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Surrey University - MA in Translation

Review: The Chrissovitsiotis- Stavrakopoulos " Dictionary of Trade, Banking and Financial Terms"

1. Introduction

A bilingual terminological dictionary may be a great assistance to the translator, if he is familiar with the correct use, namely the subject field or the cross-checking in background texts. However, the terminologist should as well always be conscious of the translator's needs, i.e. bear in mind that his piece of work should be well-organised, consistent between En/Gr and Gr/En sections, include acronyms and standardised terms and provide the translator with relevant and reliable information. Under these criteria and combining where necessary and inevitable the discipline of terminology with that of lexicology I shall evaluate "The English-Greek, Greek-English Dictionary of Trade, Banking and Financial Terminology", compiled by Chrissovitsiotis and Stayrakopoulos in 1966 and last revised in 1995, by considering the overall- and entry-organisation, focusing initially on its negative and then on its positive aspects.

2. Overall Term Organisation

Since this is a dictionary for terminology, and not a glossary or thesaurus it can be observed that the 32.000 entries it contains are organised on a strictly alphabetical basis, i.e. the term account is followed alphabetically by the lemmas accountability, accountable... and further down it harks back to account activity, account analysis, etc. In the section For the Convenience of the Readership the overall layout and terminological organisation is being laconically explained as well as the abbreviations used within the dictionary.

3. Terminological Evaluation

a. Shortcomings:

The difference between helpful and not-helpful terminology entry is that the helpful one gives "extra" information that help the translator, whereas the bad one contents itself with simply giving definitions. In this terminology dictionary not all entries are thoroughly defined in regard to the domain they can be used in, namely the dictionary seems to make no distinction between homonyms and polysemes. For instance the term financial [=οικονομικός, χρηματοοικονομικός, χρηματιστικός, χρηματικός] is being translated from English into Greek from the commercial point of view, as well as from the angle of stock exchange and investment, i.e. the lemmas that have been given as a translation of the term financial are not synonyms but polysemes. Nevertheless, the subject-filed has not been indicated in each case, i.e. "relationship between domains has not been clarified" (Picht and Draskau 1985:129), so as to prevent the translator of having to guess which of the selection of target language terms is suitable. This can be time-consuming, as the translator has to do further research in background texts or additional dictionaries.

Again, in reference with financial the term has not been analysed carefully as no mention was made of one additional meaning of the term, which is δημοσιονομικός although it exists in the back-translation when looking it up at the Gr-En section.

This demonstrates that the dictionary is not always consistent and affirms the initial impression of lack of consistency and completeness the user gets, when he discovers that the dictionary he holds in his hands comprises 882 pages of English into Greek-terms and only 183 pages of Greek to English-terms. In addition, in the aforesaid 183 pages of Greek to English-terms irrelevant terms to trade, banking and financial terminology are compiled, such as μπανάνα [=banana], φελλός [= cork] and μουσακάς [=mousaka], that betray that in this section precious space was wasted for information of poor quality, as the compilers of this dictionary claim that it is a specialised dictionary and not a general dictionary.

In the following paragraph it would be appropriate to cite one entry that illustrates the deficient - in some cases - term organisation. While the dictionary has compiled other significant information within the cultures involved, i.e. the Greek, English and American culture, by including the translation of all Greek ministries and other Greek, English and American institutions, like for instance notary public, Bureau of the Budget, Barron's, big four, Big Five, building society etc., it came up while looking for the very commonly used term Lord Chancellor, that under chancellor... only the chancellor of the exchequer is to be found, and that the term Lord Chancellor did not exist. This consists naturally a terminological shortcoming. Browsing further to find something related to the term on debate it came up that it is classified under the term chancery. Again, this means loss of time for the dictionary-user, who has to look up related terms in order to find the one he needs. It also means inconsistency of the dictionary, since a term that cannot be easily located within the dictionary speaks firstly for its terminological shortcoming and eventually for the lexicographical one, as when it is "misplaced" it is as if it does not exist at all.

As far as the terminological shortcoming, one more comment is to be made in reference with the term or acronym European Central Bank / ECB as well as National Bank of Greece / NBG, which does not exist neither as a term nor as an acronym. It is surprising that terms as important and basic as these were not included when compiling the dictionary, taking especially into account that the compilers are bankers themselves...

