Further dictionaries and glossaries

Linguistic Resources II:
German & Other EU Languages

This page presents you with a number of useful online dictionaries, spelling and usage guides, glossaries and encyclopedias in various European languages (last checked and updated on 30 Nov. 2012).

Keep on coming back to this list as it gets updated from time to time.


Dutch resources

The Dutch Language Union/Taalunie

This site is a real treasury of information about the Dutch language, language education and language policy in Dutch-speaking countries. Click on the word "taalunie" above to go to the site.

Click here to go to the latest edition of the official spelling guidelines published in Oct. 2005 (Woordenlijst Nederlandse Taal).

There's a lot of interesting information on this site, so have a good look around it.

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Van Dale dictionaries

Van Dale is one of the Netherlands' best-known dictionary publishers. On their website, you can use an abridged electronic version of their chunky one-volume dictionary of modern Dutch, Van Dale Hedendaags Nederlands, and also access various other bilingual dictionaries featuring Dutch and another European language, from English or French to Portuguese or Swedish (at no charge). A Dutch-English and an English-Dutch dictionary are included here.

Click here to go to the free online dictionaries. Click on the arrow next to the language abbreviation in the search box to pick another dictionary or language pair.

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Encyclo, an encyclopedia in Dutch

Encyclo is a Dutch encyclopedia with a translation feature (in various languages) and a spelling check (Taalunie).

Besides searching for specific terms, you can also look for them alphabetically or using any of Encyclo's 32 categories.

It draws on 715 sources, including online dictionaries and smaller encyclopedias covering particular fields like art and history.

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French dictionaries

French dictionary featured on TV5MONDE

This resource is more than just a simple, monolingual French dictionary - as well as listing and defining individual terms, it also includes lexical information (collocations) and grammatical details (conjugations).

You can look for French synonyms and even get English translations of the French terms you've just keyed in (and vice versa). It's a very convenient tool, and it's free to use.

Try out the browser add-ons they offer to make access even easier.

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Larousse.com

French dictionary publisher Larousse also has a French online resource that can be used for free.

This database draws on five of Larousse's French dictionaries: a large general one along with dictionaries of synonyms/antonyms, idioms, homonyms and quotations.

Besides this valuable monolingual work, the publisher also provides various bilingual dictionaries on its website (e.g. French-English, French-German and French-Arabic) and a machine-translation tool (which is probably a laugh to use!).

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German-English/English-German dictionaries

dict.cc link

A useful online dictionary is available at dict.cc run by Paul Hemetsberger. This is partly based on the language data used by BEOLINGUS (see below). The site also includes a translators' forum for asking and answering users' queries and there's a free toolbar you can download for your Web browser.

NB: If you search for a term here, dict.cc allows you to search other dictionary websites for the same term (e.g. LEO, BEOLINGUS, PONS or LinguaDict, all of which are listed here, too) or continue your search in Google or linguistic databases in German.

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LinguaDict - Linguatec's online dictionaries

German language software company Linguatec has created a powerful, free-to-use online dictionary for Ger-Eng and Eng-Ger (as well as Ger-Fre and vice versa).

It frequently offers a wide range of accurate translations of terms and is therefore a valuable resource.

Click here to use the dictionaries on their website.

linguatec

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Reverso - Collins German-English dictionary

The Reverso website contains digitised versions of a wide range of Collins dictionaries. The Collins German-English Dictionary is a complete and unabridged version based on the 5th edition from 2004.

Reverso Context concordancerThere is another section of the website called Reverso Context, which is useful to translators because it displays words and phrases that you enter in contexts in which they have already been used as well as presenting corresponding translations. In short, it's a web-based concordance program as well as a dictionary. This tool is very similar to Linguee, which uses huge text corpora for term searches (see below).

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dictindustry

Another bilingual dictionary I often find helful when searching for appropriate English translations of German words is dictindustry. As the name implies, it has a lot of technical terms. The dictionary is free to use and also contains entries in many other European languages.

The translations and texts contained here are from translations the owner has done and from databases provided by the Directorate-General for Translation, the European Commission's in-house translation service. 

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LEO's online dictionaries

LEO is actually a variety of resources that also cover three bilingual dictionaries: Ger-Eng, Ger-French and Ger-Spanish.

The Ger-Eng/Eng-Ger dictionary contains a corpus of over 400,000 entries. It can be quite helpful at times, but in our opinion the dictionary database contains some surprising gaps in vocabulary.

