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Review of  The Dynamics of Terminology

Reviewer: Andrea Faulstich
Book Title: The Dynamics of Terminology
Book Author: Kyo Kageura
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Lexicography
Issue Number: 14.276

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Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2003 21:26:54 +0100
From: Andrea Faulstich
Subject: The Dynamics of Terminology. A Descriptive Theory of Term Formation
and Terminological Growth

Kageura, Kyo (2002): The Dynamics of Terminology. A Descriptive Theory of
Term Formation and Terminological Growth. John Benjamins Publishing Company,
viii+322pp, hardback ISBN 1-58811-314-0 (NA) 90-272-2328-9 (ROW), $83,
Terminology and Lexicography Research and Practice 5.

Andrea Faulstich, unaffiliated scholar

The purpose of the monograph is to offer a theory of terminology and
terminology growth on the basis of a specific corpus of Japanese
terminology. The study aims at identifying conceptual regularities in
term creation and to lay the foundations for the analysis of
terminological growth patterns and for similar research in the field of

The book is divided into four parts. In part I, the author explains the
theoretical implications of the study, in parts II and III the
theoretical framework for the study of term formation patterns and the
dynamics of terminology is developed on the basis of the Japanese
documentation terminology. Part IV provides an evaluation of the results
and an outlook on further research to be carried out.

Part I: Theoretical Background
In chapter 1, Kageura discusses and defines some basic notions such as
"term", "terminology" and "concept". With regard to "term", defined as "a
lexical unit consisting of one or more than one word which represents a
concept inside a domain" (p. 9), and the status of terms within language,
emphasis is put on the distinction between "terms" and "words" and on the
localization of terms in the realm of PAROLE ("the realization of
language, as opposed to LANGUE, the system of language", p. 11).
"Terminology", defined as "the vocabulary of a subject field" (p. 9), is
regarded as a representation of the systematized knowledge of a given
domain (p. 15). The author reviews "traditional" approaches to
terminology (the "Vienna" school of terminology, Wüster, 1959/60) and
describes recent trends in the study of terminology (among others the
works of Cabré, 1995, 2000 and Temmermann 1997, 2000). It is criticized
that the traditional theory of terminology as well as the recent studies
borrow their theoretical framework from studies of concepts that do not
specifically consider the status of concepts within the theory of
terminology. What is crucial according to the author is the theoretical
framework of terminology into which "concept" is incorporated, not the
kind of "concept" theory used in term description (p. 24).

In chapter 2, the theoretical and methodological framework for the study
of the dynamics of terminology is elaborated. The author points out that
the focus of the study is on the system of terminology, i.e., on term
formation and terminological growth within a given domain, whereas the
use of terms in discourse and phenomena such as meaning shifts and
metaphorical uses of terms are excluded. Basically, it is assumed that
there are systematic factors within a given terminology that "determine
the formation of new terms and the growth of terminology" (p. 34). The
methodology adopted by Kageura is "structural" in two ways: 1) in a
mathematical or algebraic sense of the word, as mental patterns
(combinations of concepts) are mapped to linguistic patterns (terms), 2)
in the sense of structural semantics (Greimas, 1966, Lyons, 1977, 1995),
as a componential method of analysis is adopted (p. 39), with the
restriction, however, that the entire conceptual structure represented by
a terminology (not individual items or semantic fields) is studied and
terminology is located in the realm of PAROLE (p. 40).

Part II Conceptual Patterns of Term Formation
In chapter 3, the descriptive framework for conceptual patterns of term
formation is developed. The author discusses the notions of "concept",
"intra-term relations" and "conceptual specification patterns" and
assumes that term formation is a "specification of concepts within a
conceptual class" (p. 59), i.e., a specification of a nucleus (head) by a
determiner (modifier), where the role the determinant adopts with regard
to the nucleus defines the intra-term relation. According to these
assumptions and to the overall claim of offering a theoretical framework
of term formation that is applicable to different domains and/or
languages, also term creation by metaphorical transformation and similar
phenomena is deemed to be reducible to compounding mechanisms and thus
explainable by the comprehensive structure of terminology (p. 46).

The main objective of part II is the investigation of the relations
between conceptual specification patterns and conceptual categories.
Chapter 4 and chapter 5 provide the analytical framework of such an
investigation and thus prepare the analysis to be carried out in chapter
6. Chapter 4 introduces conceptual categories for the description of
formation patterns of documentation terms. The author identifies four
broad conceptual categories (ENTITY, ACTIVITY, QUALITY, RELATION) that
are relevant to the study of the Japanese documentation terminology and
attributes various subcategories to each broad category (p. 65-80),
elaborating thus a hierarchically structured conceptual system to which
the terms and morphemes extracted from the data of documentation terms
(in Japanese with English translations behind in brackets) are allocated.
Such allocations of morphemes and terms to the conceptual system lay the
foundations for "the description of conceptually-motivated combinations
in term formation" (p. 80). As the author points out in this connection,
it is not intended to provide detailed explications of concepts
represented by terms or morphemes, but only a structural framework within
which patterns of term formation can be described. As a result of the
allocation process, quantitative tendencies for broad categories and
subcategories are provided (p. 81-89). In chapter 5, intra-term relations
and conceptual specification patterns for documentation terms are
identified. The elaboration of intra-term relations is initially based on
the relations proposed by Pugh (1984) and then refined by applying them
to various samples (p. 98). These intra-term relationships are then
restructured, reinterpreted and grouped together as different types of
conceptual specification patterns (p. 106-110). Conceptual categories,
intra-term relations and conceptual specification patterns are formalized
by a system of abbreviations.

