For a formal representation of variationism in terminology: two case studies

In-house seminar

Since the time of its founder Eugen Wüster, terminology has been characterized by a fundamentally onomasiological, normative and static approach, inspired by a neo- positivist semiotics: the term, which is a fundamentally monosemic entity, would establish a perfect unique correspondence, indifferent to any cultural and temporal variation, with the concept, which is a one-dimensional entity. However, more recent approaches have shown how variationist phenomena are very frequent in terminological repertoires. In fact, far from being mere labels, terms function in all respects as linguistic signs. Subjected to the same rules that are applied to natural languages, they can vary according to the space, interlocutors, communicative situations, purposes of communication and time. In the light of such acquisitions, this contribution intends to illustrate some methods of formal representation of terminological variationism, with a particular attention to the diachronic and cultural dimensions. Specifically, it will illustrate and discuss examples taken from the diachronic lexicon of the Genevan linguist Ferdinand de Saussure and from the Italian-Chinese bilingual lexicon constructed from Ricci’s Mappamondo (1602) and its Italian translation by the Jesuit Pasquale d’Elia (1835).

Speaker(s): Silvia Piccini

Graduated in Classics at the University of Pisa, she obtained her PhD at the same University with a thesis dedicated to the study, from a diachronic and Indo- European perspective, of the actional values ​​conveyed by prefixes in Lithuanian and of the effects of the latter on the argumentative realization. Since 2011 she has been a researcher at the Institute for Computational Linguistics “A. Zampolli ” of the National Research Council of Italy, where she specialized in lexicography and computational terminology, creating, within national and international projects, termino-ontological resources in different languages ​​(Latin, Greek, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Italian and French) dedicated to various specialist fields (astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, linguistics and religion). Her research focuses in particular on the formal representation of aspects of terminological variation, with a particular attention to the diachronic axis and the cultural dimension. She continues to deal with aspects related to Baltic law and general linguistics and, in particular, to the thought and work of Ferdinand de Saussure. Since June 2018 she has been a member of the Cercle Ferdinand de Saussure.