Language standardization in e-commerce by applying terminology structured content management


This text is an abstract of the article “Language standardization in e-commerce by applying terminology structured content management: Case Colombia ” by Juan Carlos Díaz Vásquez. To read the full article, please access the following link: University of Vienna, Languages for Special Purposes in a Multilingual, Transcultural World: Proceedings of the 19th European Symposium on Languages for Special Purposes.

The article focuses on the role of Structured Content Management and of terminology principles and resources in e-commerce activities carried out between Colombia and other countries. Since the strengthening of economic and commercial relations is a priority for Colombia, a need for terminological standardization has cropped up in the background of an increasing use of the New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for business. Buyers and providers are starting to have common views regarding the way they “deal with the language in describing, classifying and sharing Product Data regarding Information Management and commercial purposes conjunctly” (Díaz Vásquez, 2014: 401).

Terminology management comprises a set of activities which are related to design, classification and presentation of language resources. Terminological standardization refers to a set of methodological and technical standards that develop language resources. It can also be described as “any deliberate manipulation of terminological information” (Wright/Budin, 1997). Product Data Management covers everything related to the activities of the companies: terms, measurements, product description and classification, logistics, maintenance, marketing and sales. Standardized language is a requirement in e-commerce schemas such as: business to consumer, business to business and e-procurement. Terminology principles, terminology databases, ontologies and thesauri facilitate the management of huge amounts of information handled for commercial purposes.

Terminology management can be divided into two approaches: descriptive terminology management and prescriptive terminology management. The latter comprises the terminological standardization. International standards have created a common reference framework for technological language used in trade and in technological transfer and are built on the process of agreements among national delegations which represent different sectors. The agreements are applied in areas like “classification of materials, manufacturing and product supply, testing and analysis, and last but not least, the agreements on terminology of products description” (Drame, 2006). They are very useful as sometimes differences between technical specifications set up barriers which disrupt the communication flow and the product data interchange. Therefore, the aim of International Terminology Standardization is “to facilitate the exchange of goods and services through the elimination of technical barriers to trade” (ISO/TC37, 2007).

Electronic commerce is a key catalyst for the internationalization of the Colombian economy, which has begun in the ’90s. The Colombian Government implemented a Virtual Unified Platform (Colombia Compra Eficiente, 2013) for the purchase of goods and services. It seeks transparency in the purchase and contracting processes by the State and it creates unified policies for buyers and suppliers. This platform plays a crucial role in terms of commercial electronic communication and interoperability between data of products. The Columbian Purchase Efficient Agency (Agencia de Contratación Pública, Colombia Compra Eficiente) has the task of standardizing products and services electronic data management through a unified electronic market scheme.

International Terminology Standardization provides a set of common criteria which are used to render online commercial transactions less difficult. In conclusion, terminology is a key actor on the international stage.


By Ţigriş Simona-Luiza, terminology trainee at TermCoord