Bureau de la Traduction -Translation Bureau
Public Works and Government Services - Canada
Travaux publics et Services gouvernementaux - Canada

Reviewed by Françoise Herrmann

If you pledge allegiance to the brightly colored and sweet world of Macintosh, you are in for a special treat from the Canadian government : TERMIUM PLUS®. This is Internet based TERMIUM®. Though you may initially be a little disappointed to hear that the long awaited , August '99 TERMIUM® CD-ROM update is only available for DOS/WINDOWS users, there are in fact some clearly significant advantages to Internet TERMIUM® (termed appropriately TERMIUM PLUS®) for all users.

This is first reflected in the price structure. Internet-based TERMIUM PLUS® is offered on a subscription basis. For individuals, the yearly subscription rate is 225 $ (plus tax), or slightly more on a monthly basis (25 $ plus tax). And on a subscription basis, TERMIUM PLUS® is offering more than the CD-ROM version. Where TERMIUM CD-ROM users deplored lapses in updating promises every year, Internet TERMIUM® users now have access to a newly updated TERMIUM PLUS® every month. The Translation Bureau database is "swept" every month to include new and modified records in a perfect design solution for keeping up with the terminological frontier. And in addition to this unprecedented technological-terminological match, TERMIUM PLUS® users also have access to 50 000 terms in Spanish (unavailable on the CD-ROM version) and three style manuals. Are you still disappointed?

Access to Internet-based TERMIUM PLUS® occurs via your ISP (Internet Service Provider), Internet browser, an account name and password. So the first step for access (once the aforementioned has been secured) is to bookmark the address " www.termium.com" which takes you to the TERMIUM® home page, where you click on the consultation link for access to TERMIUM PLUS®. Following successful login with your userID and password, a split screen will appear where the left frame is designed for searching and the right frame displays the search results (i.e.; the contents of the records searched). This split screen design, combining both search and results functions on a single display, offers much navigational improvement, compared to the separate, toggle display design of the CD-ROM version. In addition, choice of one of three languages for the interface is available with a single click.

Beyond these much improved navigational aspects of the tool, the speed of your own processor, and potential Internet related risks such as denied access due to failed recognition of your userID or password, service provider or telephone company troubleshooting, or temporary network overload and downtime, how does TERMIUM PLUS® fulfill its primary purpose as a tool for assistance to translators and as a unique tool capable of keeping pace with the speed and movement of terminological developments?

If you are a freelancer specializing in medical translation, and the flow of projects suddenly hiccups, you may occasionally find yourself accepting projects in other domains. So while you have no trouble with " purified polypeptides" and " reverse transcriptase" methods of cloning, and even if you did, TERMIUM® is tried and tested (positive) for the related fields of biochemistry, and microbiology. However, you may experience real trouble with " toenailing" when it comes to " bricolage" or more serious construction projects. Mercifully, TERMIUM PLUS® can also help with the coarser anatomy of house-building. The record for " toenailing" displays the following information:

Table 1 : TERMIUM PLUS® record for "toenailing".
English French Spanish
Joints and Connections (Construction); Joints et assemblages (Construction); Juntas y conexiones (Construcción);
Metal Fasteners; Rough carpentry Clouterie et visserie; Charpenterie Clavos y tornillos; Carpintería
Toenailing clouage en biais Clavazón inclinada
Toe nailing clouage oblique Clavazón oblicua
Skew nailing
Tusk nailing
Angle nailing
DEF : The technique of driving a nail at an angle to join two pieces of lumber DEF: Clouage par enfoncement de clous en biais pour fixer l'extrémité d'un membre et dissimuler ainsi les clous, notamment dans les planchers et les lambris. DEF: Clavazón inclinada. Término utilizado en carpintería para refirirse a la clavazón oblicua.

which, in fairly typical format, supplies in addition to glossing by domain, a definition of the term, and in this case glossing and indexing in all three languages: French, Spanish and English. This is to say that TERMIUM® continues, as ever, to supply a wealth of finger-tip assistance to translating, where many specialized (and heavy to carry) mono-lingual and bilingual dictionaries would be needed. Occasionally, and seldomly, there are " no-hits" but you may also qualify (in exchange for a break in subscription fees) to participate in building TERMIUM® by submitting records for inclusion in the database.

In supplying monthly updates TERMIUM PLUS® seeks to keep abreast of terminology. How is this achieved? There are 40 full-time terminologists working on researching and updating terminology for TERMIUM® at the Canadian Translation Bureau, and there are 800 active translators also creating records. This alone, provides a glimpse of the scope and structure of the project. In terms of movement and change this translated into 224 000 newly archived terms between the '96 and '99 TERMIUM® versions, and 83 000 modified records (canceled records for dated terms, modifications for updated terms, and added information). For the monthly TERMIUM PLUS® sweeps, the breakdown is as follows : on average 3 280 records are uploaded each month, 5 380 are modified and 1 320 are deleted. Compared to the 95 year turnaround time between the monolingual Petit Larousse editions, and the 10 year turnaround between the bilingual Robert and Collins editions, this is quite spectacular.

There is an interesting twist, however, in one of the purposes of TERMIUM® development. TERMIUM®'s conservative streak seeks to standardize translations, and at best to serve as "THE definitive" or uniformizing source of translations. However, in choosing the Internet and computer technology as its progressive ally, a very opposing and far less defeating challenge is being met. TERMIUM® is actually endeavoring to keep up with the movement and speed of change in terminological development. This is an interesting case of Linguistic Darwinism (the survival of change) and a wonderful tribute to linguistic theory of the twentieth century, whose very essence arose in an effort to provide systematic descriptive alternatives to prescription. Thus, translators of French, and Spanish to a lesser degree, are indeed priviledged to participate in and share the fruits of the Translation Bureau's labor : a model and unique method of archiving terminology and assisting with translation activity.

Happy TERMIUM PLUS using and building!