Departments and Units


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The Faculty of Translation and Interpretation has always given a central place to the discipline of terminology, as a key element in specialised translation. The Terminology team conducts research on various aspects of the discipline, both from the point of view of fundamental research and from the point of view of its practical contributions to translation and communication.

Members : Aurélie Picton, Donatella Pulitano, Julie Humbert-Droz et Emma Thibert.

Former members : Mélanie Maradan (2013-2019), Tessa Paci Innocenti (2018-2019), Laurène Camenzind (2014)

Research areas

In our team, we are interested in dialectal variation, and in particular in two types of variations less widely described in specialized discourses: diachrony (and more specifically short diachrony) and diastraty. Our research is most often based on applied contexts and needs, from industrial and academic partners, which allow us to nourish scientific reflections at several levels:

 - descriptive, by analyzing the semantic and lexico-syntactic functioning of terms in situations of variation,

 - theoretical, by helping to situate the variation in the theories of terminology (notably through the prism of textual terminology),

 - and methodological approaches, by questioning the methods of systematizing tool-based approaches into comparable corpora, the balance between qualitative and quantitative approaches to build an interpretation and the collaboration with domain experts for the analysis,


The team maintains a privileged link with the professional world and the practice.

Our research is usually anchored in applied applications from industrial and academic partners (e.g. Cnes, Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies).

Our activities are based on close contacts with groups and associations working in terminology (for instance Computerm). We are also involved in the writing of books on the subject and on best practices.


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The team is currently involved in the following projects:


Type of project: multiple financing

Date: 2016 - ongoing

Scientific partners: The Encyclopedia, initially promoted by the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies (former CERAH - University of Geneva and IHEID), is an international multi-partner project. It is based in particular on the interface between actors and researchers in the humanitarian field. Two bodies ensure the steering and implementation of the project: the Advisory Board and the Scientific Committee.

More specifically and currently, four people are currently contributing to the various research activities on this project :

- Prof. Doris Schopper, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Switzerland

- Prof. Aurélie Picton, TIM/FTI, Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, University of Geneva, Switzerland

- Prof. Clara Egger, Centre for International Relations, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

- Prof. Pilar Leon Arauz, Department of Translation and Interpreting, University of Granada, Spain

- Prof. Karl Blanchet, Honorary Associate Professor in Health Systems Research

 All project members and their different roles are detailed here.


In recent decades, humanitarian action has undergone unprecedented development and diversification, due, on the one hand, to the growing needs related to ever-longer major crises and, on the other hand, to the increasing strategic role played by humanitarian aid in the management of international crises. In this context, the Humanitarian Encyclopedia proposes to provide an increasingly diverse humanitarian community with a clear and comprehensive reference framework, enriched with local knowledge and contextualized. Rooted in a collective approach and mobilizing humanitarian and academic partners, this initiative aims to better understand the evolution of the use of humanitarian concepts according to time, geographical contexts, organizational cultures and professions. To what end? To harmonize, improve and deepen understanding of core concepts in order to enhance the coherence and effectiveness of humanitarian action as a whole. This project draws on the latest advances in terminology and computational linguistics to analyse the diversity of humanitarian language from a large body of texts in the field, and to represent knowledge adequately. Through a dynamic and participatory process, our approach mobilizes an interdisciplinary team of linguists, computational linguists and academic and professional experts in the field of humanitarian language.

In this project, our team has in particular created a very large and complex comparable corpus of 80 million occurrences, which can be organized according to different variables such as types of humanitarian organizations, regions, etc. The corpus is currently being exploited by the Geneva Centre of Humanitariann Studies.


Visit the Humanitarian Encyclopedia project website for more information!


 The team has recently been involved in the following projects:


OCEAN, monitored use of knowledge-rich contexts for review

Type of project: DGLFLF Project (Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France)

Date: 2015-2016

Scientific partners :

- LINA (applicant), Nantes, France

- TIM/FTI, Geneva, Switzerland

- ILCEA, Grenoble, France

- University of Paris 7, France

- University of Rennes 2, France

- CETIM, Toulouse, France

Following the CRISTAL project, the OCEAN project aims to assess the value of using/integrating knowledge-rich contexts for the review process.


CRISTAL, Knowledge-rich Contexts for Terminology Translation

Type of project: ANR (National Research Agency, France)

Date: 2011-2015

Scientific partners :

- Leader: LINA, Nantes, France

- Partners: Lingua&Machina, Paris

- CLLE-ERSS Laboratory, Toulouse, France

- TIM/FTI, Geneva, Switzerland

In this project, the team's task was to evaluate the contribution of the extracted bilingual lexicons associated with their knowledge-rich contexts in a translation aid situation. It was based on the development of various scenarios, as well as the definition of a methodology and a user environment (interface) to target the information to be presented to the translator and its impact on the quality of the translation. This task was carried out in collaboration with Emmanuel Planas (LINA) and Amélie Josselin-Leray (CLLE-ERSS).


"Presence of space in the general public"

Project Type: R&T (Research and Technology), Cnes

Date: 2010-2011 (end of funding, but research still ongoing)

Scientific partners :

- Leader : CLLE-ERSS, Toulouse, France, Anne Condamines

- Partner: TIM/FTI, Geneva, Switzerland, Aurélie Picton

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 2010, the Cnes brought together different scientific disciplines to question the place of space in the general public's mind. As linguists, we were asked by the Cnes’ communication department to analyze the way in which space, as a set of real or imaginary specialized knowledge, has been disseminated to the general public, more or less consciously, over the last 50 years. The point of view adopted is that of corpus linguistics in order to work on the notion of "dynamics" and to better apprehend it in comparable corpora, between specialized and general languages.


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Main collaborations

The Terminology team maintains collaborative links, both for research and student training, with several institutions, including the CLLE-ERSS laboratory (CNRS and University of Toulouse), the CRTT (University of Lyon 2), the Université Catholique de l'Ouest (Angers), the OLST (University of Montreal), the IULA (University Pompeu Fabra), the LexiCon team (University of Granada), and the University of Hildesheim.


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We supervise training in terminology, terminography, terminotics, corpus for translation and lexicology (applied and specialized) at the faculty. This training allows students to become familiar with the issues specific to these fields, as well as with the most up-to-date tools and methods to support them in their future profession. Several possibilities are available to students taking these courses:

 - internships in terminology and translation technologies

 - dissertation supervision

 - supervision of doctoral theses

 - participation in the team's research.

Our faculty also offers a "Terminology mention (specialization)" as part of its MATT Master programs.


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