Terminology Course: Conclusion

bricks wall

In one of my posts, I said that terminology is useful because it gives us the keys to different disciplines or fields of research. But I take it even further, as our instructor, Philippe Caignon, put it in one of his lectures: everything is terminology.

And it is true. I thought about what he meant for a while and realized that I couldn’t possibly have understood a linguistics class, or a technical translation class if I couldn’t really understand the terminology. I like to think of terms as geometric objects with a purpose. And either they fit as objects to understand how something is built or they do not make any sense and we are unable to build anything with them. After all, our minds construct reality out of these geometric abstractions and we call it knowledge.

The theme throughout this semester was the New Economy, but it could have been any other subject and terminology would always be the backbone of whatever discipline we might have chosen.

I like to think also of terminology as the mother of translation because, without terminology, translation would be like a wondering soul lost in the darkness.

Image: Flickr, Creative Commons License, 2012.



Terminology Course: March 27, 2014

health care

In this session, health economics was one of the subjects of discussion. A short definition of the term, taken from Termium Plus, is put as follows:

“A scientific discipline that seeks to apply the principles and rules of economics in the health care field.”

If this doesn’t seem to be clear enough, what better example than comparing health economics in Canada to the United States. What comes out of the comparison is a complete difference in how both the Canadian and American public view the issue.

Taking a look at some of the statistics shows how baseless preconceived notions can be. For example, while practically all Canadians have access to health care, how is it possible that the United States (where many people have no health care insurance) has to spend more in health care than Canada? And if private health is so much better in the United States, how can it be that Canada has much better numbers when it comes to mortality rates (both infant and adult), life expectancy, and so on?

In Canada, health care is seen as a right, while in the United States, for some reason, it is a luxury. In the United States, health economics became a lucrative business, while in Canada, though perhaps lucrative as well, is at least much more limited for private entities.

I am aware the Canadian system has other problems such as waiting times or physician availability, but, considering all aspects, it seems a much better deal than what our neighbors in the south are getting.


“health economics.” Termium Plus, Web, 2014.

Terminology Course: March 20, 2014


This session focused on oral terminology or, better yet, fieldwork terminology.

As part of the Francofête à Concordia, a group of Quebec local producers, in an event called La Foire du terroir québécois, was invited to showcase its products right on the hall of the EV building:  chocolates, teas, cheeses, jams, breads, patés and many other products.

This fieldwork terminology project consisted of talking anonymously to vendors, so that we could extract as many different terms as possible.

I encountered three types of vendors: those who had their products exclusively in French; those who had their products marketed and packaged in both English and French; and those who I had no idea why they were there in the first place (because they were selling staff from Italy, for example).

In general, I thought the prices were as elevated as I expected. For this sort of event, there are three marketing tools that attempt to justify how expensive everything is: organic, locally grown or made, and nationalistic pride. Another factor that helps the equation is terminology.

With terminology producers are able to make their products sound exotic and sophisticated.

What follows is a list of the ones I got:

Gelée de canneberges et cidre de glace – Cranberry and Apple Ice Wine Jelly

Canneberge entière séchée sucrée – Whole Sweetened Cranberries

Canneberges enrobées de chocolat noir – Dark Chocolate Covered Cranberries

Cidre de glaçe

Vin de tomate

tartinade gélifiée de baies du sureau

tartinade gélifiée de bluets

tartinade gélifiée de raisins

Thé du Labrador

Champignons sauvages déshydratés

Gommage exfoliant et hydratant de la forêt (this one is probably the winner of marketing manipulation, at 8 to 15 dollars per small bottle)

Pommes croustillantes au sirop de bouleau

Fromages biologiques



Overall, I had a good time tasting different free samples and experiencing practical terminology fieldwork. However, I am left wondering about price fairness (at least, with some of the products). For the moment, I am afraid I am more inclined to think that it is all part of an elaborated marketing strategy.

Credit Image: Concordia University, 2014.

Terminology Course: March 6, 2014

Wall_E Humans

In this session, a few videos were presented to create a discussion: Andrew McAfee’s “Of Hellabytes and Recombinant Innovation: The Second Machine Age”, Shawn Achor’s “The Happy Secret to Better Work”, and Brené Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability.”

McAfee’s talk discusses the rapid advancement of technology. And though it seems we’ve seen it all, this is just a warm-up of what’s to come. Better yet, new technology will bore us. Something like an autonomous car will astonish us, at first. After a while, though, it will bore us to death.

This idea reminds me of the movie Wall-E, where all the humans living in outer space in the year 2800 or so are shown sitting permanently in these floating chairs talking to hologram screens and slurping smoothies, while getting fat and getting more and more bored than ever.

But hopefully, some other technological advancement will better fulfill our lives and curb our propensity to become bored.

Either this or the positive psychology approach taken by Shawn Achor in his TED talk will do.

Mr. Achor proposes taking advantage of happiness to turn it into success. To achieve this, every opportunity should be taken to channel positive energy as often as possible.

I don’t have the time or space in this blog to offer a counter argument for Achor’s ideas. But, as a matter of principle, I am skeptical of psychologists in general. I can only say that happiness depends on so many variables that it seems to me practically impossible to prescribe formulas to every person. This world is simply full of injustice and inequality, yet we go on with our lives and look the other way because we don’t want our happiness ruined by someone else’s problems. Therefore, I don’t need somebody telling me to keep looking the other way, because I’m already aware that this is what I do, as soon as I get up in the morning.

The last talk by Brené Brown had to do with the way we perceive ourselves. Do you ever feel unworthy, ashamed, fearing life or people? Well, there is a solution, says Brown. Learn to accept your imperfections, be kind to yourself, try to connect to others, and embrace vulnerability. Brown herself lived this experience and, eventually, she got a spiritual awakening.

