The features of a new generation of terminological systems are introduced: they are computerbased, multihierarchical, extensible, mappable. This performance is achieved by a compositional approach: each phrase of a reference nomenclature is represented systematically by predefined descriptors from a thesaurus, according to a “categorial structure” (a model of semantic categories and their relations).
A new terminological system is therefore made of four interrelate components: i) categorial structure, ii) thesaurus (system of descriptors), iii) a family of system of phrases (reference nomenclature, reference classifications, taxonomies) and iv) a knwoledge base with the systematic representation of phrases according to the structure.
The role of the European standardization body (CEN) to support the development of such terminological systems (of second generation) is outlined; the synergy with traditional systems (first generation) and with formal models (third generation) is discussed.
The above perspective is applied to the alpha version of the International Classification for Nursing Practice (ICNP), and potential steps to complete its evolution into a fully effective second-generation system are outlined; an initial hypothesis about the content of a CEN standard on categorial structures for nursing phenomena and nursing interventions is provided.