Our first entry to be tested was the Romanian criminal (criminal) in the
Romanian–English dictionaries. All in all we found 70 entries, out of which 28
occurrences were single-word terms (criminal) in Romanian with the following
translations: assassin, blameworthy, convict, criminal, criminally, evildoer, felon,
felonious, guilty of crime, gunman, homicidal, homicide, killer, malefactor, man-
killer, murderer, murderess, murderous, offender, outlaw, outrageous, penal,
perpetrator, person who commissions a crime, principal to a crime, serious
criminal, slayer, violent criminal. The list contained further 42 terms with combined
words in Romanian containing criminal (e.g. criminal în serie – serial killer).
Then the Romanian term criminal (single-word entry and compounds
containing it) was searched for online, in the database of hallo.ro (600,000
definitions). All in all, 52 matches were found, out of which 29 occurrences were
single-word terms in Romanian with the following translations: assassin, crimeful,
criminal, desperado, flagitious, homicidal, homicide, iniquitous, internecine,
malefactor, miscreant, murderer, murderous, offender, outlaw, outrageous,
perpetrator, slayer, tiger, wrong, sinister, con, hoodlum, lag, perp, tough, felonious,
felon, wrongdoer. Five of them are used in informal language (starting with con),
whereas the last three are specified as belonging to legal terms. Further 23
expressions contain the Romanian criminal (e.g. criminal condamnat la
spânzurătoare – gallows bird) and almost half of them belong to informal language
The results speak for themselves, offering many possible interpretations. An
obvious one is that the combination of more than a dozen printed dictionaries is much
more valuable than one of the ‘best’ (richest) online dictionary / database. However, if
we were to combine more online sources, the collection could easily outnumber the
results in the printed dictionaries. A further observation is that the online source
contains many informal terms, being much closer to spoken English. Single-word
entries are easy to compare: 14 English entries out of 28 (dictionaries) and 29
(hallo.ro) match, highlighted in bold, deriving from the Romanian criminal. As
predicted, none of the English slang terms for the Romanian criminal could be found
in the dictionaries. A more interesting fact is that dictionaries contain overwhelmingly
much more expressions with criminal, even though the online database offers valuable
terms as well (bring a criminal to justice, mug, moll, eel, etc.).
Yet, this is still only one side of the coin, as a different entry will lead to a
completely different outcome. For instance, the Romanian prostituată
has only five occurrences in the dictionaries, whereas hallo.ro lists 47 (!) possible
translations (all the five from the dictionaries are among them), and there are five
more expressions containing the entry. 33 English translations are labelled as
belonging to informal language.
This is the official term listed in the Romanian Explanatory Dictionary and used in Romanian case
files as well.
The future of dictionaries and term bases
The above cases demonstrate that if we think professionally it is worth combining
the printed dictionary results with the online dictionaries / term bases. However, the
tendency is to transform printed dictionaries fully online, enabling further
enhancements: updates (extra information, additions, deletions or corrections), and
possibly with extra filtering possibilities. The larger the database, the more filtering
options are welcome, detailed below.
Users may need to know subtle differences between United Kingdom or
United States spelling, select archaic / obsolete forms, Latin expressions,
grammatical categories, (stock) phrases, even full sentences (some printed
dictionaries already contain a few full sentences deriving from phrases), or even to
list all the entries beginning with a particular letter. This way the online dictionary
will be suitable for the expectations of professional users in the 21
The largest publishing houses already have online mono- or bilingual
), taking advantage of the fact that
they are well-known names in the field, but the concept of going online (and mainly
free of charge) signals something really important. Marshall McLuhan’s global
village not only expanded into the notorious globalization and localization
pervading our McWorld, but also we are faced with the fact that languages (in all
combinations) are turning into public domain. A clear example is the EU’s term base
focusing on legal terms as they recognized that the establishment is financed by the
community. Another example, the Romanian Explanatory Dictionary available
online at dex.ro is priceless, similarly to its English counterparts mentioned above,
containing new and old (archaic), formal and informal (slang, argou), bookish
(livresc), rare (rar) terms and provincialisms (popular).
As for dictionaries, alphabetical order may be a drawback. In the case of
expressions the rule of alphabetical order does not apply, so we are faced with a
limited searchability (clusters of words / expressions bunching from the main entry).
