The history of terminology in the European Parliament is divided into three periods:
At the beginning, when there were less than ten languages, two translators worked full time for terminology and later on, one translator. They worked with the classical system of putting cards in alphabetical order in grey boxes which could be found on every translator’s desk. The Division of Terminology collected the material in all languages and big glossaries were printed with the terms translated and with separate alphabetical indexes for all languages. More than 100 multilingual glossaries on several domains and regular terminology bulletins were printed and distributed to all translators together with the dictionaries in their respective languages. A lot of terminology was produced in the collations on specific difficult and important texts organized in presence of the responsible administrator or the draftsman’s representative and the translators in each language. Also, several languages kept organizing meetings with the translation divisions of the other Institutions, mainly the Council and the Commission. In the embryonic period of computer use in the European Parliament, some attempts were made to create an interactive system for terminology among the language divisions, like the one made in dBase by the today’s head of TermCoord.
In the eighties, when the first commercial software, like workbench and especially multiterm, started to be used, the Director of Translation decided to merge the Terminology Division with the technical services (thence called SILD, today’s ITS) keeping only three of the former full-time terminologists in the department. In this period, the main achievement was the introduction of all terminology from the printed glossaries into an EP proper database called EUTERPE (standing for: European Terminology for the European Parliament) developed in parallel with the database fed by the Commission, Eurodicautom.
In the first years of the current century, the need for one unique compatible interactive database was made obvious by the overall attempt to strengthen the collaboration on translation among the Institutions, as well as because of the increasing involvement of the Parliament in the legislative procedure. A Greek company was charged after a tender with the creation of IATE (standing for: Interactive Terminology for Europe). This database would be the unique terminology tool and all databases were entered into IATE through massive import methods. IATE adopted the ready structure of the archiving system Eurovoc, which still corresponds to its domains.
The three terminologists who had transferred from Translation to SILD undertook the task of handling IATE on behalf of the EP with the help of two assistants. Their main task was to enter the content of Euterpe into the database and also some relevant EP terminology such as the Rules of Procedure.
In March 2008, it was felt that the European Parliament needed a separate service to stimulate and to coordinate the terminology work that had to be done with the use of IATE and thus the new Terminology Coordination Service was created in October 2008. The whole strategy, the objectives and the methodology were set by a first very small team consisting of the Head of Service, one full time AD coming from the Administration and one part-time AD seconded from ITS. In the first months they counted on the know-how transfer by one of the old guard terminologists, before he retired. The Service deployed its activities with a group of rotating trainees, specialized in computational linguistics and communication. The valorization of the knowledge and enthusiasm of these young people from all European countries still makes the strength and the dynamism of TermCoord.
In two years, the Terminology Coordination Service has developed its activities and the representation of the EP in the interinstitutional terminology bodies, completed its roster and was converted into the Unit as presented on this website.