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18 - Online specialized dictionaries

"Anyone who has had experience in the translating of dreams will, of course, at once be reminded that penetration into narrow spaces and the opening of locked doors are among the commonest of sexual symbols"1.

After having examined so many sites in the previous unit, particularly those referring to other resources and therefore play the role of a meta-site, we will now examine online dictionaries devoted to specialized contexts in greater detail.

I'll start with cuisine, with the site Epicurious Food Dictionary, at the site http://food.epicurious.com/run/fooddictionary/home, that presents itself as a portal on cooking and food in English, but contains a real glossary. Saying that the glossary is in English is a little bit careless, since in the field, the two most widely used languages are French and, to a lesser extent, Italian. We find for example the definition of "mozzarella" (of which this is just the start):

[maht-suh-REHL-lah, moht-suh-REHL-lah] Hailing from Italy, mozzarella is a mild, white fresh cheese that's made by the special PASTA FILATA process, whereby the CURD is dipped into hot WHEY, then stretched and kneaded to the desired consistency. [...]

And this is instead the entry "quiche", with a guide to pronunciation for Anglophones:

[KEESH] This dish originated in northeastern France in the region of Alsace-Lorraine. It consists of a pastry shell filled with a savory custard made of eggs, cream, seasonings and various other ingredients such as onions, mushrooms, ham, shellfish or herbs. The most notable of these savory pies is the quiche Lorraine, which has crisp bacon bits (and sometimes GRUYÈRE cheese) added to the custard filling. Quiches can be served as a lunch or dinner entrée, or as a first course or HORS D'OEUVRE.

As you see, it is structured like a glossary, it doesn't care too much about translatants, it explains the underlying notions. Another kind of site it Provence Beyond (Beyond the French Riviera) http://www.beyond.fr/food/dictionary.html, where you find a French-English and English-French dictionary of some technical terms in gastronomy.

Passing from food in general to types of fish, we have for example the dictionary on fish in many tongues: Icelandic, Latin, Norwegian, Danish, German, French, English, Faroese, Spanish, Portuguese. It is found at http://www.hafro.is/undir_eng.php?ID=22&REF=3 and is prepared by the Icelandic Marine Research Institute. It works in a very simple way: you choose one of the mentioned languages, and you get a list of all the ichthyc species in that language. Clicking on one of these, you get the translatant in all the other languages; for example, clicking on "Latin" and clicking on "abramis vimba", you get:

Orðabók abramis vimba

Strandslabbi (Sótnefur)

pisces , Fiskar,

latína :  

Abramis vimba, Vimba vimba

norska :  


danska :  


þýzka :  


franska :  


enska :  

vimba, zanthe

spænska :  

vimba, zarte

portúgalska :  


At the address http://www.acronymfinder.com/ there is Acronym Finder, a site able to reconstruct the meaning of acronyms. It is very useful when you know the acronym but you don't remember or know exactly what it refers to. For example, searching "ISO" I get the following result:


[not an acronym] common short name for the International Organization for Standardization; also see Iso- prefix

Which means that if, as in this case, I believe I'm searching for an acronym, rather than an abbreviation2, the search engine gives an answer all the same.

In the medical field, there is an extensive glossary at the site http://www.online-medical-dictionary.org/, that is called simply Medical Dictionary Online. Its main limitation is its being monolingual in English, but it is so exhaustive and well done that it can be a good beginning at least for obtaining definitions, as in this case:

LDL Cholesterol

Cholesterol which is contained in or bound to low density lipoproteins (LDL); LDL transport cholesterol to peripheral tissues and regulate de novo cholesterol synthesis at these sites. Atherosclerosis is caused by the deposit of cholesterol on the walls of blood vessels, because of high concentrations of LDL cholesterol in plasma.

We must say that often the English medical term is well known all over the world, therefore, by inserting it in the search engine and indicating the language of interest at the moment as the desired language, you usually get good results.