In addition to the evaluation of the acronym organisation a weakness to the quality of the information provided is to be indicated. While looking up for the standardised acronym ISO, it emerged that it has been incorrectly defined as International Standards Organisation and not correctly as the International Organisation for Standardisation, as it was checked up on the site of ISO in the World Wide Web.

In connection with the acronyms, an organisational comment on their ease of usage is to be made. While a plethora of very useful acronyms has been compiled within the dictionary that may consist great help to the translator, no regard was given to accumulate all acronyms in a separate list at the end or the beginning of the dictionary, which would have been extremely time-saving for the user of this dictionary. It may be admitted that it is helpful to see if there are other terms which include the same or similar words as the acronyms. Nevertheless, the same information could also be given in an Acronym Section.

While browsing the dictionary to find a term in relation to the European Union Funds, one additional deficiency came up as the searched term deficit financing did not exist, as well as another very common used commercial term like outsourcing. The dictionary proved to be dated as these are relatively new terms, which were obviously not included while it was last revised in 1995. This creates the user the impression that the dictionary is not reliable as the quality of terminological information it provides to the non-specialist user is not always of high standards.

Speaking of high standard terminological information it would be interesting to mention that this dictionary provides in some term-entries very helpful information to the non-expert user, as it provides assistance to interpret the term, but it does not provide all actual equivalent terms in the target language. To rest this opinion on proof the following examples are given:

logistics. 1. Στη διοικητική, η επιστήμη σχεδιασμού, οργάνωσης και ρύθμισης του πλέον εφικτού συνδυασμού των διαφόρων παραγόντων (περιοχή, χώροι, προσωπικό, χρόνος) για την υλοποίηση των στόχων, της πολιτικής και των διαδικασιών. (Term?) 2. Διοικητική μέριμνα, επιμελητεία στρατού κλπ.

operations management. Διεύθυνση που ασχολείται με το σχεδιασμό, τη λειτουργία και τον έλεγχο συστημάτων οργανώσεως. Καθορίζει τη ροή των εργασιών, τον προγραμματισμό της παραγωγής , τις προδιαγραφές και τις διαδικασίες αγοράς υλικών, ελέγχου αποθεμάτων και ποιοτικού ελέγχου. (Term?)

Furthermore, there is a considerable number of entries, at the end of which, cross-references are given i.e.

other income=Βλ.non-operating income, other name=Συνών. του street n., other real estate=Βλ. Owned real estate, etc.

It is a plus for the dictionary that it contains those specialised terms but the way they are presented is not helpful from a lexicological point of view. The translator is at this point advised to check out further information under related entries. In a strict alphabetical dictionary, as this is, the procedure is simple in contradiction to a glossary or a thesaurus. Yet, this requires great loss of time, which is most often extremely valuable to the translator, as the dictionary-user is requested to browse again so as to find the referred term. In the mean time, while skipping one term to find another, there is a danger that the translator loses his train of thoughts and thus more time.

b. Virtues:

In spite of the above mentioned plethora of shortcomings in "The English-Greek, Greek-English Dictionary of Trade, Banking and Financial Terminology", its layout is user-friendly, with the terms being presented with emboldened fonts. Aside from this, the numeration of polysemous concepts within each particular concept system provides a very helpful systematic organisation. For example:

manual. 1. χειροποίητος, χειροκίνητος, χειρονακτικός. 2. Φυλλάδιο, βιβλίο ή εγχειρίδιο που επεξηγεί τον τρόπο λειτουργίας μηχανήματος, κτλ. [...] 3. Βιβλίο ή κατάλογος με διάφορα είδη και τις αντίστοιχες τιμές. etc.

Furthermore, the dictionary is relatively convenient for the non-expert user as it provides analytical definitions of the terms and lists equivalents and synonyms. The definitions are sufficiently short and concise and the language used is easily understandable by a non-expert, in contrast to other dictionaries in its category. For example:

base drift: Παρέκκλιση, απόκλιση βάσης. Απόκλιση της προσφοράς χρήματος από τη βάση (νομισματικό στόχο) που καθόρισε η κεντρική τράπεζα.

Barometer stock: (Χρηματιστ.) Μετοχές βαρόμετρο. Όρος για μετοχές μιας οικονομικώς ισχυρής επιχειρήσεως, η διακύμανση των οποίων αντικατοπτρίζει τις γενικές συνθήκες της αγοράς. etc.

