This document is the Final Report of the POINTER Project (for more information on the goals and history of this project, see II: "POINTER Goals and Methodology"). The Final Report has been collated by the POINTER Workpackage 7 team (Khurshid Ahmad, Robin Bonthrone, Gert Engel, Aggeliki Fotopoulou, Deborah Fry, Christian Galinski, John Humbley, Norbert Kalfon, Margaret Rogers, Corentin Roulin, Katharina Schmalenbach and Eberhard Tanke) under the co-ordination of Deborah Fry. The following material has been used in this task:


This document is divided into two main parts, which for the reader's convenience have been bound as two separate documents/stored as two separate files. The first part contains the text of the Final Report and its findings, and a list of references. The second part contains the Appendices to the Report.

The individual sections covered by the two parts of the report are as follows:

Part 1

Part 2





The POINTER Project was co-funded by the European Commission, DG XIII-E as part of its Multilingual Action Plan (MLAP) programme (project number LRE-63090). The vast majority of the work was carried out during 1995.

The project was designed to facilitate MLAP objectives by:

Within this context, the focus of the Project was firmly on the multilingual rather than the monolingual aspects of terminology and terminology work, a fact which is reflected in the results.

The primary goal of the POINTER Project has been to achieve the objectives stated above by creating a set of concrete recommendations for activities leading to a co-ordinated but flexible terminology infrastructure for Europe. To do this, a large Consortium uniting many of the key players in the field surveyed and analysed existing resources and the many facets of terminological activity and developed future models. The basic principle has been not to reinvent the wheel but to facilitate, support and co-ordinate existing initiatives. This task was approached from a number of perspectives, reflected in the list of Workpackages given later in this chapter in II.C: "Workpackages and Methodology".


The POINTER Project model was deliberately chosen to facilitate the close co-operation of a high proportion of the major actors in the European terminology field. As a result, it comprises a representative cross-section of organisations involved in terminology use and in the creation and dissemination of terminology resources, tools and services. Public and private sector organisations and academic institutions were all included. The following table lists the names of all organisations belonging to the consortium:

Short name Full name Country


BJL BJL Consult sa/nv Belgium


CL CL Servicios Lingüísticos S.A. Spain

DIT Deutsches Institut für Terminologie (DIT) e.V. Germany

INFOTERM International Information Centre for Terminology Austria

INT Institut National des Télécommunications France

SURREY University of Surrey United Kingdom

Associate Partners

ASSITERM Associazione Italiana per la Terminologia Italy

CINDOC Centro de Informacion y Documentacion cientifica Spain

CRB Schweizerische Zentralstelle für Baurationalisierung Switzerland

CTN Centre de Terminologie et de Néologie France

DTG Den Danske Terminologigruppe Denmark

EAB Accademia Europea di Bolzano Italy

ELOT Hellenic Organisation for Standardisation Greece

GOTA Groupement Opérationnel de Terminologie Appliquée France

ILTEC Instituto de lingüística teórica e computacional Portugal

IULA Institut Universitari de Lingüística Aplicada Spain

TERMCAT Centre de Terminologia Spain (Catalonia)

TNC Tekniska nomenklaturcentralen Sweden

TOPTERM Bureau voor Toegepaste Opleidingen en Projekten in
Terminologie Netherlands

UNION LAT. Union Latine France

UZEI Unibertsitate-Zerbitzuetarako Euskal Ikastetxea Spain (Basque


AMSTERD. Amsterdam University Netherlands

CNET ISSY Centre National d'Etude des Télécommunications
(Issy-les-Moulineaux) France

CNET LAN. Centre National d'Etude des Télécommunications
(Lannion) France

ENTB Ecole Nationale des Télécommunications-Bretagne France

GT Gabinet de terminologia Spain

GTW Gesellschaft für Terminologie und Wissenstransfer Germany

LEIPZIG Universität Leipzig Germany

RENNES Rennes University France

SaNT Samenwerkingsverband Nederlandstalige Terminologie Netherlands and

TEL. PARIS Ecole Nationale des Télécommunications Paris France

THESSAL. Thessaloniki University Greece

TLS Association de terminologie et langages spécialisés France

TÜBINGEN Universität Tübingen Germany

UNL Universidad Nova de Lisboa Portugal

UP-CATAL. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya Spain

UP-MADRID Universidad Politècnica de Madrid Spain


The project consisted of the following Workpackages and Phases:

WP0 Project management and co-ordination


WP1 Definition of the terms of reference


WP2 Analysis - International level

WP3 Analysis - European level

T3.1 Analysis - European R&D activities

T3.2 Analysis - European institutions

T3.3 Analysis of selected subject fields in all European languages and


T3.4 Analysis of TMSs in Europe

WP4 Analysis - National and regional levels

WP5 Analysis - Standardisation and copyright

T5.1 Analysis - Standardisation

T5.2 Analysis - Copyright

WP6 Case studies

T6.1 Case studies - Information Technology & Telecommunication (IT&T)

T6.2 Case studies - Environment

T6.3 Case studies - Labour law and social security


WP7 Synthesis, evaluation and proposals

Phase I was designed to produce a standard methodology and set of procedures for the rest of the project, allowing for the production and comparison of equivalent results.