In my opinion, LEO's main strength actually lies in its user forum as the expressions users suggest for inclusion get discussed by other users here, including native speakers.

If you can't find a term in the dictionary, try any of the other dictionaries listed on this page, particularly dict.cc and LinguaDict.

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BEOLINGUS dictionary

This free-to-use German-English/Eng-Ger dictionary maintained by Chemnitz University of Science and Technology (TU Chemnitz) contains "more than 680,000 translations with examples and hints, explanations, synonyms, sayings, aphorisms and quotations."

I occasionally find it a useful supplement to LEO, especially if you're looking for a technical term, but LinguaDict and dict.cc may well prove more helpful, depending on the subject area in question. Try it out and see for yourself.

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German-English dictionary, Projekt Deutscher Wortschatz

Projekt Deutscher Wortschatz

This is a German-English/English-German dictionary maintained by the University of Leipzig, Germany. According to their own description, it contains approx. 400,000 entries drawn from 90,000 English words and 150,000 German terms.

When you key in a term, a database application will be started that searches a large corpus of data belonging to the "Projekt Deutscher Wortschatz". Click on the image above to go to the opening page of the dictionary.

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PONS.eu

The bilingual online dictionaries maintained by PONS (Ernst Klett Verlag) cover a wide range of language pairs, the main source languages being either German or English. More than 30 different dictionaries can be accessed here for free, including pictorial ones.

Download their free toolbar for your Web browser in order to access the dictionaries from any Web page without having to go to the PONS site first.

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www.linguee.de

Launched in April 2009, newcomer Linguee.de is a linguistic search engine with a lot of potential for translators.

Why's that? Well, it doesn't give you a one- or two-word equivalent of a source word in the target language like a conventional dictionary does, but presents the source and target term in an excerpt of a text that has already been translated. The term you enter is generally marked in bold print and is embedded in a sentence or paragraph.

It's a bit like looking at a translation database with the source text on the left and the target text on the right.

In other words, the term or phrase you're looking for is always presented in a particular context (or several different ones if enough texts have been fed into the Linguee database beforehand). This way you can often see which translation fits the bill and which one doesn't.

Admittedly, Linguee.de doesn't always come up with exactly the word or phrase you're looking for and it sometimes lists sentences that haven't been translated correctly, but that's because it draws on freely available texts of varying quality on the Net.

Used thoughtfully (like any other dictionary, for that matter), it can nevertheless be a valuable terminological resource for professional translators. In my own experience, it's frequently come up with the right term.

An extra benefit Linguee.de has is that it quotes the source of each text and displays it as a hyperlink, so you can just click on a potentially interesting one and learn more about the subject area (and its specific jargon) by jumping to that particular page.

Try it out and see for yourself!

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Key EU resources

IATE - EU terminology database

IATE, or "Interactive Terminology for Europe", is a huge language resource originally intended for use by professionals working at or for the European Union. Made available to the general Internet community in March 2007, it has succeeded eurodicautom and contains its entire database.

Like its predecessor, it "covers a broad spectrum of human knowledge, but is particularly rich in technical and specialised terminology (agriculture, telecommunications, transport, legislation, finance) related to EU policy".

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EUR-Lex, the EU's law portal

EUR-Lex

If you need the official title of an EU law, treaty or international agreement in English or any of the other EU languages, then use the EUR-Lex website for your search.

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Babylon

This site will probably already be familiar to you. Babylon offers its users a wide range of bilingual online dictionaries. Try it out and see what you think.

Translation Software




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The MOT dictionaries from Kielikone

The MOT dictionaries

Kielikone Ltd is a Finnish company that produces and markets language software for business users. Its range of products includes dictionary, machine translation and proof-reading software for Internet, intranet and mobile use.

The firm's "MOT" Dictionary Service gives you online access to a wide range of quality dictionaries in various languages. To do this, you need to take out a modest subscription.

The interesting thing about MOT is that you can tailor the service to your own needs, picking only the general and/or technical dictionaries you actually require. Glossaries are also available.

In addition, when you log on as a user and key in a word to find out what its translation is, Kielikone's MOT application presents you with a one-page list of hits found in all of the dictionaries you've subscribed to. This saves you a lot of time you'd otherwise have to spend leafing through different online and paper dictionaries.

Click here to see what general dictionaries you can use. There are digital dictionaries from Oxford University Press, Collins and Langenscheidt, for example, as well as various Finnish works. Further dictionaries are being added in 2009.

If you're interested in a free trial, fill in the request form on Kielikone's website.