In computer science, dictionaries and glossaries number in the hundreds. One that is well done and complete is at the site http://www.computer-dictionary-online.org/ and is called Computer Dictionary Online. If the determined researcher steels herself against intimidation by excess of computer jargon - almost always in English - and wants to run a check on what she reads or hears, she can refer to this site, very useful for translators, too. In this field, translators distinguish themselves, above all, for their linguistic-syntactic capabilities, since, as far as lexicon is concerned, you cannot diverge much from the dominating version, as ever in English. Searching for "I/O", you get:


<programming, operating system> (I/O) Communication between a computer and its users, its storage devices, other computers (via a network) or the outside world. The devices the computer uses to do this are called "peripherals".

In the subject of law, translation is often very difficult because legal codes in active force in different countries are not isomorphic, and therefore, often untranslatable. Translating in this field often means simply describing the juridical practices of a different country, often also preserving the terms in their original language. Otherwise, using translatants, we'd risk to give the wrong impression that it is a law of the country of the metatext, not the description of a similar (but different) law in force in the country of the prototext. But there are narrow ambits in which, between given pairs of languages, it is possible to establish some correspondence, as you can see consulting the site http://www.termisti.refer.org/data/testamen/index.htm the French-Spanish glossary of terms relating to testaments, declarations, and notaries (courtesy TERMISTI).

Monolingual glossaries are, rather, very widespread, I recall out of all the Legal dictionary online at the site http://www.legal-dictionary.org/i-legal-terms.asp

As to business terminology, there are many glossaries and dictionaries in the internet. One of the most complete and versatile is the Triccionario present at the site http://www.managespain.com/scripts/diccionario.asp. It is a trilingual dictionary English-Spanish-German of business terms, containing 180.000 terms. For example, inserting "marketing" in the section from English, I get "Absatzwirtschaft, f" in German and «mercadotecnica, f» in Spanish.

Specialized dictionaries are more and more widespread in the internet and often they are a product of the users' cooperation too. In the next unit we'll go on examining online resources for translators.


Bibliographical references

Acronym Finder available in the world wide web at the address http://www.acronymfinder.com/ consulted 17 May 2004.

Computer Dictionary Online. available in the world wide web at the address http://www.computer-dictionary-online.org/ consulted 17 May 2004.

Epicurious Food Dictionary available in the world wide web at the address http://food.epicurious.com/run/fooddictionary/home consulted 17 May 2004.

French-Spanish glossary of terms relating to testaments, declarations, and notaries available in the world wide web at the address http://www.termisti.refer.org/data/testamen/index.htm consulted 17 May 2004.

FREUD SIGMUND, L'interpretazione dei sogni, in Opere, vol. 3, Torino, Boringhieri, a cura di C. L. Musatti, 1966.

FREUD SIGMUND, The Interpretation Of Dreams, translated by A. A. Brill, London, G. Allen & company, 1913.

Hafrannsóknastofnunin, Sjávardýraorðabók [Icelandice Marine Institute, Dictionary] available in the world wide web at the address http://www.hafro.is/undir_eng.php?ID=22&REF=3 consulted 17 May 2004.

Legal dictionary online available in the world wide web at the address http://www.legal-dictionary.org/i-legal-terms.asp consulted 17 May 2004.

Medical Dictionary Online available in the world wide web at the address http://www.online-medical-dictionary.org/ consulted 17 May 2004.

Provence Beyond (Beyond the French Riviera) available in the world wide web at the address http://www.beyond.fr/food/dictionary.html consulted 17 May 2004.

Triccionario available in the world wide web at the address http://www.managespain.com/scripts/diccionario.asp consulted 17 May 2004.

1 Freud 1900: 347.
2 "Abbreviation" is the graphic contraction of a word, and means also the shortened word, as in the case of "chap." in-stead of "chapter". . "Acronym" means the name formed by one or more initial or final letters of many words, as in the case of "model", instead of "modulator demodulator", or "motel", instead of "motorway hotel".