“The Corona pandemic has very much left its mark on this year’s work with the dictionary and made it difficult,” says Jari Rusanen, who is in charge of the dictionary.
“Some terms are totally new, and the higher education sector is therefore not in full agreement on what they mean exactly. At the same time, the words are used often and then there is a need to have them translated.”
For example, the English term blended learning has become more widespread due to the pandemic. According to the dictionary, this should be translated into Swedish as blandade lärmiljöer. At the same time, hybrid teaching (hybridundervisning) has emerged as a new term in both Swedish and English. At some higher education institutions, the two terms have been used synonymously, but the dictionary’s terminologist and reference group have concluded that there is an important difference.
Hybrid teaching is a ”form of teaching where some students participate in person on site and others digitally and remotely at one and the same (synchronous) teaching session”. Blended learning environments, on the other hand, are a ”form of education where face to face elements are interspersed with digital tools and elements, (synchronously or asynchronously), with the intention of promoting learning by utilising the different formats”.
Difference between halvfart and halvtid
Other terms whose difference has caused a great deal of discussion are, for example, part-time studies (halvtidsstudier) and studies at 50 per cent pace (halvfartsstudier). The dictionary states that the term part-time studies means that a person’s studies correspond to a 20-hour working week; the term studies at 50 per cent pace does not specify how large a part of the week the studies should occupy in total, but only that the pace of study for the programme itself is 50 per cent. A person can thus study full time but at the same time be studying at 50 per cent pace by studying two parallel courses run at half speed.
“Some higher education institutions do not differentiate between these concepts,” says Rusanen.
A new word : ivägledning
A completely new Swedish word in the dictionary, and also new to many in the world of higher education, is ivägledning. It has been used for a long time within the Council for Higher Education (UHR) to refer to guidance that leads people away from Sweden. This has now been translated into English as international mobility guidance.
“UHR coordinates guidance programmes within higher education, and the word has therefore spread quite widely,”.
A word that has come into Swedish from English and is used more and more frequently is micro-credentials. The Swedish translation is now mikromeriter. The dictionary describes micro-credentials as documented evidence that confirms a person’s learning outcomes in shorter programmes or courses according to an assessment made on the basis of transparent standards and requirements. “It’s a term that’s widely used in the concept of lifelong learning. It can refer to higher education credits from individual courses, but also includes what you have learned outside university or college,” says Rusanen.
26 letters long
Higher education and bureaucracy are notorious for their complicated language, and Swedish is known for its long words formed by joining two or more words together to make new ones where the words would be written separately in English. The new Swedish terms in the dictionary have an average length of 14 letters per word. The longest word is a full 26 letters long: huvudstuderandeskyddsombud (chief student safety representative).
Authorities have an obligation to express themselves in a way that is simple and comprehensible, using what is regarded as plain language. Fundamentally, it is a question of democracy and the rule of law.
Do you address the importance of using plain language in your discussions?
“Absolutely,” replies Jari Rusanen, “but we can’t create new terms in the dictionary project group, so we take those that exist and then choose a term that has become widespread and is the best linguistically.” In this case, the group opted not to choose an even longer alternative as the primary term: huvudstuderandearbetsmiljöombud – 31 letters long.