Dealing with terminology also means dealing with neology and its etymology every day. This is because globalised communication and international multilingual cooperation in the industrial field require giving new names to new products daily. Today, we invite you to read about Rodolfo Maslias‘ thoughts on this subject.
Giving new names in the context of the industry also means creating new brands. Therefore, such names have to be catchy, easily recognisable, descriptive and original. All these adjectives conform a set of marketing -rather than linguistic- criteria that products should comply with. One of these marketing criteria is the international use of the same name to avoid complicated and costly translation and terminology work, and to make products and brands recognisable under the same name in all countries where such product or brand is used or sold.
Most companies don’t have linguistic or terminology services and the new terms are created by technicians on the spot, usually in a hurry, to respond to the urgent need of copyrighting.
The easiest way to find an international name for a new product or feature is to use a root from an Ancient language, such as Greek or Latin. Medicine, which was the first science to use an international “onomatology”, has more than 85% of terms of an Ancient Greek or Latin origin.
It is interesting to note that these languages continue to be used as a creative source for branding and naming, despite them not been used anymore. And this is even more surprising in the case of Ancient Greek, whose roots survive only in Modern Greek, as opposed to Latin, which feeds the vocabulary of a whole family of languages.
I recently found some fascinating examples in a publicity magazine of the “Post of Luxembourg”, which listed denominations coming from the Greek word φίλος (friend). We are all familiar with the common practice of adding “-phile” as a suffix, like in the case of “bibliophile” or “discophile”, but I wonder who first dived into Greek to find a Greek root to describe the action of somebody who collects tickets in public transportation “esitériophile”, from the Greek word «εισιτήριο», meaning ticket. Other neologisms in this collection include “copocléphile”, somebody who collects key rings [co(llecteur)po(rte)clé+… phile] and “fiscophile”, somebody who collects fiscal stamps.
When trying to respond to the vertiginous increase of communication needs from a Terminology service as TermCoord, it is impossible to follow and to track down all the neologisms that are also daily created by social media users in all languages. Neology is undoubtedly an important field of terminology, since it constantly feeds databases with new terms and it has gradually become a separate specialisation field for academic departments within linguistic faculties and it is now the object of several and very well documented websites. For this reason, TermCoord has created a repository of such websites and monitors their new entries in order to feed the European Terminology Database IATE with the neologisms that will most probably appear very soon in some of the texts to be translated into all the EU languages.
Written by Rodolfo Maslias, Head of Terminology Coordination of the European Parliament (Luxembourg).
Post prepared by Laura Campan and Pedro Ramos – Communication Trainees at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament.