Terminology resources in the context of a major translation project


Maria Rzewuska (Office of the Committee for European Integration)


TO1: Terminology


In this paper the author is going to present terminology activity and resources in the context of a translation project - translation of European Community's legislation into Polish. The specificity of the project focuses on the fact that the project is run by a central organ of public administration in Poland (Office of the Committee for European Integration) and that it consists of a translation into another language of a significant number of pages in a narrow time frame. The amount of the texts covered by the project is assessed for ca. 60 thousand pages (as published in the Official Journal of the European Communities). The project has been launched in 1997 and it is due to end in mid 2003. Facing such a huge amount of legal texts implies a lot of side activities, which are indispensable to assume a high quality of translations.
The workload and the necessity to assure a satisfactory level of the output texts and time limits factors have lead to certain precision what would constitute a good or acceptable translation. The questions on terminology consistency, style uniformity and legal correctness indicated the need to elaborate and develop reliable and efficient terminology resources. The changing political, financial and human resources situation forced us to implement a method of work on terminology simultaneous to revision work. The assets and weaknesses of such a system shall be discussed in a greater detail in the paper itself, as well as the composition of the project, its implementation and its evolution. At present the project has reached equilibrium where terminology resources consist of a terminology database, several subject-field collections of terminology plus other resources which we have access to.
The project comprises several stages - translation of primary legislation followed by the translation of secondary legislation and finally the translation of case law. As the secondary legislation is based on the primary legislation it is crucial to assure that terminology used in a given legal act is exactly the same as the one used in the recalled Chapter or Article of a Treaty. Due to certain administrative constraints the final revision of the primary law is taking place with a major part of secondary law already translated. This fact requires undoubtedly a lot of elasticity in the course of the project.
The last stage of the project is the translation of case law of the Court of Justice of the European Communities. The methodology used in this case shall deviate from the one adopted for the main project. Two principal factors have to be taken into account are chronology of the case-law and the elaboration of Polish terminology ex ante the process of translation itself. This change of attitude stems from various facts, among others, that the project team is conscious how the consistency among documents is important, not only within one document. This shall lead to develop a terminology database devoted only to case-law terminology, a title and key words repository. As always each part of the project will also result in the preparation of guidelines for translators, focusing the attention on the specificity of the document's structure and basic "dos and don'ts". 
Having in mind how important terminology consistency is, not only within one text but also within the whole project, the necessity for the elaboration of common terminology resources became clear. The project team, composed of the members of the Translation Department at the above-mentioned office, has as its disposal a terminology bank and various specialised thematic collections of terms. The main repository of terms comprises only general European vocabulary. The so-called Eurojargon is the nightmare of translators and the elaboration of Polish equivalents is a very difficult job. We have also several IT tools although not all fully reply to our needs. Finding key words in context or searching for the approved usage of certain terms is possible due to the application of, for example, the concordance function in the Translator's Workbench or other. The Translation Department co-operates very closely with the Translation Service of the European Commission which is willing to render accessible all text and terminology management tools which were found useful.
The timing of the project is very important but it vital that the quality of the texts meets the standards of terminology consistency, homogeneity and coherence. Our experience and tools have lead us to adopt a certain approach which could also be adopted in the case of other large translation projects.


Terminology resources, Legal translation, Acquis communautaire, Terminology consistency

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