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An Bunachar Náisiúnta Téarmaíochta don Ghaeilge
The National Terminology Database for Irish
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About the Content

Terminology Committee Publications

Please note that the database is being continually edited and therefore these dictionaries are not always presented exactly as they were originally published.

The Terminology Committee’s Stock of Terms

What is this stock?

The main terminology collection on the www.téarma.ie site consists of the terminology stock accumulated by the Terminology Committee over the years. The various kinds of sources which comprise the stock are described below.

Domain-specific dictionaries

This stock was accumulated in the main due to the work initiated by the Department of Education in 1927 in order to provide technical terminology for the educational sector, including textbooks, examination papers and educational documentation. The work focused, therefore, on the primary and secondary school syllabus subjects over the years.

The work was primarily carried out by establishing expert subcommittees in the subject fields in order to discuss sets of concepts thought to be essential for the teaching of these subjects, and to recommend standardized terms to be published as domain-specific dictionaries. The work of the many subcommittees led to the publication of over 20 such dictionaries. Those most recently published in hard copy include Proper Names from the New Testament, the Dictionary of Literature and Criticism and the Dictionary of Sailing.

In recent years, the work of subcommittees has been published electronically, on téarma.ie. Those most recently published include Information Technology Terms, Arts Terms and the New Dictionary of Sport.

Some dictionaries compiled by external editors and published by Foras na Gaeilge or for which publication permission was received are also included in this terminology stock, e.g. An Tobar [a terminology manual for the public sector], Dictionary of Parliamentary Terms, Dictionary of Philosophy, Dictionary of Religion, FIONTAR Dictionary of Terminology, Gluais de Théarmaí Teileachumarsáide [Glossary of Telecommunications Terms], Lámhleabhar Bia agus Dí [a terminology manual of food and drink], Lámhleabhar Miondíola [a terminology manual for the retail sector].

Domain-specific lists

In some cases, terminology lists relating to certain subjects were compiled and disseminated to inspectors and teachers of those subjects, and copies are supplied to the public on demand. Some of these lists are works in progress which are updated from time to time with a view to publishing them as a result of new projects in planning, e.g. Archaeology Terms, History Terms, Mathematics Terms, Sports Terms. Other lists were incorporated into terminology dictionaries being compiled for publication, e.g. Metalwork, Technical Drawing, and Woodwork lists were incorporated into the Dictionary of Trades and Technology, Accounting and Business Management Terms and Office Terms were incorporated into Dictionary of Business Studies, and the original Mathematics list was included in Dictionary of Science.

Further domain-specific lists were compiled in collaboration with external organizations who were preparing handbooks or terminology glossaries or software products in their specific domains. The Terminology Committee participated in 15 such publications and in some software products, including works published by An Garda Síochána, Birdwatch Ireland, RTÉ, Sherkin Island Marine Station, Óglaigh na hÉireann, Telecom Éireann (now Eir), The National Botanical Gardens, Microsoft Corporation, Sony Corporation.

Miscellaneous terminology

Terminology resulting from enquiries received from the public over the years was compiled in the form of miscellaneous lists. Two substantial collections of miscellaneous terminology based on the periods 1985-2000 and 2000-2005 were compiled and published on the Internet (www.acmhainn.ie). This and subsequent miscellaneous terminology is input into the téarma.ie database.

The establishment of a national terminology database

The database focal.ie/téarma.ie was developed in order to manage and present the terminology stock accumulated by the Terminology Committee. Firstly, the terminology sources already available in electronic format were input. Other sources were scanned and input. Thus, a significant number of sources, published and unpublished, were compiled in one central resource, constituting a major benefit to the public and to staff members in having ready access to the complete terminology stock. This achievement, however, generated various streams of questions which the Terminology Committee and staff at Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge have been working to address.

The main kinds of questions being generated are

  • how to differentiate between different concepts to which the same term has been designated;
  • how to differentiate or choose between different terms designated to the same concept;
  • how to identify and deal with multiple versions of the same concept to which different terms have been designated (in both English and Irish);
  • how to identify and deal with terms and concepts which have fallen into disuse or are deemed deprecated;
  • how to deal with concepts which are commonly designated by one or more terms in the spoken language and by another term in written sources;
  • how to identify and deal with multiple terms belonging to different language registers to designate the same concept;
  • how to deal with terms competing on the basis of derivation and formation – terms based on native Irish elements as opposed to loanwords;
  • questions relating to the spelling and grammar of loanwords;
  • questions relating to spelling, grammar and punctuation in general.

Editorial methods

In order to address the questions above, the following tasks are being carried out by Terminology Committee staff and by staff at Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge, and on advice from the Terminology Committee:

  • disambiguation tags are assigned to different concepts to which the same term has been designated;
  • choices are made between different terms designated to the same concept on the basis of accuracy, popularity of usage, transparency, co-ordination, age of the collection in which each term is found – the other terms are tagged 'superseded';
  • multiple versions of the same concept to which different terms have been designated (in both English and Irish) are combined as one concept;
  • terms which have fallen into disuse or are deemed deprecated are tagged 'superseded'; concepts deemed deprecated are deleted and replaced by acceptable concepts;
  • terms which are more commonly used in the spoken language than those in written sources are tagged 'colloquial';
  • multiple terms belonging to different language registers to designate the same concept are tagged accordingly: 'colloquial', 'in use', 'in use USA', 'legislation';
  • terms competing on the basis of derivation and formation (e.g. native Irish elements as opposed to loanwords) are analysed on the basis of accuracy, popularity of usage, transparency, co-ordination, age of the collection in which they were found; one is chosen and the other(s) are tagged 'superseded' or 'in use';
  • mistakes and inconsistencies in spelling, grammar and punctuation are corrected or co-ordinated.