Saturday, February 9, 2013

Native Lexicographers (2)

The flourishing of Native Lexicographers is even more marked in the area of specialised technical dictionaries. Here are a few examples. Canadian financial translators all know ‘Le Sylvain’, Dictionnaire de la comptabilité, whose lexicographer, Fernand Sylvain, was a chartered accountant. French legal translators know the Dictionnaire juridique français allemand and Dictionnaire juridique français anglais (‘Le Quemner‘) by Thomas Quemner, a lawyer. Others still use 'Le Ginguay', a pioneer French/English dictionary of computing whose author was a translator at IBM and which has been through 14 editions since the first one in 1970:
“Ce travail d'envergure a contribué à l'implantation d'un vocabulaire français dans un domaine particulièrement vulnérable à l'anglicisation." (This important work has helped gain acceptance for a truly French vocabulary in a field that is particularly open to Anglicisms.)
Further afield both in place and time, one of the earliest English-Japanese dictionaries was produced in the late 19th century by a British diplomatic interpreter, Ernest Satow (the same Satow as in the previous post) and a Japanese informant, an official at the Japanese Foreign Ministry; then revised by two other British consular officials, and dusted off and reissued in 1943 for use by Americans in the Second World War (see References).

It seems to go like this. Somebody who’s a practitioner in a specialised field and is faced with having to do translations finds that the existing dictionaries for that field are inadequate and decides to work on a better one as a sideline to their main professional work, for the general benefit. Their dictionaries are usually one-off enterprises, though they may go through several editions; and they tend more to the simple paired word list than the more expert products.

The Native Lexicographers are not necessarily such luminaries as the ones mentioned above. Here's an example that not only makes this point but shows how dictionaries are no longer limited to words:
Allyson Hayes
"An overwhelming majority of the parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing are not fluent in American Sign Language, reflecting a communication disconnect that could be critical in a medical emergency. Now, a simple pamphlet created by University of Delaware nursing student Allyson Hayes is available to help these children tell their caregivers how they’re feeling.
"Hayes wrote some brief explanatory text and collected images of signs for nine symptoms—including cough, itchy, temperature, nausea and dizzy—as well as seven terms connected with hospitals, such as nurse, doctor, emergency, medicine and allergy.
"The resulting brochure, Important Signs for You and Your Child, was sent home to parents of children attending the school, but it also caught the attention of a school administrator, and plans have since been made for it to be used by Delaware’s Statewide Programs for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf Blind Services.
“Allyson has made a great impact in her accurate assessment of the needs of the deaf population and created a visually pleasing and accurate brochure that will stay in use with this population,”
There's a brief video about it here.

  • Fernand Sylvain C.A., et al. Dictionnaire de la comptabilité et des disciplines connexes. Toronto, etc.: Institut canadien des comptables agréés, 1977. There's a digitised copy here if you have the software to open it.
  • Thomas A. Quemner, licencié en droit (Bachelor of Laws). Dictionnaire Juridique Français-Anglais: Droit, Finances, Commerce, Douanes, Assurances, Administration (French-English Legal Dictionary). Paris: Éditions de Navarre, 1955. Second-hand copies from Amazon.
  • Michel Ginguay. Dictionnaire d'informatique, bureautique, télématique anglais-français (English-French Dictionary of computing, data processing and telematics), 1970. More recent editions available from some Amazon sites.
  • E. M. Satow and Ishibashi Masakata, An English-Japanese Dictionary of the Spoken Language, 1876, 366 pages. Revised by E. M. Hobart-Hampden and Harold Parlett, Yokahama, Kelly and Walsh, 1904; reprinted Perkins, South Pasadena CA, 1943. The Yokahama edition is online here. Surprise! A reprint of the original 1876 edition was published only a few months ago: details here. It's a facsimile of the copy in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. Since it bears no publisher's imprint, it looks like Satow had it privately printed in the UK. It would be interesting to see how spoken Japanese has changed in the last 150 years. Already by 1876, he says, for beer, "The word beer (pr. birû) has been adopted by most Japanese."
  • Diane Kukich. University of Delaware nursing student produces pamphlet of medical terms in sign language. UDaily, 2011. The article is here.
UD nursing student Allyson Hayes, right, and Terri Boothe, a nurse with the Delaware School for the Deaf, demonstrate sign language detailing medical condition symptoms with student Brandon Crosson.
Source: University of Delaware Research.


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