Maria ← 13 | 14 → Francesca Bonadonna in her paper Les sources documentaires du vêtement d’extérieur au fil des siècles. Since clothing terminology crosses different genres, ranging from fashion magazines to catalogues, from literary works to specialized dictionaries, she proposes an approach for the selection and classification of sources on the basis of the historical period and terminological phenomena. The following chapter by Silvia Domenica Zollo, Le travail de l’argent métal au XIXe siècle : entre termes et marqueurs en contexte définitoire, considers the terminology of silverware through the analysis of two handbooks (1870 and 1873), which were in vogue during the nineteenth century. Her analysis takes into consideration the contexts and co-texts of the terms in order to identify the terminological-conceptual connections of terms in the corpus.

The volume closes with a section on the behaviour of terms in different media genres. The chapter The Greek Crisis: Reformulation Strategies in the Spanish National Press by Francesca De Cesare opens the section with the analysis of the linguistic strategies used by the Spanish press to report on the Greek economic crisis in 2015 in a news discourse corpus. The analysis focuses on the lexical features used by the press to replace or in juxtaposition to specialized terminology and on the discursive strategies employed to communicate specialized information to the lay reader. The study argues that term choice by news reporters contributes to the filtering, organization and framing of specific information. Stefania D’Avanzo investigates the role of specialized lexis in popularized scientific discourse. In her study, ‘Rewriting’ Science: the Popularization of Terminology in TED talks, D’Avanzo devotes her attention to the strategies employed to reformulate scientific concepts through the recontextualization of scientific lexis by focusing on the interesting case of TED talks. Katherine E. Russo explores the specific case of environmental and climate-induced migration and displacement in European Commission institutional discourse. In her study, Climate-induced Migration: the Evaluation of Terms in a European Commission Institutional Genre Network, she employs Corpus linguistics tools combined with Discourse analysis to consider term variation in the European Commission institutional genre network. In the last chapter of this volume, Variation terminologique dans le discours narratif des blogs scientifiques, Jana Altmanova analyses terminological variation in the ← 14 | 15 → dissemination of scientific knowledge and the communicative strategies of journalists in blogs. The analysis uncovers how the choice of terms and their co-texts follow a logic of argumentative and interactive performativity that produces specific effects in the creation of the semantic-referential network. Hence, she argues that in the popularization of science, the type of context, including the means of dissemination, may influence the use of terminology and its distribution.

Bibliographical references

Cabré, María Teresa [1992] 1998. La Terminologie. Théorie, méthode et applications. Ottawa/Paris: Les Presses universitaires de l’Université d’Ottawa/Armand Colin.

Cabré, María Teresa 1998. Do We Need an Autonomous Theory of Terms?. Terminology. 5/1, 4–19.

Condamines, Anne 2002. Corpus Analysis and Conceptual Relation Patterns. Terminology. 8/1, 141–162.

Desmet, Isabel 2005. Variabilité et variation en terminologie et langues spécialisées : discours, textes et contextes. In Blampain, Daniel, Thoiron, Philippe, Van Campenhoudt, Marc 2005. Mots, termes et contextes, Actualité scientifique. Paris : Editions des archives contemporaines, 235–247.

Gotti, Maurizio 2008. Investigating Specialized Discourse. Bern: Peter Lang.

Humbley, John 1996. La Légitimation en terminologie. Sémiotiques. 11, 119–136.

Martin, John R. / Rose, David 2007. Working with Discourse: Meaning Beyond the Clause. London and New York: Bloomsbury.

Rogers, Margaret 2004. Multidimensionality in Concepts Systems. A Bilingual Textual Perspective. Terminology. 10/2, 215–240.

Stubbs, Michael 2001. Words and Phrases: Corpus Studies of Lexical Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge Blackwell.

