Tributes at the passing of Professor Emeritus Bodil Nistrup Madsen 21.1.2022

Bodil Nistrup Madse

For upwards of 45 years Bodil Nistrup Madsen had prominent research profile in the areas of terminology and terminology management systems, databases, terminology for data modelling, ontologies, knowledge structuring and knowledge representation, not only in her own country, but also internationally.

In a Danish context, Bodil Nistrup Madsen’s name is closely connected with The DANTERMcentre, which was headed by her. This centre was founded in 1998 by the Danish Terminology Group, and in large part builds on the research which was then carried out in the Centre for Terminology and the Department of Computational Linguistics at the Copenhagen Business School (CBS). During the initial years, the focus of the DANTERMcentre was on the Danterm Centre Contract, a large research project carried out in collaboration among CBS, SDU and six major Danish companies. Later, the DANTERMcentre became a CBS centre offering terminology and data modelling services to companies and organizations.

The centre has played a major part in disseminating knowledge of the importance of ensuring quality in business communication through the systematic use of language technology and terminology, and over the years Bodil worked hard in an effort to make the centre a national centre for terminology.

Among the most important achievements of the centre is the development of the terminological database system i-Term and its concept modelling tool i-Model. In 2016, CBS and the DANTERMcentre restructured their activities, transferring development and operation of i-Term and i-Model to the newly established company DANTERM Technologies.

Bodil was active in standardization activities, both at national and international level. In the mid-eighties Bodil Nistrup Madsen was appointed as an expert by The Danish Standards Association to the technical committee ISO/TC 37, Terminology and other Language Resources. For more than twenty years she hwas a very active member of and convener for Subcommittee 3, whose focus is on systems to manage terminology, knowledge and content. In this period her research provided substantial innovative contributions to the development of several standards within this area. At the European level Bodil Nistrup Madsen contributed to the work of CEN, the European Committee for Standardization.

Even before the establishment of the DANTERMcentre, much of Bodil’s research was focused on terminology databases and information categories in lexical data collections in general. A case in point is the STANLEX taxonomy for information categories in lexical data collections. An important feature of this Danish standard, dating back to 1998, is that it is a taxonomy which is not structured as either a lexicographical or a terminological data collection, but comprises information categories covering both types of collections. This feature distinguishes the STANLEX taxonomy from the approaches then prevalent internationally within the field. Thus, at a relatively early stage, this taxonomy presented an innovative analytical approach to the structuring of metadata registries.

Around the turn of the century, Bodil and two close colleagues in the project CAOS (Computer Aided Ontology Structuring) at CBS developed Terminological Ontology, a formalized approach to terminology work. Over time, the method has proved very operational in practical terminology work and in teaching.

The last large project of the DANTERMcentre under Bodil’s leadership was the DanTermBank Project, funded by the Velux Foundation. In the realization that the establishment of a national term bank would demand vast amounts of human resources for terminology work, the purpose of the project was to create the foundations for a high degree of automatization of terminology work, by applying language technology combined with the results of the CAOS project. Bodil never lost sight of the end goal: a national terminology centre, and she worked actively for this as a member of the Language Technology Committee established by the Ministry of Culture in 2017.

In parallel with her research activities, Bodil Nistrup Madsen was very active in teaching at all levels from bachelor to Ph.D. as well as in developing study programs and courses, both at the Business School and for a broader target group. She was also active in the organization and hosting of conferences and other events, both nationally and internationally, comprising i.a. NORDTERM conferences, international meetings in ISO TC 37, and the International Conferences on Terminology and Knowledge Engineering.

Deservedly, Bodil Nistrup Madsen was awarded two prestigious prizes. In 2002, she received the Hedorf Foundation Award for Research in Language for Specific Purposes, and in 2006 she received the Eugen Wüster Special Prize in recognition of her indefatigable efforts to advance and promote the discipline of terminology.

From 2010 onwards, late complications after severe disease prevented Bodil from travelling, thus keeping her from participating in international conferences and meetings. However, this circumstance did not discourage her from research and publication activities, and these last years, the pandemic opened new opportunities for her to participate in events at both national and international level. Opportunities that she accepted with enthusiasm.

Bodil was active until the very end. Her last publications were published in December 2021 and January 2022, more were in the pipeline, and she was working on a consultancy contract for an engineering company, when disease hit her again, this time relentlessly and irrevocably.

Bodil's tireless efforts to improve, further develop, and disseminate terminology work in Denmark, the Nordic region and internationally are invaluable. The vast number of condolences from near and far to Bodil's passing away has been overwhelming - she will be missed.

Lotte Weilgaard & Hanne Erdman Thomsen