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Dr. Ekaterini Nikolarea (Bio)
University of the Aegean

Creating a Bilingual Glossary for Translators
[This article in Greek]

                      Figure 5:
A bilingual TDB by Nikoleta Karali.

Creating a Bilingual Glossary for Translators            
                     Figure 6:
A bilingual TDB by Alexandros Nassiadis.

       To do what is portrayed in Figures 2, 3 and 6, take the following steps:

       1. Select all your text using your mouse / keyboard shortcuts or go to Menu File, then Edit, go down and click Select All [Read more about selection and using keyboard shortcuts in a tutorial regarding text manipulation for translators] .

       2. Move your mouse pointer to the toolbar, which is on your screen, and drag the Hanging Indent (or Left Indent - the lower pointer) and indent it slightly. If the First Line Indent (the upper pointer) moves along, do not panic. Drag it and take it back to '0' of the toolbar.

       3. Release your mouse. The toolbar with the First Line Indent and the Hanging Indent will appear on your page as it is in Figure 7:

Creating a Bilingual Glossary for Translators

                                          Figure 7: A Sample.

       COMMENT: Although simple in execution, this procedure has the advantage to help the eyes of the reader, especially when the TDB is an extensive text. If the TDB becomes a working tool for you who may be professionals (i.e. translators, subject specialists, terminologists, lexicographers) or other language users (i.e. ESP students and teachers), the range of pages may vary from 5-6 up to 200 or even more. Compare the number of pages in Figures 1, 4, 5, 6 - which are TDBs made by Geography students - with those in Figures 2, 3 and 8 - which are part of a larger project: a bilingual (English: Greek) dictionary for Geography students.

       4. It is up to you to italicise, underline or write in bold face the terms. You may want to use 'plain text' rather 'rich text.' If it is so, then indent your text slightly so that the terms of your TDB are visible without any difficulty. Figure 8 is an example of this procedure.

Creating a Bilingual Glossary for Translators

                Figure 8: A bilingual TDB by Ekaterini Nikolarea19.

       c) Scrutinising your entries

       At this stage of Phase Three, you must exercise your DISCRIMINATORY (COMPARATIVE and CONTRASTIVE) SKILLS if you wish your document to be clear and understandable. To achieve that, consider the following issues.

       1) If two meanings (or target equivalents) of an English term are exactly the same or very close in meaning, either delete one of them or rephrase the meaning of the term in your own words.

       2) If you are uncertain about the spelling of the term or the explication of a definition, write a question mark beside it (or any other recognisable indicator) and consider:        
  • going back to the library to carry on more research;       
  • doing a search on the Internet;       
  • checking those notes or textbooks which may be related to the term for which you are looking; and       
  • asking other translators, specialists, teachers, terminologists or lexicographers. They may be able to give you an accurate term in your native language.

       A SUGGESTION: If you come up with an answer to your enquiry, go back to your entry and insert the answer. If you do not, leave the question mark (or whatever indicator you may choose to insert in your document) in your text as a reminder to do a further search for this term. See 'Tablet: (1) ???' in Figure 3 as an example.

       SOME ADVICE: When you start doing a TDB, do it methodically and in small chunks. Once a week insert in your TDB the English terms and their TL equivalents that you encounter in the subjects whose lectures you have attended during the week. If you do that consistently and methodically, never will you be overwhelmed by the amount of terminology you have collected and the time you have to spend to type it up.

       Phase Four: How to manage your TDB        

       4.1. Creating Your Own TDB Filing System

        Once you have created your first file of TDB (as described in Phases Two and Three) and saved it in your hard drive or in a diskette, it is easy to create more TDBs. However, before you create more TDBs, you need to choose the folder, or location, where you save the present file of your TDB and the files you may create in the future. A folder is a container in which documents, program files, and other folders are stored on your computer. A folder also allows you to classify materials according to their function or subject. You can create more than one files and store them in one or more folders, thus creating a computer filing system to store all the files of your TDBs electronically.

        The structure of your electronic filing system (or "folder hierarchy" as it is called) is a matter of personal preference. If you share your computer in the home or office, your first step should be to create a separate folder for each user. Figure 9 is an example of how I have created two different folders for myself - Ekatnik and ekatnikDIC - in a PC that I am sharing with other colleagues. In the folder Ekatnik I save files of general interest, whereas in ekatnikDIC I save small- or large-sized files of bilingual TDBs. The different naming of the folders and the suffix DIC (: Dictionary) to the second folder help me remember in which folder I save my TDBs.

