12 December 2016 National Defence Committee: military terminology must be unambiguous

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Foto from Riigikogu

Today, the National Defence Committee heard a report on the work of the military and security and defence policy terminological committee of the Ministry of Defence. It came to a joint conclusion that the military terminology must be unambiguous.

The Chairman of the National Defence Committee Hannes Hanso said that the military field must keep up to date. “Estonian is our official language. This means that the military field is no exception – we should be able to have a “war” in Estonian,” Hanso said.

Member of the Committee Ants Laaneots spoke about how the Russian military terminology was used in the beginning of the 1990s; after Estonia joined the NATO, terminology started to be translated from English, and efforts were made to harmonise it. “Military terminology must be unambiguous so that it would be understood in the same manner by everyone who is active in the military field, or takes part in the national defence and finds themselves in a situation requiring military activity. Today, even the experienced military do not always understand a term,” Laaneots said. He stressed that although it was important to know the English terminology – as Estonia is a NATO member state – it should not be adopted automatically by the Defence Forces.

Laaneots sees the need for a dictionary of military terminology. Ain Lutsepp, Marianne Mikko, and Johannes Kert also think that a dictionary of military terminology should be available in book form.

“Certain fields are undergoing a rapid development both in the technological and linguistic sense,” Hanso said. “This is why we must understand that our language cannot stop in its development.”

The Committee heard that the Estonian Defence Forces communicated in Estonian, and yet as a NATO ally, the official language also occasionally uses English terminology and abbreviations. The terminology is accessible in the Militerm data base managed by the Institute of the Estonian Language. The data base currently includes nearly 4,000 terms.

The terminology is regularly reviewed by a relevant committee to make sure that it is in use, current, and up to date. The terminological committee is made up of linguists and representatives of all the services of the Defence Forces, as well as representatives of the Defence League.

The Committee heard about the work of the military and security and defence policy terminological committee from the MoD Director of the Defence Service Department Peeter Kuimet, and Deputy Chairman of the terminological committee Toomas Hiio.

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