The custom is to cluster entries around a headword, which seems to be subjective, at
least to a certain extent. When faced with a multiple word term, the dictionary
compiler has to make a choice where to place the following expressions. So nu
suferă nici o amânare (allows no delay) may be under S or A (negative forms should
be disregarded), but bani fără acoperire emişi în situaţii de urgenţă (fiat money) is
more complicated to position under B, A, E, S, or U.
On the other hand, online dictionaries and TBs have often been criticized
based on users’ experience, who must have been right due to various reasons. Many
online sources used to be very unreliable, but once machine translation is constantly
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/, 14. 08. 2015.
http://www.oed.com/, 14. 08. 2015.
http://www.macmillandictionary.com/, 14. 08. 2015.
improving, all online sources are getting better and better since the appearance of
term extracting software. In fact CAT-tools (e.g. memoQ) have this feature with
various settings: maximum length words, minimum frequency, sources, etc.
Term bases usually do not contain explanatory remarks or grammatical
categories with examples, only terms in strict alphabetical order (even to the
detriment of important information, such as US / UK spelling. Similarly, they do not
include the long infinitive to particle, they hardly ever have definite or indefinite
articles preceding nouns, and the creators of a TB are not happy to enter certain
types of expressions, such as the Romanian reflexive or phrases (a se plânge – to
complain, a-şi executa pedeapsa - do penance, a fi blestemat – be cursed, a-şi da
sufletul - give up one's ghost). In these cases the ‘best option scenario’ will indicate
that the reflexive construction should be disregarded for the sake of searchability,
and the expression should be placed alphabetically under the first word’s initial
(executa pedeapsa). Thus, for the time being, hallo.ro cannot be considered a
dictionary as it does not offer a strict alphabetical order: the proof is that there is no
difference between soţie and şotie when one of these terms is searched for.
indicates that the online source is based on the English alphabetical order, which
cannot differentiate language specific diacritical marks, only strings of characters.
However, this will surely improve in the near future, as it is possible. For instance,
once Romanian is selected as the editing language in Microsoft Office Excel, we will
obtain a correct alphabetical order in Romanian, but if the English spell-checker is
activated, we will have a similar alphabetical order to hallo.ro.
At this stage we can state again that the combination of printed dictionaries
with online dictionaries and TBs opens up multiple possibilities, offering enhanced
productivity and quality assurance. It is not acceptable any more to say that online
terms are not trustworthy, as large explanatory dictionaries are few clicks away, thus
‘cross examination’ of a notion, concept or term is very simple. Search engines offer
valuable statistics regarding the number of occurrences, and – for instance – Google
can compare keywords (if we have doubts regarding the spelling or
popularity of synonyms). As a result, the best option (term) is secured by a thorough
inquiry in various databases. Malicious remarks are often based on the absence of a
particular term in a dictionary or online source, or the presence of marginal entries.
As the number of words and terms is unlimited, no dictionary or online source will
ever contain all the (relevant) entries, and we are sure that many legal terms are still
missing from the EU’s term base as well. Linguists and experts (lawyers, attorneys,
solicitors, barristers, counsellors, pleasers, proctors, jurists, etc.) may dedicate their
lives to create the ultimate TB or dictionary, which is a never-ending story of term
html, 15. 08. 2015.
http://hallo.ro/search.do?d=en&l=ro&type=both&query=so%C5%A3ie, 15. 08. 2015.
http://www.googlefight.com/, 17. 09. 2015.
The future of dictionaries and term bases
hunting to exclude irrelevant entries and add new(er) and inventive ones. Translation
techniques, such as pure or naturalized borrowings, calques (Molina and Hurtado
Albir 2002, 510), Klaudy’s (2003, 272–281) antonymous translations (e.g. la
vecinătate – not far from in Lozinschi 2008, 315) will always provide a fertile soil
The research presented in this paper was supported by the European Social Fund
under the responsibility of the Managing Authority for the Sectoral Operational
Programme for Human Resources Development (Sistem integrat de îmbunătă
ii cercetării doctorale
i postdoctorale din România
i de promovare a rolului
ei în societate), as part of the grant POSDRU/159/1.5/S/133652.
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