Ekaterini Nikolarea (Bio)
of the Aegean
Creating a Bilingual Glossary
article in Greek]
English Language Teaching
EFL: English as a Foreign Language
ESL: English as a Second Language
ESP: English for Specific Purposes
SL: Source Language
TL: Target Language
paper addresses primarily translators (novice
and experienced) and language users (subject
specialists, teachers and learners for specific
purposes) without excluding other language
users such as communication specialists,
specialist lexicographers and terminologists
and any other researchers who move back
and forth between two, at least, languages
is about what and how to search for, compile,
build up, store and retrieve a personal
bilingual Terminological Data Bank (TDB).
paper is the fruit of four-year teaching
experience. For two years, I was teaching
various specialist courses in translation
theory and practice and supervising translation
projects - which included the compilation
of bilingual glossaries (English-Greek1
and Greek-English) at a private Institute
of Higher Education2.
For two years now, I have been teaching
English for Specific Purposes (ESP) at a
Greek State University3.
Gap to Fill in
paper is written to cover a gap that everybody
in Translation Studies refers to but nobody
has written about: a methodology for
a personal bilingual terminology compilation.
For so many years there has been so much
vague and general advice about 'what'
- that is, "a translator's most important
glossary will be the store of terminology
he has built up for himself" (Castellano
Rpt. 1985: 75) - but nothing on 'how.'
early as in 1990, Juan Sager poignantly
stated that "[T]here is no comparative description
available of the many different methods
used in the production of terminological
glossaries, dictionaries and term banks.
In fact, there is no single methodology
in Europe which can claim to be in regular
use as a model of terminology compilation.
In Canada a succession of manuals has been
published which are based on practical
experience and are being used for
actual terminology compilation" (Sager
1990: 219; emphasis mine). Unfortunately,
we are in the dawn of the new millenium
and yet to read a publication dealing either
with the what, the subject matter
that should be included in a terminology
compilation, or with the how, the
methodology for the creation and management
of a personal bilingual TDB. It is this
gap in Translation Studies, Terminology,
Lexicography and ESP that this article will
try to fill in.
and any other language users and the applicability
and usability of their final product.
STARTING POINT OF THIS STUDY will
be the practical experience or rather the
struggle as being experienced by:
translators who struggle with specialist
terms that they do not know or they cannot
find and thus being unable to render them
in the Target Language (TL);
learners (especially University students4)
who struggle to understand the basic concepts
of a specialist text written in English
but their hopes quickly vanish as there
are no bilingual specialist dictionaries
teachers who understand a specialist
text written in English, since they use
monolingual specialist glossaries, but have
difficulties in explaining difficult technical
terms to their non-English students; and
(University teachers) who - despite
having an excellent knowledge of the terminology
they use, this knowledge is mostly monolingual5
- struggle as much as the ESP teachers to
make some English specialist terms accessible
and understandable to their non-English
, and/or they struggle with their university
notes which themselves initially wrote in
English but they now have to render into
the official language of University by which
they are hired.
OBJECTIVE of this paper is to set
for a methodology of a personal bilingual
TDB whose end-product can be a dynamic
practical tool for its end-users in that
it can be stored, retrieved, modified and
enriched according to their needs. Inevitably,
this methodology will draw upon various
but its aim is a wider applicability
and usability - that is, to be as clearly
stated as possible - so that it can equally
be usable and useful for novice and experienced
translators, ESP University students and
teachers as well as specialists.
order to be widely applicable and usable,
this methodology is descriptive.
It describes various steps that the end-user
should take in order to create, manage and
maintain a personal bilingual TDB. Nevertheless,
it is prescriptive when establishing
certain CRITERIA to create a TDB.
OF A TERMINOLOGICAL DATA BANK (TDB)
One: Where and how to locate monolingual
and bilingual dictionaries.
you are new in a town or city and you are
interested in locating sources, do the following:
Find how many libraries there are in your
town. There can be: a Departmental Library,
a University Library, a local library, a
Municipal library, a Provincial library
(in Canada), a State library (in the USA),
a Public library and a National library.