        If you take a closer look at the ekatnikDIC folder, you will see that there are files with English and Greek abbreviated names; sorted according to a specific rule; that is, first come the files with English names and then the files with Greek names. This sorting is done automatically by the computer. No matter what folder hierarchy you use, what helps in the overall organisation and management of different TDBs is how clear and consistent you are in naming and storing your files. Another tip in the organisation and management of your TDBs is to have all your TDBs in one folder. That makes it easier to find them and make back up copies.

        All the steps that I have just described are based on the assumption that you know how to create folders and files, how to organise files within folders and how to create your own filing system. If you are of those people who are not very good at word processing, refer to Self-Study Kits, such as Windows XP Step by Step  and Word 2002 Step by Step.

Creating a Bilingual Glossary for Translators

         Figure 9: A folder (ekatniDIC) and many files of bilingual TDBs created by Ekaterini. Nikolarea.

       4.2. Merging files into one so to create a longer and more complete TDB: An Advanced Way

        You may create many short TDBs according to various subjects or sub-fields of your discipline, such as those in the folder ekatnikDIC, Figure 9. All these TDBs are Word documents (files) named after fields or sub-fields of a discipline; e.g. foto, which stands for Photography, is a file including terminology relevant to 'Photography,' 'Photogrammetry' and 'Remote Sensing.'

        I merged most of the files of the folder ekatnikDIC into one long document, which I named SPVOCFINAL20. SPVOCFINAL is my current working file of a bilingual dictionary that I have been preparing for publication. This file, a glimpse of which Figures 2 and 3 are providing, is 209 pages long and appears in a zipped form in Figure 9, as well. To make this merger, I followed two procedures.

       4.2.1. PROCEDURE ONE: Creating a New Merged TDB

       1. I chose the longer document at the time; that is, SPVOC2 γενικό (: SPVOC2 general); see Figures 8 and 9.

       2. I saved it as SPVOCFINAL (: Special Vocabulary FINAL).

       3. I placed the pointer of the cursor at the end of the document.

       4. I opened one of the documents; e.g. GIS.

       5. I selected and copied the entire GIS document.

       6. I closed the GIS document.

       7. I returned to the end of the SPVOCFINAL document, where I had placed the pointer of the cursor.

       8. I pasted the selected and copied GIS document.

       9. I repeated these steps as many times as the documents I wanted to copy in the new document.

       10. When I finished copying the old documents into the new document (SPVOCFINAL), I selected all the text of the new document and followed the steps: Menu File ->Table-> Sort-> OK to sort the terms of the new document.

       11. The terms of SPVOCFINAL, my new TDB document, appeared in alphabetical order.

       4.2.2. PROCEDURE TWO: Cleaning and organising the new long TDB

        As you can speculate, when you merge different TDBs, there may be some or a good degree of overlapping of terms. If it is so, you have two options. You may either leave your TDB as it is, without changing it, or 'clean' it so that it is organised, clear and understandable to you and to whoever wants to consult it. If you choose to 'clean' your document, you must be armed with 'P & P': Patience and Persistence, especially if your TDB is long and complex. You must also exercise your DISCRIMINATORY SKILLS.

        There are two fundamental principles that you must take into consideration when doing this 'cleaning-up.'

       1. If the same term appears more than once and its definitions are the same or very similar, keep the most accurate one and delete the rest or write the definition in your own words in simple and clear language. See and follow the instructions as described in Phase Three 3.1., 7. c, 1.

       2. If the same term appears more than once but its definitions are different, then enumerate (number) the different definitions; e.g. (1) ... . (2) ... ; see Phase Three 3.1., 5. c, 2.

       3. If the same headword appears more than once and its definitions are the same but with a different meaning (signification) in different fields or sub-fields, follow the instructions as described in Phase Three 3.1., 5. c, 3.

       4. If you see the question marks you had put as reminders, keep them (do not delete them) until you find the most accurate version of the term; see Phase Three 3.1., 7. c, 2.

       5. Do this 'clean-up' in small chunks and in a short, allocated time methodically, consistently and persistently. For example, work on one page for half an hour once or twice a week.

       SOME ADVICE: This is your personal TDB and you can work on it in the way you find the most appropriate to your character and schedule. The quintessence of organising, managing and maintaining an up-dated TDB is to work on it methodically at regular times. Up-date your TDB whenever you encounter a new term or a new or a different definition to any of the existing terms.

        In the beginning, you may find it tiresome, irritating, pointless and time-consuming to organise, store and maintain a personal TDB. Nevertheless, once you have created it electronically, it is easy to retrieve it, make any corrections you find necessary, manage it and, of course, you can rely on it when your memory fails you.


