Terminology work – an important necessity

Last changed: 13 July 2023

At SLU, a lot of important knowledge is produced. Knowledge that often needs to be communicated to the surrounding society. In order to do this, we need terminology in the local language. Also, many of our degree programmes include objectives related to the ability to communicate with different audiences.

According to the Swedish Language Act, all government agencies – like SLU – have a special responsibility for ensuring that Swedish terminology in their various areas of expertise is accessible, and that it is used and developed. This is important, and the reason terminology is also included in SLU’s own language guidelines.

Using the right language

In our guidelines, focus is on making terminology accessible, not least for students. For example, students on a programme taught in English should be introduced to subject-specific terminology in Swedish as well. If all instruction and all course literature is in English, there is a risk that they will not be able to discuss their subject in any other language. However, once they enter the labour market, this will be a requirement for most of them. They will need to communicate with colleagues with other backgrounds, with clients and various other target groups.

This, of course, also applies to students with other mother tongues than Swedish. While a course or programme taught at SLU will not teach terminology in other languages, those students can and should be encouraged to explore subject-specific terminology in their own language, perhaps by compiling their own bilingual glossaries. There are simple ways of raising the "terminological awareness" among students.

Raising terminological awareness

  • Bilingual presentations, with slides in Swedish and English.
  • Swedish-English glossary on the course web page with central concepts explained. As little as 20–30 concepts can be enough.
  • Ask students to identify central concepts in course literature, write definitions and find equivalents in Swedish or their own language. This is also an excellent opportunity to discuss suitable and reliable sources of subject-specific terminology.
  • Suggest and link to texts and other resources where the subject is discussed or presented in the other language.

The second item in our guidelines is also about making terminology accessible. There are terminological resources at SLU – lists of concepts with definitions, mono- and bilingual glossaries etc. – that could be made more visible and distributed to a wider audience.

Any terminological material that includes Swedish can be proposed for publication in Rikstermbanken, Sweden’s national term bank. Please contact the language coordinator for more information.

Published September 2018.