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History of the standardization of terminological principles and methods

Early beginnings of a systematic approach to terminology unification – comprising also the unification of principles and methods – can be observed in the 19th century. Thus, at the above-mentioned international congresses on botany and zoology the principles for naming plants or animals were established. Chemical terms are being regulated since 1892 according to principles that are established at international nomenclature conferences.

In the first half of the 20th century, increasing terminology standardization activities necessitated the formulation of principles and methods for terminology work. ASTM, the American Society for Testing Materials, for instance, started to unify principles and methods of terminology standardization as early as 1928.

In the early 1930s, the eminent Soviet terminologist Ernest Drezen often referred to Eugen Wüster’s first major work “Internationale Sprachnormung in der Technik” [International standardization of language in engineering] (published in 1931). This ultimately led to the establishment of the technical committee ISA/TC 37 “Terminology” of the International Federation of National Standards Associations (ISA) in 1936, whose secretariat was taken care of by DNA (Deutscher Normenausschuss, the German Standards Committee) in cooperation with Eugen Wüster. Four meetings were held by the Committee before World War II caused the end of its activities in 1939.

In 1951, ISO/TC 37 (formally established in 1946 by the International Organization for Standardization, ISO) was reactived under the name of “Terminology (principles and co-ordination)” and became operational in 1952 under the leadership of Eugen Wüster who ran the secretariat till 1971. The history of the standardization of terminological principles and methods is closely linked to the life work of Eugen Wüster and from 1971 to 2008 to the activities of Infoterm.

See also History of Infoterm

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Last update: 2013-04-29

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