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The terminology used in the computer and telecommunications field adds tremendous confusion not only for the lay person, but for the technicians themselves. What many do not realize is that terms are made up by anybody and everybody in a nonchalant, casual manner without any regard or understanding of their ultimate ramifications. Programmers come up with error messages that make sense to them at the moment and never give a thought that people actually have to read them when something goes wrong. In addition, marketing people turn everything upside down, naming things based on how high-tech and sexy they sound. And, the worst of all is naming specific technologies with generic words. See naming fiascos and technical writer.

Following is an example of two routing protocols that are used to keep routers up-to-date with network information. OSPF and IS-IS do similar things; in fact, OSPF evolved from IS-IS, yet every element associated with these standards has a different name. This constant changing of names, changing of menus, changing of parameters, etc., is what makes this field incomprehensible and discourages a lot of good people from entering it.

IS-IS              OSPF

 Subdomain          = Area

 Level-1 area       = Non-backbone area

 Level-2 subdomain  = Backbone area

 L1L2 router        = Area Border Router

 Intermediate       = Autonomous System
  System               Boundary Router

 End system         = Host

  system            = Router

 Link               = Circuit

  data unit         = Packet

 Designated         = Designated
  Intermediate         Router

 Link-State PDU     = Link-State

 IIH PDU            = Hello packet

 Complete Sequence  = Database description
  Number PDU



a branch of vocabulary; the sum total of the terms used in a particular area of science, technology, industry, art, or public life and connected with a corresponding system of concepts. The establishment of a terminology is conditioned by social, scientific, and technological development, since every new concept in a specialized area must be designated by a term.

A system of terminology must correspond to the current state of development in a given area of science, technology, or human activity. Terminology changes over the course of history and derives from various sources. For example, with the development of philosophy and science in the Middle East, the terminologies of the Muslim countries were based on Arabic. Renaissance Europe tended to base its terminologies on Greek and Latin. More recently, an increasing number of terms have been based on national languages accompanied by borrowing from foreign languages. Russian terminology also makes extensive use of foreign elements of terminology combined with native elements, for example, superoblozhka (“dust jacket”) and ocherkist (”essayist”).

Terminologies are subject to regulation, standardization, and lexicography. The compilation of terminological dictionaries for various languages, as well as of specialized terminological dictionaries, is of great importance. Aspects of terminology are dealt with by conventional and machine translation, by information retrieval systems, and by the field of documentation. In the USSR, the Committee on Scientific and Technological Terminology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the State Committee on Standards of the USSR deal with terminology. International organizations concerned with terminology include the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and UNESCO (INFOTERM).


Lotte, D. S. Osnovy postroeniia nauchno-tekhnicheskoi i dr. terminologii: Voprosy teorii i metodiki. Moscow, 1961.
Reformatskii, A. A. Chto takoe termin i terminologiia. Moscow, 1959.
Kak rabotat’ nad [nauchno-tekhnicheskoi] terminologia. Moscow, 1968.
Sovremennye problemy terminologii v nauke i tekhnike. Moscow, 1969.
Kandelaki, T. L. “Znacheniia terminov i sistemy znachenii nauchnotekhnicheskikh terminologii.” In Problemy iazyka nauki i tekhniki. Moscow, 1970.
Lingvisticheskie problemy nauchno-tekhnicheskoi terminologii. Moscow, 1970.


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