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History of the unification and standardization of terminologies

Expert communities develop communicational conventions for the special purpose language (including terminology) of their respective domain. Thus, domains evolve and distinguish themselves from each other. Terminology unification is a common process taking place deliberately or automatically in every subject field since hundreds of years.

Since around 1800, scientific and technical communities have increasingly attempted to communicate across geographic and linguistic boundaries. In the 19th century, large nomenclature endeavours are made in the wake of the accelerating development of sciences and technologies – first by collaborating individuals, later by committees. International congresses, for instance on botany and zoology, were first held in 1867 and 1889 respectively.

Terminology standardization proper started in conjunction with the emergence of electrical engineering – and here specifically with respect to quantities and units. Although standardization of weights and measures has been a goal of social and economic advance since very early times, it was not until the 18th century that there was a unified system of measurement. The decimal metric system was introduced in France on 7 April 1795 by the decree on weights and measures. The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) was founded by the diplomatic treaty known as the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875.

In the course of the establishment of standards associations in the first quarter of the 20th century, the standardization of terminologies proved to be a prerequisite for the standardization of technical products. This has evolved until becoming such a highly complex situation as it is today.

See Standardization and Terminology Standardization

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Last update: 2013-04-29

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