In addition, a very helpful fact, which relieves the user of aimless and unnecessary browsing is that after each definition of a superordinate concept other collocations in connection with the term are being given:

capital. κεφάλαιο [...], · active c. · authorized c. · circulating c. · current c. · equity c. · fixed c. · floating c. · gross working c. · invested c. · long term c. · nominal c. [...]

bank account. [...],· check a. · checking a. · current a. · deposit a. · overdraft a. · savings a. etc.

While using the dictionary one more advantage came up. The dictionary has compiled besides terms also jargon phrases and expressions, which can be a real headache for the translator who is not a subject-expert. As jargon is a continually changing language and thus jargon-glossaries and -dictionaries are scarcely few, any help to this problem is considered valuable. Equally valuable in such cases are examples that elucidate the meaning of the phrases:

I O U. Φωνητικός τύπος της φράσης I owe you. Συνήθως έχει τη μορφή:

Mr. J. Backer Athens 1/12/91

I. O. U. $ 2000

(two thousand dollars)

(υπογραφή) J. Fox [...]

Finally, one additional positive remark would be that the compilers of the dictionary are very consistent as far as the terms country of use is concerned, i.e. it specifies in which country the term is applied and gives the equivalents in other countries when possible:

Building society. (Αγγλία, Αυστραλία) Εταιρεία κτηματικής πίστης. [...] Αντίστοιχη του Savings and Loan Ass. στις ΗΠΑ.

bindle stiff. (ΗΠΑ) Όρος της καθομιλουμένης για εποχιακούς εργάτες [...]

Blue Book. (Αγγλία) Ανεπίσημη ονομασία της ετήσιας έκδοσης του National Income and Expenditure [...]

4. Conclusions - Suggestions

As Picht and Draskau say (1990:123), "dictionaries are designed to be tools for the translator", however, they can turn out to be a very dangerous tool. The dictionary under research does not wholly stand up to the quality expected in it, in regard to the good reputation it exhibits in the Greek dictionary-market. Yet, regarding the trust placed on the dictionary, the fact that there is a lack of more trustworthy dictionaries on the specific field of trade, banking and financial terminology must be taken into account.

The lack of expository instructions on terms that can be used in similar, yet different fields, i.e. domains, as well as the quandary the translator has to overcome in those situations, constitute a real shortcoming of this dictionary. Also, the internal incoherence and inconsistency is some parts, is another thing that detracts from its good reputation.

Nevertheless, it would be fair to say that the English-Greek, Greek-English Dictionary of Trade, Banking and Financial Terminology, compiled by Chrissovitsiotis and Stayrakopoulos, offers encyclopaedic information in most entries that is precious to the non-expert translator. It is oftentimes essential for the Greek translator to delve into concepts and completely understand them i.e. interpret them before translating them. Thus, improvement could be made by ensuring that the inconsistencies are eliminated and that the translator is fully aware of which is the relevant equivalent for each particular sub-domain. Yet, as it falls down in doing the same thing in the Greek-English section, it would be apposite to recommend either to effectively review this section of the dictionary or simply - drastic as it may sound - abstract it, since it is one of the main reasons that render it unreliable. It has also been noted that the criterion of the ease of use is not fulfilled in regard to the plethora of the cross-references given. Although they can also be a great help for the translator in order to delve into a concept, for as much as they are not well organised a lot time will be wasted.

Yet, it should also be noted, that where culturally specific terms or jargon are involved, the dictionary is very reliable for translation purposes. Furthermore, in order to facilitate the speed of browsing for an acronym it would be a good idea to confine them to a separate list. Apart from this, one more recommendation of indicating terms which are standard would augment the dictionary's validity. Hence the translator would not waste any effort to affirm the term's accuracy.

Lastly, the dictionary of Chrissovitsiotis and Stayrakopoulos is from the translators aspect, despite the weaknesses and discrepancies above outlined, a utilitarian tool, and some improvements would render it one of the best bilingual special language dictionaries in the dictionary market of Greece.

6. References

Picht, H., Draskau, J., (1985) Terminology: An Introduction, Guildford: University of Surrey, England

Rey, A., (1995) Essays on Terminology, J. C. Sager, translator and editor, Amsterdam/Filadelfia: John Benjamins

Rogers, M., (2001-2002) Booklet for the Terminology Course, Postgraduate Diploma/MA in Translation, University of Surrey, England

Wright, S.-E., Budin, G., (eds) (1997) Handbook of Terminology Management, Vol.1, Amsterdam/Filadelfia: John Benjamins

Internet source:


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