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German resources

Duden Verlag

The Duden website enables users to access a range of the publisher's own dictionaries in German, including its large Universalwörterbuch and other works on synonyms, foreign loanwords, and acronyms and abbreviations.

It also provides a "Sprachratgeber" (guide on language use) and helpful information on the new spelling rules in German.

To read the latest issues of Duden's free newsletter on aspects of the German language (capitalisation, phrases, sayings, etymology, etc.), just click here. (You can also sign up to get it regularly.)

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Langenscheidt Verlag

Like Duden, Langenscheidt has also made a dictionary of foreign loanwords (Fremdwörter) used in German available to the public completely free of charge.

The dictionary contains "approx. 33,000 of the foreign loanwords most frequently used in German, including technical terms used in medicine, technology, commerce, law and politics".

The full-text search feature ("Volltext") is especially useful as it displays and explains various grammatical forms of the term you enter (e.g. adjectives and adverbs as well as nouns). Click here to access it.

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Wortschatz-Portal, Uni Leipzig

Wortschatz-Portal

The University of Leipzig has done a lot of research on German vocabulary and has also set up its own free-to-use "Wortschatz-Portal". To go there, click on the blue image on the left.

The scientific database of German terms that can be accessed here provides details about a word's frequency, its forms, synonyms and relations to other words and it also quotes sentences in which the word occurs in its corpus to show you how it is used.

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OpenThesaurus, the German synonym dictionary

This is a German dictionary of synonyms and closely related words. There were over 41,000 synonyms listed in it in February 2007.

OpenThesaurus is an Open Source project and anyone can contribute to it providing they register as an editor first. In addition to the German thesaurus, there are also several other independent language versions such as Polish, Portuguese, Slovak and Spanish (see the section "OpenThesaurus in anderen Sprachen" for more details).

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www.abkuerzungen.de

This website enables you to search for German abbreviations and acronyms. Click on the banner above to call up the search page.

NB: If you can't find what you're looking for, then go to the "Links" page on their site and see if one of the other lists they mention looks more useful.

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Zwiebelfisch at www.spiegel.de

Bastian Sick has been writing a column on tricky aspects of the German language for current affairs magazine Der Spiegel for some time now and has also published several very successful paperbacks containing selected articles.

Just click on the name of the column above to go to the Zwiebelfisch page on the Spiegel website. You can subscribe to his RSS posts here. Bastian Sick also writes a Zwiebelfisch newsletter once a fortnight. To subscribe to it, click here.

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Scandinavian dictionaries

Danish

dansk retskrivning

The Danish Language Council (Dansk Sprognævn) has put a useful spelling dictionary on the Net. Click on the banner above to access it.

The page that opens also enables you to follow up further links on various aspects of modern Danish such as language policy, the Council's mission, its publications and its guidelines on using commas.

Test your knowledge of Danish orthography at this site or browse through the interesting list of FAQs about everyday Danish.

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Norwegian

Språkrådet

Click here to go to "Bokmålsordboka og Nynorskordboka", an online dictionary created and maintained by ILN (Institutt for lingvistiske og nordiske studier at the University of Oslo).

This reference work was produced in conjunction with Norsk språkråd and was last updated in January 2007.

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Store norske leksikon

This is a large web-based encyclopedia in Norwegian that is free to use. The home page also includes links to two other reference works, a large medical encyclopedia and a biographical encyclopedia on famous Norwegians.

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Swedish

NE

NE.se maintains a Swedish dictionary-cum-encyclopedia on its website. This large work contains approx. 140,000 entries and search terms with a great deal of extra information in addition to definitions.

In the site's own words, "Här hittar du uppgifter om hur ett ord stavas, uttalas och böjs, men även hur det definieras och vilken ordklass det har. Vidare får du reda på annan språkrelaterad information såsom ordled, konstruktion, bruklighet, synonymer, betydelserelationer och betydelsenyanser."

NB: You need to register with NE.se and then log in to be able to access some of the information.

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Swedish-English

Folkets lexikon

A large Swedish-English/English-Swedish internet dictionary called Folkets lexikon (The People's Dictionary) is available here.

This work is based on the Lexin Swedish-English and English-Swedish dictionary published by the Swedish Language Council, but has been expanded as an ongoing crowdsharing project.

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Further resources for you

» Go to the English reference works.

» Go to the Patents page.

» Go to the glossaries page.

» Read some German reviews of bilingual dictionaries written by members of ATICOM, an association of translators and interpreters.

» Send us some feedback. We'd like to hear from you!