New concepts require designation by new terms, typically created from already existing words by means of already existing word formation operations. The preference for operation depends on typological factors, with the consequence that a term in one language may differ structurally from its equivalent in another. We present a case study of computing terms of two typologically distinct languages, English and Chinese. We show that despite typological difference there is a pattern to the way in which English and Chinese terms correspond. We suggest this is partly due to a word formation constraint that applies irrespective of typological factors, namely the Head-Modifier relationship. We illustrate this with examples of English compound, derivatives and abbreviated terms, and their Chinese equivalents. We propose that a framework that takes into account theoretical notions such as headedness furnishes terminologists with an analytical device for studying terminology and perhaps using it for practical application.

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