Find their telephone numbers from the telephone
Call the libraries to find out their address(es).
You may find the information 1, 2 and 3
on the Internet.
Store all the information in your own paper
or electronic telephone directory.
Visit the library
Decide which library you will visit first.
Consult the paper or the electronic map
of the town to find your way there.
Ask for directions, if you feel uncertain
Get a sense of the library/ies
When you enter into a library, walk around
for a while in order to get a sense of it.
There are two kinds of libraries:
Those which don't allow access to their
shelves or, in other words, with no access
to the physicality of learning, reading
and teaching materials; and
Those which allow access to their shelves
or in other words, with access to the physicality
of learning, reading and teaching materials.
Libraries which do not allow access to their
You have to extract information about the
dictionary for which you are looking from
the library terminals or the card catalogues.
If you find the call number of the dictionary
for which you are looking, give it to the
librarian so that the librarian will bring
the dictionary to you.
If you do not find any information, ask
the librarian for help.
In the libraries in which you have no physical
access to the books and you have to use
a library terminal, you may encounter difficulties
not in following the instructions of using
the terminal but rather in finding the information.
If you have no bibliographical data (i.e.
the writer's name, the title of the dictionary),
do the following:
Search under 'Title.'
Type up as much specific information as
you can. For example, English Dictionary
(general monolingual), Dictionary of Geography
(specialist monolingual), Dictionary of
Physical Geography (specialist monolingual)
OR English-Greek Dictionary (general bilingual),
English-Greek Dictionary of Geology (specialist
bilingual) OR Multilingual Dictionary of
Chemistry (specialist multilingual)8
Libraries which do not allow access to their
shelves are usually big libraries and/or
libraries with antique acquisitions and
manuscripts. An example of this sort of
library is the National
Library of Greece in Athens.
Libraries whixh allow access to their shelves
You should know that different libraries
have different operational systems. In some
libraries, you may have access to the shelves
and thus to the books, videos, CDs, CD-ROMs.
An example of this sort of library is Boston
Public Library, in Boston, Mass (USA).
In some other libraries you can borrow books
but you have to stay in the library to watch
a video or to listen to a CD. The Library
of the British
Council in Athens, Greece, is one of
these libraries. Nevertheless, in most libraries,
you can borrow booksonly , whereas
audio-visual materials, if any, are accessible
and available only to the teaching
If you are in a library which allows access
to its shelves:
Find out whether there are any introductory
seminars on how the library works. If there
are register in order to attend them. If
not, ask a librarian for a tour.
Have a look around the library and try to
locate the dictionaries and glossaries in
which you are interested.
Dictionaries, glossaries, encyclopaedias
or thesauri are not usually lent and have
the indication REF (Reference) before
their call number. As a result, you may
try to locate them around the 'Information'
desk, in the 'Reference Section' or 'Reference
Room' or on the shelves that are usually
at the walls of the library (not on the
shelves in the rows). The last pattern is
rather discernible in Greek University and
Public libraries; e.g. in the Technical
University of Athens, University of the
Aegean and in the Public Library of Mytilene
Dictionaries, glossaries or encyclopaedias
may be lent either because there is a sufficient
number of copies or because their older
version is on the shelves. Newly acquired
dictionaries are usually in the 'Reference
Section.' Big university libraries, such
as the Rutherford
Library of the University of Alberta in
Edmonton (Alberta, Canada), do have this
policy. To find whether a particular library
has such a policy, ask the librarian. You
will save time and energy!
Two: How to find what you are looking for.
Fine! You have located all the dictionaries,
glossaries and encyclopaedias of the library
you are in. Now, it is time to get the best
out of them.
Get a list of (specialist) words, terms
or expressions with you in a physical or
paper form (i.e. sheets of paper, your personal
paper or electronic notebook) or in your
mind. You may also carry the text you are
reading with the unknown terms underlined.
Make sure that you have spelt correctly
(or you know the spelling of) the words
or terms, keeping an open eye to the slightly
different spelling you may encounter; for
example, sulfur (US use) and sulphur
Get some sheets of paper or your (paper
or electronic) notebook in order to note
down the unknown terms.
If you have not followed steps 1, 2 and
3, you have two choices.
- If you have never used before the
terminal of the specific library, follow
- If still you have problems, ask a
librarian for help.
Go to general dictionaries. Decide
what kind of general dictionary you open,
depending on your situation.
If you are working in a monolingual environment
which does not require a translation or
a rendering of the term, then search for
it in a monolingual dictionary; i.e.
English, Greek, French, Turkish etc.
If you are working in a monolingual environment
that requires a translation or a rendering
of the term, search for the term in a bilingual
dictionary, i.e. English-Greek or Greek-English,
depending on the directionality9
If you are working in a bilingual environment,
then it is imperative for you to know how
to find and how to use general and
specialist bilingual dictionaries,
i.e. English-Greek or Greek-English, depending
on the directionality.
Write down as many entries of the term you
can find. If you find just one or two entries,
try another general dictionary.
usually have more than one general monolingual
and bilingual dictionaries. However,
it depends on what language you are working
with and if this language is either used
or known where you live (a lesser-used language).
For example, if you are searching for a
general Finnish-Greek or Greek-Finnish dictionary
in a regional library in Greece, it is rather
unlikely to find it. Nevertheless, you can
still ask the librarian to be on the safe
Try to find specialist dictionaries
relevant to the terms for which you are
looking. Be prepared for three possible
You may find a specialist monolingual
dictionary which meets your requirements.
An English monolingual dictionary of Geography
(when your project is English monolingual).
A Greek monolingual dictionary of Sociology
(when your project is Greek monolingual)
Find the term and (photo)copy it.
b)You may find a specialist bilingual
dictionary of your field. For
example, you may find an English-Greek Dictionary
of Geology, whenyour focus is Greek monolingual.
Nevertheless, you have to transfer knowledge
from English into Greek. This knowledge
usually comes as textbooks, notes, web pages
or bibliographical references. The transfer
of knowledge may be:
A general understanding of the text (English)
and then an effort to summarise it in the
language of instruction (Greek). You usually
encounter this situation in a learning environment,
such as a school or a university, as well
as in professional environments, such as
(translation) agencies, offices, and businesses.
A general understanding of the text (English)
and then an effort to render or translate
it into the language of habitual use or
that of instruction (Greek). You usually
face this situation in either an academic
environment, when quoting a passage in your
essay or article, or in a professional environment,
when working as a translator.
If there are more than one specialist
bilingual dictionaries of the same field
in the same library, then find them and
(photo)copy the required terms.
You cannot find a specialist bilingual
dictionary of the field in which you are
working. What do you do, when you
have to transfer the knowledge acquired
in English from English into Greek, as described
in 2.2., 3 b, 1 and 210
In order to overcome the problem that arises
from the third scenario, you may consider
the 'Advanced Search' that requires lateral
thinking and productive reasoning. Initially,
you may find this process time-consuming
and tiresome. Once you get used to them
though, it becomes a standard routine.
Stage One: Relevant Specialist Bilingual
(or Multilingual) Dictionaries
Try to find specialist bilingual
dictionaries which are as close to your
field as possible. For example, if the term
you are looking for is derived from GIS
(Geographical Informational Systems), Spatial
Statistics or Cartography, then the most
relevant specialist bilingual dictionaries
- Either look up your terms in general
and specialist dictionaries
- Or leave the library, go back home
or to your office and follow steps 1,
2 and 3.
Find the term and write down as many entries
of it as you can find.
At the end of each entry you may put into
parentheses or brackets an abbreviation
of the field in which this term is used;
e.g. (COMP) for Computer Science or (MATH)
for Mathematics. This abbreviation or these
abbreviations will help you in organising
your TDB when you are at home without being
surrounded by any dictionaries.
If the specialist bilingual (or multilingual)
dictionary is not organised in an alphabetical
order, go to the 'Introduction,' 'Preface'
or 'Forward' and read through how this dictionary
is organised. Then follow the instructions.
If the dictionary is organised in SUBJECTS
(in a 'Thesaurus' form), then go to the
Index at the end of the dictionary. If there
is no entry of the term in the Index, it
signifies that you will not find the term
for which you are looking in the particular
Stage Two: Further Research
If you still cannot find the term do a more
Search for books related to your sub-field.
If these books are translations or renderings
of English books, they may have a bilingual
(English->Greek) dictionary or glossary
at the end. At least, this policy is practised
by a good number of Greek publishing houses
which specialize in technical publications;
for example the information technology books
published by Giourdas Publications (Γκιούρδας).
Certain publishing houses in your home country
may do the same.
Monolingual books, which are originally
written in the language of your habitual
use or that of instruction or your mother
tongue may give you the rendering of the
term as long as you know how to search for
it. Look for a key word either in the 'Table
of Contents' or the 'Index'. If you find
the key word, go to the respective page
or chapter and skim the paragraph or the
page in order to see whether the term you
find in the book is the term you are looking
An Alternative Course of Action
If you are in haste, a novice translator
or inexperienced in your specialty subject
field, skip Stage Two (2.3.2.), because
you may run the risk of being overwhelmed,
and take another course of action. Go to
your office and:
Check for the term you cannot find in general
and specialist bilingual dictionaries
in CD-ROMs you may own.
Search on the Internet12.
If you find the term, write it down.
If you still cannot find the term, then
ask other translators, subject specialists
The 'Advanced Search' can also be done
in exclusively monolingual environments.
You can find difficult terms, which you
may not be able to find them in a general
or specialist monolingual dictionary,
if you follow the same basic methodology
as described in 2.2. 3c and 2.3.1.-2.2.3.
Although there are instructions how to search
for bilingual dictionaries (see 2.2.3.),
the same methodology is applicable to the
search for monolingual dictionaries.
FOR AND METHODOLOGY OF CREATING A TDB
Three: How to organise and where to store
the relevant information
After you have spent some time in the library(ies),
you must have got a good number of entries
of several unknown words and terms by now.
What else you may need is to go home or
somewhere that you have access to a personal
computer (PC). In this phase of compiling,
organising and storing your TDB, you need
a PC, critical thinking and discriminatory
(comparative and contrastive, to a certain
degree) skills at a later stage.
You need a PC because the TDB you
are going to organise will be in an electronic
form. Thus, the assumption is that you know
the very basics of word processing.
You need to exercise your CRITICAL THINKING
to establish some basic criteria before
even you start typing up and organising
your electronic TDB. Below, some basic criteria
for creating a TDB are described for you,
the underlying philosophy of which is taken
from Translation Studies, Terminology and
FOR THE CREATION OF A TDB:
Write your TDB and the entries in clear
and simple language so that even difficult
or unfamiliar words are easily understandable.
If you use abbreviations of any sort, make
sure that you will write them with an explanation
of what they signify. Explanations of abbreviations
are 'friendly reminders' to your memory
when you do not work on your TDB regularly
and help you have a consistency in your
whole document. These explanations will
also help possible readers of your TDB.
Incorporate any other details in your TDB
in such a way that virtually anybody can
understand and utilise them.
It is absolutely essential that whenever
you want to make a revision of your TDB,
you should be able to do it immediately
and without any difficulty.
To make alterations to your TDB immediately
and without any difficulty, you must create
an easily retrievable and manageable TDB.
You have spent substantial amount of time
in searching, finding and writing down vocabulary
and definitions of terms that you do not
know. You may have managed to nose out definitions
of terms applying the 'Advanced Search'
methodology, as described earlier. Thus,
you must never have to do the same terminological
search twice. Definitions of a term may
change or may become obsolete, due to changes
in a scientific field or the passage of
time, but then what you simply do is to
make the necessary alterations to your data.
Since you are creating a TDB that is for
your own use, then you may insert any general
vocabulary you may find difficult or troublesome
with scientific terminology in whatever
format you choose to store it.
In the following paragraphs, certain steps
are described to organising and storing
a TDB, you are provided with examples from
EFL/ESP University students' and a professional
translator's files. Students' experience
as well as professional translators' practice
have shown that organising a TDB in alphabetical
order in a (Microsoft) Word document is
the easiest and the most flexible way to
organise, store and handle a TDB in short
and long term. Nevertheless, if you want
to use other software systems such as Excel
or Access, you can do it provided that you
know how to use it.
You need to exercise your DISCRIMINATORY
SKILLS or, as otherwise called, COMPARATIVE
and CONTRASTIVE SKILLS, when you
are ready to edit your TDB. If you follow
the instructions discussed in 3.1., 7. ('Editing
your TEXT or TABLE) below, you can use this
kind of skills you are bestowed with. It
takes knowledge and practice to develop
these skills, and there is no reason why
you or any other person, whose faculties
and senses are not impaired not to be able
to do it.
Turn on the PC.
Open My Computer.
Create a Folder in My Documents and name
it as you wish; e.g. TDB.
Create a File and 'Save it As' you wish;
e.g. GIS (: Geographical Information Systems).
COMMENT: Do not worry about the naming
of the Folder and the File. If you want
to change it, you can do it whenever you
wish or during Phase Four, which
we will discuss in much detail below.
the information you have as a TEXT.
Type up all the information you have gathered
up to now.
Type up the word, the headword or the term13
Use colon (:) or 'equals to' (=) after the
up the definition or definitions you have
found for this term under one main entry.
If the term has got more than one definitions
do the following:
the definitions are simple individual words,
separate them with a comma (,), a semi-colon
(;) or number them using comma (,) or a
full stop (.) in the end of each word; e.g.
(1)... , (2)... , OR (1) ... . (2)... .
When you finish inserting all the definitions
of one term, press ENTER once to start typing
up the next headword you have in your list.
An example of this case you can see in Figure
Do not worry about the alphabetical
order of the terms. Your word processing
application can sort them for you; see 3.1.,7.
- A dictionary of Mathematics (or Advanced
- A Computer dictionary;
- A dictionary of Statistics;
- A dictionary of Engineering (e.g.
Mechanical, Electrical Engineering etc.).
1: A bilingual TDB compiled by
If your definitions come with an explanation
or a longer text that explicates a difficult
term, separate the different definitions
by numbering them; e.g. (1)... . (2)...
. You may also want to open a parenthesis
in the end of each definition and use an
abbreviated form of the specialty or the
specialties this definition is used in UPPER
CASE. This can be done equally in a monolingual
and a bilingual TDB; e.g. grid: ... (GIS)
[a monolingual TDB]; grid: ... (ΣΓΠ) [a
bilingual (English: Greek) TDB].
2: A specialist bilingual dictionary
by Ekaterini Nikolarea15.
of 3.1., 5. c, 2 are the highlighted terms
in Figure 2. If you see 'Graphic
representation,' the same expression is
used in English for a variety of fields,
such as Computer Science, Cartography, Mathematics
and Statistics, whereas a different expression
is used in Greek for Computer Science (ΠΛΗΡΟΦ)
and Cartography (ΧΑΡΤ) [see (1)], and another
for Mathematics (ΜΑΘ) and Statistics (ΣΤΑΤ)
REMINDER: If you do this, do not forget
to write a list of Abbreviations in the
beginning of your TDB so to remember which
abbreviation stands for which field or sub-field.
If now the same term has the same definition
but this definition is explicated differently
in different specialties, then you:
- Write the definition;
- Add a full stop (.)
- Write in small letters Source Language
(SL) or Target Language (TL)16
in parentheses (a) ... . (b) ... . OR
(α) ... . (β) ... .
- After (a) or (α) and (b) or (β), explain
further the term in the particular field.
- Specify the specialty or the specialties
this definition is used in an abbreviated
form in UPPER CASE; e.g. (ΣΓΠ) [: GIS:
Geographical Information Systems].
3: A specialist bilingual dictionary
by Ekaterini Nikolarea.
COMMENT: Case 3.1., 5. c. 3 is more
complex and advanced than that of 3.1.,
5. c. 2 and you may wish to avoid it. Nevertheless,
as translators and language users, you know
that, working in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary
fields, you will soon encounter a wide spectrum
of meanings of one and the same scientific
word, such as Syntax or Table.
