Trans-European Language Resources Infrastructure - II

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A Multilingual Dictionary or a Set of Bilingual Dictionaries? (Experience with excerpting English and German economic corpora for the purposes

of terminological database)

Helena Svobodová
Institute of Languages, University of Economics
Bratislava, Slovakia

Within the TEMPUS project SPECIALIZED COURSES FOR TRANSLATORS/ INTERPRETERS IN ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION IN ENGLISH AND GERMAN, the primary task of the team was to prepare tailored textbooks, workbooks and obviously dictionaries for the courses. Thus, the corpora (English, German) to be processed into textbooks were to be identified, the existence of the identical or similar extralingual reality in both the language and cultural contexts (English, German on the one hand, Slovak on the other) to be identified, the existence of the terminology in the both contexts (English, German on the one hand, Slovak on the other) proved. It comes from the above mentioned that the team work required multidisciplinary approach including linguists and experts in the a.m. fields. Moreover, the theoretical background of the different workers did not prove sufficient and their experience in cultural context as well as practice in the field were desirable.

The principal problems faced within the corpora identification and processing phase:

  1. expert's identification of the basic areas of knowledge in different fields, of the basic terminology within a field etc. on the English/German part
  2. cultural and linguistic differences among English varieties (British vs. American version in this case)
  3. expert's identification of the concurrence and difference of the field structuring in the English/German and Slovak contexts
  4. existence or non-existence of the Slovak terminological system covering different areas of the field
  5. productivity or non-productivity of newly introduced Slovak terms

The term processing for the dictionaries accompanying the textbooks brought into consideration further problems:

  1. homonymy in English
  2. synonymy in English
  3. equivalency in deeper layers of terminology
  4. unambiguity of a term in German and Slovak vs. ambiguity of an English term outside its context
  5. different sets of terms necessary for English, German as the first languages or Slovak as the first language
  6. use of explanations with terms in an effort for preciseness

The final stage - joining the three sets of terms into a common English, German and Slovak dictionary - proved all the expected differences of the three languages. While the terms in all three languages mostly corresponded on the most general layer, the deeper the layer was the more there lacked equivalents. We assume this may be different in different scientific areas, but lexicographers must be aware of the danger.

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© TELRI, 19.11.1999