SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1993

Transferring Social Concepts Across Linguistic and Cultural Boundaries


The use of standardized terminology can improve communication across linguistic and cultural boundaries, but concepts in the social sphere differ from country to country and entail particular terminological difficulties. Examples are presented from deliberations in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and from an article in the Harvard Business Review. Translation strategies to handle such difficulties are outlined. The contribution that a terminology database can make to guaranteeing uniformity of rendering of source-language terms is discussed, taking as an example the terminology database in use at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. The way in which a well-designed database can bring about improved communication and also increased translator efficiency and cost savings is described. Attention is called to the limitations on standardization of terminology in translation of social texts, often making it necessary for translators to fall back on ad hoc strategies.

Author Information

Datta, JC
United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Austria
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Developed by Committee: E02
Pages: 297–304
DOI: 10.1520/STP18016S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5227-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1493-7