Again, I remain skeptical about Brown’s suggestions. For some people, a discussion full of positive advice may very well help them with their lives. To me, accepting yourself seems to be a process that many people already go through as they age, regardless of having somebody telling them what to do.

Videos Cited:

McAfee, Andrew. “Of Hellabytes and Recombinant Innovation: The Second Machine Age.”

Achor, Shawn. “The Happy Secret to Better Work.”

Brown, Brené. “The Power of Vulnerability.”

Image: Wall-E, 2008.

Terminology Course: February 27, 2014


In this session, the discussion was focused on how a monolingual terminology record is suppose to be made.

The example shown in class consisted of a table divided in boxes, each box listing different categories: subject field, sub-subject field, entry term, definition, synonym(s), notes, sources, and works of reference (in French: domaine, sous-domaine, entrée ou vedette, contexte(s), synonyme(s), notes, sources, et références).

In this case, a monolingual terminology record for Gaelic Irish was prepared in French as follows (this was done in preparation to Seaghan Mac an tSionnaigh’s visit):








Deux langues sont parlées en Irlande : l’anglais, qui est la langue majoritaire, et l’–. // Langue celtique, l’– appartient au groupe gaélique (au même titre que le gaélique écossais et le mannois).



1. En Irlande, l’irlandais a le statut de langue officielle, et il est enseigné comme matière obligatoire à l’école.

2. L’irlandais est parlé comme langue maternelle dans les régions rurales comme le Gaeltacht, mais aussi en zone urbaine, notamment à Dublin.

3. Seulement 70,000 personnes, soit moins de 2% de la population de l’Irlande, utilisent l’irlandais au quotidien, mais près de 2 millions de personnes ont une connaissance bonne ou moyenne de la langue.

Source (du contexte)

Le dictionnaire gaélique irlandais – Freelang, [Online]

http://www.freelang.com/dictionnaire/gaelique_irlandais.php, site consulté le 26 février 2014.

Références (ouvrages et dictionnaires consultés – pour les remarques)

Le dictionnaire gaélique irlandais – Freelang, [Online]

http://www.freelang.com/dictionnaire/gaelique_irlandais.php, site consulté le 26 février 2014.

Terminology Course: February 13, 2014

mickey mouse tokyo disney

In this session, an interesting article, “Geopolitical Correctness”, by Tom Edwards was discussed.

Mr. Edwards, an expert in the subject of localization, points out the importance of geopolitical awareness. Throughout the 20th century, globalization appeared to be the solution for many companies to produce a single-market content product for all. When companies realized they were losing business because of this model, they moved towards a multicultural content approach. Thus, a company like Disney dresses Mickey Mouse in a traditional Japanese outfit for their Tokyo Disneyland.

I can also think of McDonald’s Canada selling poutine or lobster sandwiches in New Brunswick.

But many companies, writes Mr. Edwards, see localization as a problem or an inconvenience. Some product managers go as far as stating that they would not hesitate to eliminate localization if they could. And there are many who associate localization with political correctness.

For instance, I remember seeing in a 60 Minutes program, a few years ago, the owner of the Jelly Belly Candy company (the makers of the Jelly Bean), Mr. Herman G. Rowland, complaining about having to translate the packaging into French for the company to be able to export its product to Quebec. His advice? Forget the French and let it all be packaged in English. In his mind, it was ridiculous, and a nightmare, for the company to have separate inventories (one for the United States, the other for Canada). Mr. Rowland saw this issue as a matter of being politically correct with French Canadians, which is why he was ready to drop the French out of the package, if he could. Of course, as of 2014, Mr. Rowland hasn’t been able to do so.

The conclusion of all this? The fact that the world is more connected than ever doesn’t mean that people have lost their sense of belonging to a particular culture, region, or language. Quite the contrary, localization has become more important than ever, and will remain relevant in the future.

Article: Edwards, Tom. “Geopolitical Correctness.” Multilingual, December 2009. Print.

Image: Tokyo Disneyland Resort, Flickr, Creative Commons License, 2013.

Terminology Course: February 6, 2014

carte conceptuelle

Are concept maps useful? This is the sort of question that was in my mind before each student briefly presented their concept maps.

The theme was the New Economy. And it turns out that concept maps are not only useful but are a reflection of individual creativity and freedom of thought, things that are necessary for terminology projects.

I showed my own concept map on a previous post, but mine is only one approach out of many.

Each concept map on the New Economy had different perspectives, approaches, and ideas, which in turn inspires new angles to look at a specific subject or concept.

To me, the main lesson of this project is to show that there are many possibilities when channeling and organizing an idea or a concept, and that each of those possibilities is worth exploring.

Le Monde

downton abbey







radio canada

Other issues were discussed in class: the difference between international vocabulary and Canadian vocabulary and how globalization affects vocabulary.

Complicated issues indeed.

There is certainly a difference in vocabulary that is easy to notice by just reading a few online newspapers from Canada and from the United Kingdom. And, precisely, the Internet makes it easy for people to familiarize with lexical differences or even phonetic differences.

I can easily watch on the Internet a television series from England, say Downton Abbey, or read a Parisian newspaper like Le Monde, while being aware of the linguistic differences from Canadian television or newspapers. Could I possibly mix them both? Perhaps, but I like to think that thanks to technology I’m able to enrich my vocabulary or adjust my ear to different pronunciations.

As a terminology student, being curious and all about learning new things, I cannot but be grateful to these modern technological advantages.

Concept Map Image: Rémi Bachelet “Évaluer une carte conceptuelle”, 2013. Flickr, Creative Commons License, 2014.

Other images: Flickr, Creative Commons License, 2014.