View Full Version : Pictorial dictionaries, Dudens
How many of you non-translators use a Duden or pictorial dictionary on a regular or occaional basis? For a translator they are invaluable when you know what a thing looks like and have forgotten the English (in my case). Or if you don't know what part of something is called.
Back when I had excellent reading knowledge of French it never crossed my mind that a dictionary with pictures would have been useful. (Not a bi-lingual one, at any rate.) That might have been, though, because I read French for research in art history (for class) and poetry (for pleasure); had I had a great interest in mechanical engineering I might have welcomed an illustrated dictionary. When I lived in Quebec, because I'd little knowledge of spoken French, I'd turn to my boss or my partner--the only two bilingual speakers it seemed within many many miles--for help and it does seem to me that one or the other would occasionally draw pictures to show a meaning.
One of my more precious books though is Le Plaisir des Mots, Georges Jean. It's ostensibly a dictionary for children and it's precious to me because of the quality of the illustrations, not because the illustrations help to define a word. . .
I find a two-volume dictionary called "How Things Work" a boon when translating anything that involves technical matters, as I come from the humanities end of reality, and however excellent my knowledge of my mother-tongue, British English, may be, I cannot know the workings of every technical thing that could appear in a novel. The last one I translated, for instance, involved the workings of stellar telescopes, something even the author of the novel had to get an expert to explain to him.
While I possess the 1980 edition of the work, and any things will have been slightly updated, it still gives a basis, with pictures, of how a great many technical things work. Because it is not merely a matter of knowing the name of the object or component, but also how the whole machine works, if you are to translate accurately.
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