These were then used in Phase II to conduct homogeneous surveys of the availability and use of terminological resources, tools and services, and of requirements, activities and working practices at national, regional and international levels, and in selected subject fields. In addition, the more abstract but no less important issues of quality, standardisation and the legal framework for creation and dissemination were addressed.

Since time and money were insufficient for a full statistically-based quantitative survey at national, regional and international level, and since in a number of cases such surveys already existed, the emphasis of the methodology was on a qualitative interpretation. In addition, existing data and surveys were reused wherever possible, supplemented by written and oral input gained through the distribution of questionnaires (see App. 7: "The POINTER Survey Questionnaire"), interviews and workshops and brainstorming sessions. The results were evaluated using a SWOT analysis. Informants were drawn from the whole spectrum of economic activity, from universities and other research and teaching institutions through private companies to public sector bodies. Similar procedures were also followed for the in-depth case studies; the methodologies for the remaining Workpackages were determined by the subject matter they covered.

The Phase II results, which have been delivered to the European Commission, were used as one starting point for the present Final Report, the main project deliverable, and have been supplemented by further research. The results were evaluated in a number of workshops attended respectively by the Management Committee, Workpackage 7 participants and selected guests, and the Consortium as a whole. Following this, the Final Report drafts and the recommendations contained in them were reviewed by the project's Consultative Board, which comprised major European users from industry, commerce and administration, as well as by all project participants, additional subject field experts and interested parties. The current document therefore represents the results of a significant - and up to now unique - effort by a large proportion of the terminology community throughout Europe. Its recommendations are designed to maximise the value of current and future terminology resources, tools and services to their owners, creators, and actual and potential users, by building on and optimising existing structures. They are aimed at the European Commission, national governments, all levels and instances of the terminology community, both institutional and private sector, and all users of terminology throughout Europe.



The appropriate and accurate use of specialised vocabulary - or "terminology" - is crucial to successful communication in the modern world, and hence to enterprise, research and the future development of ideas. A vast number of organisations and enterprises in all sectors and all branches of trade and industry are engaged in using - and in many cases also creating - terms on a daily basis. This activity takes place both as part of monolingual communication flows (e.g. in a monolingual corporate culture, or within a particular country), and in multilingual environments (e.g. where communications flows span national or regional boundaries, or address different language groups within them).

To name but a few examples, legal texts and regulations, product information, information retrieval systems and thesauri, quality assurance models and manuals, private and public information systems databases, industry standards, marketing brochures, research reports and many language engineering tools all depend on the use of terminology to fulfil their goals of information and communication. In this way, terminological resources and activities help ensure knowledge representation and transfer cultural diversity, safety, and the quality of goods and of life within the emerging European information society. As a result, they have a considerable strategic and economic impact.

The results of the European-wide and sector-specific surveys of terminological resources and activities conducted during the POINTER Project have produced evidence of a situation whose scale and complexity does justice to the scenario painted above. Although it cannot lay claim to being exhaustive, the Project has nevertheless identified thousands of actors, individual resources and other "products" (e.g. tools, training courses, information materials, etc.). These are documented in detail in the POINTER Phase II Reports, and are summarised and analysed in this document. In particular, they form a solid basis for the specific recommendations for improvement made by the Consortium.


That there is room for improvement can clearly be seen from the following list of weaknesses in the current European terminology landscape that emerged during or were confirmed by the POINTER Project (for more information on specific areas, see the appropriate chapters of the Final Report).


To bridge the gap between the needs identified above and the current situation, a number of different types of measures are needed. These can be classified into three main groups: operative measures, contents-based measures, and infrastructural measures.

Operative measures

The POINTER Project has established that there is both a need and a market for the following operative terminology services in Europe:

Contents-based measures

In addition, to the operative services mentioned above, the following contents-based or conceptual measures are required to ensure the best possible framework for individual activities.

In the copyright and validation areas, initiatives are already underway (with the backing and approval of the European Commission) which are likely to produce lasting and positive results. The line to take is therefore more one of ensuring effective interfaces to and co-operation with the terminology field than of starting major new initiatives. Certainly, the fundamental nature of the problems and their applicability to other areas outside terminology means that such as broad-based approach is only sensible. The necessary liaison activities can largely be performed out of existing organisational budgets. In the case of product liability and costing, though, further methodological work needs to be performed (and financed) within the context of limited, closely defined projects (in the former case including all areas of the language engineering industry) combining research and practical verification. The European-level institutions such as ELRA should be the first stop here, with any additional funding necessary coming from the European Commission, e.g. within the framework of a R&D call.

Infrastructure measures

Last but not least, the fragmentation and inconsistent nature of terminological activities in Europe at present leads inescapably to the conclusion that a number of infrastructural measures are required.


  1. The key principles of such solutions are that they should integrate, facilitate and improve existing structures at all levels of activity, and that they should include - and indeed cultivate - links with existing or planned networks at other levels, and in related disciplines and specific domains. This is all the more important since terminology has a dual function as a component of national languages (and hence of national language policy, which is governed by the principle of subsidiarity) and as a multilingual, and hence European, resource.
  2. In addition, care should be taken to ensure that the measures serve as a neutral, open "market maker", facilitating and promoting the emerging terminology services industry without distorting competition.

The most important infrastructural measures recommended by the POINTER Consortium are as follows: