Term Formation – Is There a State of the Art?

  • Johan Myking
Keywords: term formation, neology, terminology theory, language planning, term motivation


The article discusses theoretical problems of term formation with respect to the tradition as well as to recent developments of terminology theory. Terminology theory has been challenged, discussed and revised during the last three decades. It is asked whether the subfield of term formation has experienced the same sort of theoretical challenging as have other subfields of terminology and whether a clear state of the art of term formation can be identified. Existing models of term formation are discussed and the main positions of some modern approaches are outlined and discussed with respect to the consequences these approaches might have for theoretical and practical terminology work.
The article argues that any attempt at developing a theory of term formation must take into account primary as well as secondary term formation. Functional aspects of terms are interesting to practitioners and hence, relevant to theory. The article agrees that the question of a specific theory of term formation perhaps still is open, but suggests that a more modest approach to ‘theorising’ term formation in all its aspects should be encouraged.

Terminology and the Present