RSS feed

Antia, Bassey Edem (Ed.) (2007). Indeterminacy in Terminology and LSP.

Studies in honour of Heribert Picht. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, xxii, 236 pp.
99,00 € / USD 134,00. ISBN 978 90 272 2332 6

Celebrating the work of Heribert Picht, a man who has introduced so many people to terminology, his friends and colleagues explore diverse aspects of the overarching theme of indeterminacy. With chapters by leading scholars, this book deals with the tensions between accuracy and ambiguity in specialised communication.

Indeterminacy is analysed from a number of rather intertwined perspectives. The first four chapters are assigned to a lexical perspective, the following six to an epistemological perspective, and the last three to knowledge modelling. There are, in addition, two personal accounts of the Festschrift dedicatee: a preface and an account of Picht's 'bibliovita'.

By putting together in one volume different case studies and methodological frameworks, this book has the distinct advantage of broadening the indeterminacy discussion beyond what we might achieve in a narrowly construed LSP framework. What we have then, are accounts of indeterminacy not just within terminology, but also in cognitive and anthropological linguistics, knowledge organisation and modelling, translation, software localisation, jurisprudence and macroeconomics.

In the first chapter, Øivin Andersen (Bergen, Norway) suggests that, paradoxically, although nominalisations have definitive rhetorical functions in science, they simultaneously undo science at the level of determinacy.

In chapter two, Margaret Rogers (Surrey, UK) finds that lexical items which are co-referential for a given concept contradict intuitive expectations that terms would support a fairly predictable correlation of concept and designations at the text level. What the co-referential designations show, instead, is that terms in texts seem to generate a variety of unpredictable equivalence relations, both intertextually and interlingually.

In chapter three, taking a diachronic view, Sergej Grinev-Griniewicz (Bialystok, Poland) argues that the indeterminacy/determinacy dialectic in the vocabulary of a language reflects changing states of cognition and knowledge.

Chapter four, by Klaus-Dirk Schmitz (Cologne, Germany), argues that in software development it is quite frequent to find terms and icons that are indeterminate. This iterative indeterminacy ultimately leads to a negative appraisal of the experience of software use.

In chapter five Gerhard Budin (Vienna, Austria) situates indeterminacy within postmodernism from an epistemological angle. With its normative principles of communication requiring precision and consistency of terminology, post-modern language theory is, not surprisingly, very suspicious of invariant correlations of language and objects.

In chapter six, Johan Myking (Bergen, Norway) uses the evidence of lexical contrasts (dichotomies) in basic texts on terminology to provide an evolutionary reading of the field. The author shows how the dichotomous lexical sets that were characteristic of the early texts are currently being renegotiated as synonymy, co-hyponymy, or inclusion, among other sense relations.

Chapter seven, by Vladimir M. Leitchik and Serguey D. Shelov (Moscow, Russia), brings to the fore a debate in the philosophy of science regarding the distinctness of schools or theories, with their supposedly incompatible terminologies.

In chapter eight, Birthe Toft (Kolding, Denmark) argues that if analogy deriving from projections of experience is considered a less determinate mode of concept formation than are abstraction and determination, then its widespread use in the field of macroeconomics is in some sense indexical of the (in)determinacy of terms in the field.

In chapter nine, Ingrid Simonnæs (Bergen, Norway) asks whether it is a contradiction to speak of vague legal concepts, given that vagueness is what these concepts live by. The interpretative activity of lawyers and judges can therefore be seen as oriented towards contextualising legal concepts that are otherwise contextually underspecified.

Chapter ten, by Reiner Arntz and Peter Sandrini (Hildesheim, Germany & Innsbruck, Austria), is written in German. The article describes the dilemma of legal language, pulled in the opposing directions of perspicuity and openness, or even of their respective negative correlates.

From the standing point of knowledge modelling, Sue Ellen Wright (Ohio, US) notes in chapter eleven that terminology management is not alone in dealing with the problem of achieving consensual systematisation of disciplinary facts.

Chapter twelve, by Bodil Nistrup Madsen (Copenhagen, Denmark), shows how adherence to a small number of principles and specific workflow processes can make ontology management tools identify and respond to a variety of indeterminacy phenomena.

Consistently with the contemporary view that models are convenient reductions of infinitely complex spectra of reality, Anita Nuopponen (Vaasa, Finland), in chapter thirteen, underscores the point that reality overflows any given structure of apprehension. In order to do so, she tests the adequacy of a suite of concept relations against process data associated with chadô, the Japanese tea ceremony.

The various contributions in this book show how many new perspectives indeterminacy can bring to LSP and terminology research. In factoring indeterminacy into LSP studies, the contributors to this book are in a way attempting to work out the implications of contemporary intellectual currents for their respective topics, basically with the objective of more roundly reconciling theory with data.

Bartolomé Mesa Lao
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Barto.mesa@uab.cat