Case 3.1., 5. c. 3 is one of the instances
in which the polysemy of language
is fully manifested in scientific language
Upon completing the entry, press ENTER once
to move to the next line and start typing
up another entry.
SUGGESTION: Do not press ENTER twice
after the end of each entry. You can do
that only when you finish the editing
of your text (see below) and you wish to
present it in a nice way. If you do press
ENTER twice after the end of each entry,
when you sort your text, all the extra space
will jump into the very beginning of your
Insert the information in a TABLE
a table with two columns and five rows.
You can add more rows as you advance in
Type up the English headword in the left
column and use colon (:) or 'equals to'
(=) after it.
Type up all the definitions in the right
column, following the steps as described
in 3.1., 5. 1-4.
COMMENT: Although a tabled TDB offers
a nice presentation to small texts, it becomes
impractical and cumbersome when/if you may
have to write long texts in the right column.
Editing your TEXT or TABLE.
Sorting the terms of the TDB
Select all your text.
Go to Menu File.
Click on the Table.
Go down to Sort and click once.
A dialog box appears on your monitor.
Wait for a while. The program is sorting
Your TDB appears in alphabetical order.
example, if you type up the term 'Emergency'
and, by mistake, you type the letter E
in Greek (which looks the same as the English
E), you should change the letter
from Greek into English. If you do not make
this change, when you sort your TDB, the
term and its definition will appear in the
very end of your TDB. This occurs because
in a TDB whose terms are primarily in English
there is a hierarchy in sorting: first English,
second Greek terms, then any mathematical
symbols etc. Nevertheless, in a TDB with
a reverse directionality (Greek->English),
the hierarchy in sorting is the reverse;
first Greek and then English terms, then
any mathematical symbols etc.
Making terms stand out
In the TDB as a TABLE
In this kind of TDB, terms stand out because
they are in situated in the left column
of the table. Thus, either do nothing or
follow the steps described in 7. 2, b below.
In the TDB as a TEXT
In this sort of TDB, there are several simple
ways to make the terms of your TDB stand
You may add a manual line break by pressing
ENTER twice; see Figure 1.
You may italicise, underline
or make them bold. Figure 4
is an example of how terms stand out by
being italicised (a TDB by Athina
Kehaya). Figure 5 is an example of
using bold face. In this figure,
terms stand out even more as a line break
follows each term (from Nikoleta Karali's
TDB). Finally, in Figure 6, (by the
student Alexandros Nassiadis18),
the terms stand out because they are underlined.
There is, however, another way to make the
terms of your TDB stand out: this is how
most dictionaries, glossaries or thesauri
are laid out. You can type up the term in
bold face and slightly indent the
text; see Figures 2 and 3.
This, however, does not exclude other possibilities,
such as the TDB in Figure 6.
of 3.1., 5. c, 3 are the highlighted
words in Figure 3. The highlighted
words are Syntax and Table.
Whereas the Greek equivalent for both
terms is one definition (one and the
same word), the meaning changes according
to the field it is used. On the one
hand, Syntax is 'syntax' as we
understand it in grammar (ΓΡΑΜ) and
linguistics. Nevertheless, Syntax
it is also used to denote the method
('syntax') according to which (mathematical)
functions are written in Computer Science
(ΠΛΗΡΟΦ) and in Visual Basic (VISUAL).
On the other hand, Table,
besides its general mathematical
meaning, also holds the meaning of 'the
basic mechanism of storing data in a
data base, which consists of tables
and sequences of information.' The latter
meaning is primarily used in Computer
Science (ΠΛΗΡΟΦ), Visual Basic (VISUAL)
and in computer-related fields, such
as Geographical Information Systems
(GIS: ΣΓΠ), Remote Sensing (ΤΗΛΕΠ),
Photogrammetry (ΦΤΓΡΑΜ), Cartography
(ΧΑΡΤ) and Spatial Statistics (ΧΩΡΑΝΑΛ)17.
4: A bilingual TDB by Athina
© Copyright 2003 Translatum Journal
and the Author