        After I have been using the construction of a bilingual TDB as one of the means of teaching Translation, Terminology and Lexicography to Translation students and English to Geography students, I have concluded that a bilingual TDB can become a powerful tool in teaching Translation, Terminology, Lexicography and English (or any other language).

       The TDB as a part of learning process

       1. A TDB can develop and enhance learning. Translators and other language users have already acquired some knowledge that they try to use in order to make sense of the flow of new information. It follows from this that a TDB can only be compiled, managed and maintained only if translators and other language users have the necessary knowledge; that is, knowledge of their mother tongue and one, at least, foreign language (e.g. English), knowledge of library search (research methodology), knowledge of PCs, analytical and synthetic reasoning, knowledge of exercising discriminatory skills.

       2. A TDB is a thinking process. It is not enough for translators and other language users to have the necessary knowledge to make things meaningful. They must also use this knowledge. This carries two implications for the methodology and the final creation of a TDB:

       1. Translators and other language users should become aware of what they know and how they can use it with the aid of other translators, colleagues, teachers and other specialists.

       2. Translators and other language users should learn how to do a library search and how to use a Word processor.

       3. The creation of a TDB is an active process. It should be apparent from principles 1 and 2 that translators and other language users are seen as active participants in their long-term learning process. The creation of a TDB involves two kinds of activity: (a) the psycho-motor activity (i.e. the movement of hands, eyes); and (2) the processing activity (i.e. the activity in the brain whereby translators and other language users try to make sense what they have seen, read, heard or written). Both activities are equally important in the creation of a TDB. If one of these activities is lacking, then a TDB cannot be realised.

       4. The creation of a TDB involves making decisions and exercising their discriminatory skills. Since the creation of a TDB is a complex learning experience (as described in Phases One-Three), it follows that it triggers translators' and other language users' active thinking process during which they use existing knowledge to make new information meaningful and try to cope with new information by classifying it. Throughout this process, all language users make decisions, deciding what is meaningful and what is not, exercise their discriminatory skills, deciding which term is relevant to the subject they study, deciding which definition is correct and what is not, which definition can stay or is to be deleted. (Phase Three, 3.1., 5. 1-3 and 3.1., 7. c, 1 and 2). It should however be considered that all language users, as decision-makers, cannot avoid being uncertain or making mistakes. Therefore, translators and other language users should give themselves the opportunity to be right, to be uncertain about a term by typing up a question mark (?) beside it or the definition(s) (see Phase Three, 3.1., 7. c, 2) or even the opportunity to be wrong.

       5. Creating a bilingual TDB is bringing a complex conceptual and factual knowledge together with linguistic knowledge. The role of existing knowledge in creating a TDB has been emphasised. It should however be noted that it is not only knowledge of language that enables translators and other language users to learn and use a language. Translators and other language users usually have got a complex mass of conceptual and factual knowledge. Nevertheless, the most fundamental challenge for translators and other language users is the mismatch between their cognitive/conceptual capacities and their linguistic level. Frequently, all language users have knowledge of the subject matter that they cannot express it linguistically either in a foreign language or in their own mother tongue as eloquently as they wish.

       At this point, a TDB can play an important role in developing translators, and other language users' general and specialist language learning. It can help all language learners because it can become a point of reference - an electronic mnemonic to which they can refer when their memory fails them. A TDB can also motivate translators' and other language users' general and specialist language learning because it gives them a 'language background' to build their self-confidence on.

       The TDB as a product

       A TDB can be a product and sign of personal achievement for all language users.

       1. A product of translators' and other language users' effort and learning process. We have already explained this process in much detail in the previous section.

       2. A product of knowledge in its very physical sense. Small- or large-sized TDBs, as shown in Figures 1-6 and 8, in a printed or electronic form can become a point of reference, a tool to which all language users can refer. A TDB can help translators and other language users recall difficult words or terms that they have encountered. Thus, a TDB can become an 'R & R' (Reference and Reinforcement) tool, as it will be explained below.

       3. An actual product of Research Methodology. By constructing a TDB, translators and other language users have learned how to find, document, use and manage information and knowledge that will become eventually essential in learning more about their discipline and advancing their career.

       4. An actual product of drawing upon and pulling together translators' and other language users' general and specialist knowledge. As they become confident in constructing a TDB and their memory in learning vocabulary and difficult terminology in the foreign language is strengthened, translators and other language users show two very positive learning attitudes: (a) Overcoming their shyness regarding difficult terminology and (b) Willingness to share their knowledge with other people.

       a) Overcoming their shyness with difficult terminology. When my students (novice translators and Geography students) started working on the construction of a TDB, they were afraid of it because it was part of the assessment of their course. During our class sessions and as we were studying specialist texts originally written in English, translators and other language users overcame their shyness with asking questions and associated the information and knowledge they got in our sessions with that they were acquiring in their subject classes, which were conducted totally in Greek.

       b) Willingness to share their knowledge with other students and people. As Translators and other language users became more confident in their newly acquired information and knowledge and more relaxed about being assessed, they stopped being reserved and competitive and started sharing the information and knowledge they had acquired with their fellow students and with me, their instructor.