Swales, John M. 1990. Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ← 15 | 16 →

← 16 | 17 →



Nous avons réuni pour ce volume les travaux de chercheurs internationaux, présentés lors du colloque Terminologie et discours qui a eu lieu à l’Université de Naples « L’Orientale » les 10 et 11 novembre 2015, pour réfléchir sur la relation entre terminologie et discours. L’analyse de ce binôme est aujourd’hui de plus en plus pertinente depuis que la linguistique s’est intéressée à la terminologie (Cabré 1992) qui, en tant que telle, participe originairement d’un système sémiotique complexe dont la langue n’est qu’un des codes employés (Humbley, ici). En effet, le terme peut être défini comme une unité lexico-sémantique utilisée dans un domaine spécialisé de la connaissance largement reconnue par les utilisateurs experts du langage du domaine. Une telle définition n’exclut pas la variation et l’instabilité puisque, bien que la nécessité de la communication spécialisée conduise à des termes réglementés plus spécifiquement que d’autres termes, ceux-ci subissent différentes formes de légitimation et de changement (Humbley 1996). La notion de variation trouve ainsi sa place dans plusieurs approches linguistiques de la terminologie qui prennent en compte sa dimension sociale et cognitive et, plus récemment, sa dimension historique, d’où l’intérêt du présent ouvrage. Comme le soutient Maurizio Gotti, en faisant une distinction entre des « codes restreints », des « langues de spécialité » et un « discours spécialisé », le discours spécialisé « exploite le code de la langue d’une manière beaucoup plus créative et variée » (2008: 23). De nouveaux termes naissent tous les jours alors que les termes existants subissent des variations et des transformations selon leurs différentes fonctions et leur contexte. Pour des raisons pragmatiques, la terminologie d’une discipline ou d’un domaine représente bien sûr un système assez stable, mais son usage en discours s’avère être révélateur de variations dues à de nombreux facteurs (Desmet 2005) que les nouveaux acquis de la linguistique informatique permettent de mettre en évidence, reflétant ainsi l’usage réel de la langue dans un contexte spécialisé. ← 17 | 18 →

Ce volume reflète donc les changements théoriques, méthodologiques et analytiques récents mis en œuvre dans l’analyse des termes dans des environnements de langue authentique. Les textes recueillis ici abordent de nombreux courants de recherche actuels tels que l’analyse de la variation et de la formation de termes en synchronie et en diachronie, la vulgarisation, la terminologie textuelle, la linguistique de corpus, la gestion et la récupération de calcul, l’extraction et l’observation de termes dans les grands et petits corpus, la gestion et la connaissance de données « dynamique » et « flexible ».

La relation entre termes et discours a été soulignée par María Teresa Cabré en 1992, qui montre comment les termes « représentent » des connaissances spécialisées et se structurent de manière à faciliter la « médiation » et la « communication » entre les spécialistes, les traducteurs, les radiodiffuseurs et les rédacteurs techniques. Ses recherches ont révélé la nature dynamique et multidimensionnelle des termes qui se constituent en fonction du contexte. L’information contextuelle, en tant que forme de savoir permettant aux utilisateurs de « comprendre » comment les termes sont utilisés dans le discours spécialisé, a été enfin considérée comme une partie essentielle de la terminologie. Le contexte comprend des caractéristiques externes (situationnelles et culturelles) et des caractéristiques internes (cognitives), où la signification des formes linguistiques est comprise comme fonction de leur utilisation. Le contexte est responsable de la nature dynamique des termes car « le même objet peut être mentionné dans un texte à partir de diverses perspectives, si différentes caractéristiques du concept représentant cet objet sont activées ou si des relations différentes avec d’autres concepts sont établies » (Rogers 2004: 221).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (September)
terminology and discourse textual terminology specialized discourse term formation popularization term extraction
Bern, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 424 pp., 7 fig. col., 9 fig. b/w, 17 tables

Biographical notes

Jana Altmanova (Volume editor) Maria Centrella (Volume editor) Katherine E. Russo (Volume editor)

Jana Altmanova is tenure track Researcher/Lecturer in French Language and Translation at the Università degli studi di Napoli «L’Orientale». Maria Centrella is Associate Professor in French Language and Translation at the Università degli studi di Napoli «L’Orientale». Katherine E. Russo is tenure track Researcher/Lecturer in English Language and Translation at the Università degli studi di Napoli «L’Orientale».


Title: Terminology & Discourse/Terminologie et discours