Communities of Practice: Convergence and divergence in terminology and lexicography practice

Sue Ellen Wright

Traditional discussion of terminology and terminology management has focused on discourse or “language-purposed” terminology resources designed to support writing, translating, and interpreting. “Subject-purposed” terminology has given us thesauri and controlled vocabularies, all of which are also referred to as “terminologies” by their practitioners. Metadata experts working In the Internet environment or creating “Big Data” claim they are working with terminology when they define data element names and concepts, as well as enumerated values used in data management. Corpus linguists define metadata tags used to mark up text corpora, and ontologists assign words and terms to nodes in ontological systems, supplemented by appropriate (or sometimes not) definitions. Indexes, initially on paper, but now expressed as semantically informed data, support information retrieval through both aggregated and non-related data stores as well as from unmarked, running text. Close analysis reveals that these onomasiological resources are often incompatible, despite keen interest in interoperability. The discontinuities inherent in these different fields are compounded by differences in approach regarding language codes, without which digital systems and web environments would collapse while non-alphabetic languages encounter challenges in environments according to primarily English or European conventions. This presentation will explore the intersections and interruptions between these diverse communities of practice and communities of language.