Chapter 6 describes and evaluates conceptual patterns of the formation of
documentation terms. Each conceptual category is characterized by the
frequency of terms allocated to it (with a differentiation between
simple, two-item and three-item terms), by the conceptual patterns of
these terms (nucleus term, determinant, intra-term relation) and by the
dominant specification patterns (p. 117-151). From a cross-categorical
viewpoint, different conceptual categories are grouped together by their
common specification patterns. So it is highlighted, e.g., that the
categories of PEOPLE, ORGANIZATIONS, MACHINES and SOFTWARE, having the
common feature of "being active", are prevalently specified by functions
(p. 152). The findings so far obtained are summarized and interpreted
with regard to the further objective of analyzing the dynamics and growth
of terminology. Following the assumption formulated in chapter 2
according to which the formation of new terms is determined by systematic
factors within a given terminology, the author assumes that on the basis
of term formation patterns evidenced in this chapter for the
documentation terminology, predictions can be made with regard to
formation patterns of new terms in the given domain (p. 161).

Part III Quantitative Patterns of Terminological Growth
Chapter 7 delineates aspects of terminological growth patterns which can
be studied by means of a quantitative analysis, and describes a
mathematical model (binominal interpolation and extrapolation) by which
predictions on growth patterns of a given terminology can be generated.

Chapter 8, complementary to chapter 4, studies the dynamics of morphemes
by broad conceptual categories and by subcategories. Applying the
mathematical model of binominal interpolation and extrapolation to the
morpheme distribution within different broad categories and
subcategories, the author gains growth curves of morphemes as a function
of term growth, i.e., the growth of morphemes within a broad conceptual
category or subcategory can be predicted on the basis of the growth of
terms in that category.

In Chapter 9, complementary to chapter 6, the author explores growth
patterns of different elements of term formation (nuclei, determinants,
determinant categories and specification patterns) in several conceptual
categories. Each section dedicated to a conceptual category provides
tables showing the basic quantities of nuclei, determinants, determinant
categories and specification patterns for the terms of that given
category. Furthermore, panels display developmental curves of the number
of types (of nuclei, determinants, etc.), the growth rate and the
relative number of types (of these four elements), with each curve
plotted as a function of the number of terms in a given conceptual

Part IV Conclusions
Chapter 10 summarizes what has been examined in the study, evaluates the
theoretical framework and the methodological implications of the approach
and shows directions for further research in the field of terminology
which can be incorporated into the basic framework.

Undoubtedly, Kageura's study is an important step towards a theory of
terminology and the dynamics of terminology. It offers an interesting
novel framework for the study of terminology which can be extended and
applied to other domains and/or languages. The book is well written,
coherent in its theoretical conception and fascinating by its predictive
power. The clear structure of the text is underpinned by a
reader-friendly layout, summaries, tables and diagrams. What makes
reading complicated at times is, of course, the high degree of
formalization. As a whole, however, the study should be accessible to a
relatively wide range of audiences. Following the objective of offering a
theoretical framework for the study of an entire terminology that goes
beyond the mere description of terms, the author is certainly compelled
to simplify and to remain somewhat generic. Thus, one might object that,
e.g., discourse aspects of terminology or diachronic perspectives are
excluded. The overall merit of the book, however, resides exactly in the
fact that it provides a framework capable of integrating such aspects and
that it fosters the status of terminology as an independent field of

Cabré, M.T. (1995): "On diversity and terminology", Terminology 2(1), p.

Cabré, M.T. (2000): "Elements for a theory of terminology: towards an
alternative paradigm", Terminology 6(1), p. 35-57.

Greimas, A. J. (1966): Semantique Structurale: Recherche de Méthode.
Paris: Larousse.

Lyons, J. (1977): Semantics. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Lyons, J. (1995): Linguistic Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Pugh, J. M. (1984): A Contrastive Conceptual Analysis and Classification
of Complex Noun Terms in English, French and Spanish with Special
Reference to the Field of Data Processing. PhD Thesis, University of

Temmermann, R. (1997): Terminology beyond Standardisation. Language and
Categorisation in the Life Sciences. PhD Thesis, University of Leuven.

Temmermann, R. (2000): Towards New Ways of Terminology Description: The
Sociocognitive Approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Wüster, E. (1959/60): "Das Worten der Welt, schaubildlich und
terminologisch dargestellt", Sprachforum 3 (3), p. 183-204.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER Andrea Faulstich, economist, translator, received her PhD in Romance Linguistics from the University of Potsdam in 2001 and is currently working as a financial and legal translator. Her main areas of research/interest are: translation theory, the special language of finance and law, semantic theory (cognitive semantics, Natural Semantic Metalanguage) and the semantic description of technical terms used in non-specialist contexts.