       I should however confess that convincing my students sharing their knowledge with their fellow students and other people - even with me, their instructor - took me almost a semester. I noticed that translators and other language users stopped being competitive among themselves only when did they see me sharing my knowledge and my large bilingual TDB (SPVOCFINAL) with them and did they understand that my criteria of the assessment of their TDB were the quality and the creativity displayed in their TDB. Eventually, they relaxed a little and created TDBs which, although based on the same Geographical texts, were creatively different. For example, Charidimos Deverakis (Figure 1) and Alexandros Nassiadis (Figure 6) based their TDB on "Clean Beaches- Using GIS to Help Remedy Shoreline Contamination," an Internet text authored by Daniel Reid et al, but their TDBs (the final product) was qualitatively, quantitatively and creatively different but equally good. Similarly, Athina Kehajia (Figure 4) and Nikoleta Karali (Figure 5) based their TDB on the text "Introduction to Spatial Data and S+SPATIALSTATS," an excerpt from S+SPATIALSTATS by Kaluzny, Vega Cardoso and Shelly (USA: Springer, 1998), but their TDBs, though equally good, were of different approach.

       6. A product of independent thinking and interdependent knowledge. During the construction of their TDB, translators and other language users gradually become independent learners in that they learn where to find, how to document, use their sources and manage the information acquired in order to attain their final purpose: the creation of an understandable TDB. During this kind of process, translators and other language users soon realise that they need the help of other people more knowledgeable (i.e. librarians, their teachers and specialists) than them as well as the sharing and exchanging of knowledge with other language users and professionals. Thus, they slowly become aware that acquiring knowledge is always an interdependent process and that it is heavily based on interconnectivity of the humans with the material, real and 'virtual' world.

       The TDB as a powerful tool for future reference, use and management

       The TDB usually becomes a 'R & R' point for translators and other language users; that is, a Reference and Reinforcement point. On the one hand, the TDB, as a Reference point, becomes a physical and electronic reality for translators and other language users to refer to and consult with the different meanings (semantics) of difficult words and expressions as well as the semantics of various terms. On the other hand, the TDB, as a Reinforcement point, functions as a 'friendly reminder' of translators' and other language users' memory and makes them feel more and more confident in their learning of specialist vocabulary.

       The TDB as a means to strengthen all language users' self-confidence and self-esteem

       Furthermore, the TDB has been a proof of translators' and other language users' personal achievement. This achievement can be measured in terms of (1) personal effort, (2) saving time and effort (since they do not have to do the same research over and again), (3) motivation (to manage the TDB the best way they can) and (4) a long-term use. For example, translators and other language users can use their TDB in a job that demands the knowledge and use of specialist terminology or even when they go for post-graduate studies in another linguistic environment.


       I am concluding this paper where I started from: the translator and any other language user, who can find himself/herself in a situation that terrifies him/her due to the demands that a translation of a difficult specialist text, the teaching or the use of more than one languages may make on him/her.

       The translator, the teacher, the specialist and any other language user can transcend the difficult situation s/he is in and perform his/her duty successfully, if s/he is willing to become an explorer and a learner of his/her new learning situation and environment. S/He should not be afraid of learning from other translators, teachers, colleagues and other language users, when being in a professional situation. In other words, a translator and any other language user can or must become a 'student' himself/herself - experience some anxiety and risk of failure - in order to perform his/her professional duties better than s/he is doing now. The philosophy and methodology underlying the compilation of a bilingual TDB is one of the most powerful methodological tools in translators' and other language users' hands to find, document, refer to and use information and knowledge necessary for them. Thus, a bilingual TDB can become a powerful teaching, learning and professional tool for translators, terminologists, lexicographers, specialists, language teachers and students and any other language users alike.

       I am also concluding this paper with the translator and any other language users who are expected to have good knowledge and know certain methodological tools that will help him/her accomplish his/her duties: transfer his/her (specialist) knowledge to another language. A bilingual TDB is one of these tools.

Previous page...


Aikaterini Nikolarea CV
A sample from one of her dictionaries
Aikaterini Nikolarea, Performability versus Readability: A Historical Overview of a Theoretical Polarization in Theater Translation


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