How much terminological theory do we need for practice?

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The relationship between theory and practice is a particularly pertinent one for newly-emerging academic subject fields such as Translation Studies and Terminology Studies, as translation and terminology / terminography / specialized lexicography are activities originally rooted in practice over millennia. In this paper we would like to address a number of issues related to this relationship in the context of advanced specialized translation programmes (postgraduate or year 5). Starting from a consideration of how ‘theory’ as a concept can be variously interpreted by students and practitioners alike, we go on to review the goals of courses in terminology management for translation purposes with a view to identifying the potential contribution of terminological theory. In this, we will argue that certain aspects of theory can help to inform decisions of practice and that the crucial question may be one of pedagogical presentation rather than ‘does theory matter?’.


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