The Legal Language Interoperability Services (LISE) is a European project which aims to help terminology managers in public institutions and private companies improve the quality of their terminological resources in legal and administrative domains. Within this project, the Guidelines for collaborative legal/administrative terminology work have been developed and published, filling the gap that exists in several terminology centres and units in Europe.
The main audience of these guidelines are terminologists and terminology managers. However they are also for translators, interpreters, legal experts, drafters, standardisers and end users who deal with legal and administrative terminology.
Keeping the terminology workflow in mind, the LISE guidelines describe extensively the tasks that, in a perfect scenario, should be carried out while working with terminology. Starting with the needs analysis, the main idea within this task is to define the current situation, the desired situation, the solution and the realisation. Establishing the initial needs is a key step in defining priorities.
Once the priorities have been set, the documentation task follows. At this stage, different criteria have to be taken into account such as the reliability of the sources, their pertinence, objectivity, general acceptance in the domain, date of production and author.
One of the most important tasks in terminology work comes with term extraction. According to the specific needs of a project, it may be done manually, semi-automatically or automatically, or combining both methods. After obtaining a list of candidate terms, the term selection process begins with the support of domain experts.
Throughout all these steps, the LISE guidelines stress the differences and specific tasks that should be taken into consideration when working with legal and administrative terminology. This also applies to the elaboration of terminological entries, when it comes to the hierarchy of sources or to the existence of synonyms or variants. In the legal/administrative domain it is important to distinguish clearly between terms in the same language that belong to different legal systems.
The final steps in the terminology workflow are the revision and quality assurance, and the dissemination of the terminology work. This can be done through public or internal terminological resources, dictionaries or thematic glossaries and lists of terms.
An important part is dedicated in these guidelines to terminology standardisation. When terminology work is standardisation-oriented, domain experts or standardisers are more involved in all steps of the workflow and they might influence it from the beginning.
In order to provide immediate guidance and to support decision-making in an “emergency” terminology workflow, the LISE guidelines provide a collection of possible scenarios that terminologists might face. In each one of them the methods, advantages and disadvantages are presented and analysed.
The extensive work that is described along the guidelines would not be possible without the right tools for terminology work or without cooperative work. Cooperation in terminology can be done at different levels depending on the roles defined and people involved. Whether it is at a higher level, between institutions or between departments, between staff with terminology-related expertise or IT staff, each one of the roles undertaken optimises the usefulness of terminology work.
To facilitate the understanding of this project, the last points contain the international standards that are relevant for these guidelines and also a glossary of terms and definitions for the most important concepts discussed in them.
As a current trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament, I find the LISE Guidelines extremely useful within the context of the terminology work undertaken by the European Institutions. I strongly recommend them to everyone who works with terminology or who is interested in this domain.
The guidelines are available in English and can be downloaded here.
Article written by Diana Pereira, trainee at TermCoord