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Wikipedia as a polyglot dictionary
Thread poster: Richard Bartholomew

Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:13
Member (2007)
German to English
Jun 27, 2008

Sometimes I look up a word in a source language Wikipedia. Then I click the target language link in the left column to get a translation. Do you do this often? Do you consider it an acceptable translation technique?


[Bearbeitet am 2008-06-27 11:34]


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Evelyne Antinoro  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:13
German to Italian
+ ...
Yes! Jun 27, 2008

Of course I check, if possible, with other glossaries.
Sometimes it's very very helpful!

Evelyne


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 06:13
English to Hungarian
+ ...
thanks Jun 27, 2008

I never noticed that there are links to other languages in there. I wonder how they are generated. I'd imagine article writers are encouraged to link to articles in other languages about the same subject if they know other languages... (and of course Wikipedia can link these up automatically: if a German writer linked the Italian article and the Italian guy linked the French, then the German article will link to the French as well).

As ever, I'd not accept any information as fact unless another source confirms it, but this could speed up research a lot. The fact that Wikipedia has pictures and detailed descriptions helps a lot.
I just had to look up "O-ring" in Spanish a few days back and it took a while... The Wikipedia article link would have done the job in under a minute, incl. confirming it elsewhere.


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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:13
French to English
I do it too! Jun 27, 2008

But often, it's just a way to help me get started searching in the right direction, I try not to rely on Wikipedia alone, I double check the word in other sources as well, once I know what word/type of product/idea I'm searching for, I can either determine that it is the right one (ie: used on other industry websites in the right context), or if the google occurences are not very high, I have a direction to search in the right kind of areas to find the word I need.

A recent example of my search technique that can also be applied to Wikipedia searching:

I had a golf accessory in French, and no idea where to begin searching for the English equivalent. I got some google images of the accessory, searched through them to find one that looked like an American brand, went to the website of the American manufacturer, found out what it was called in English.

Then I googled the English word to make sure that it was indeed present on golf websites ... found out that in English the word varies based on the shape of the accessory...


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Nuno Quintas
Portugal
Local time: 05:13
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends Jun 27, 2008

I sometimes do that as well, though the Portuguese language Wikipedia is written by both Brazilian and Portuguese users. More often than not (especially in technical areas), the term I'm looking for is different than the one presented. So I'm always checking and double-checking.

However, I have to say that I tend not to trust Wiki. I've caught too many mistakes in its articles (mainly in the ones I'm familiar with, so God knows about the rest) and one should always check against other, more reliable sources. Depending on the area, I tend to compile a list of terms I want to confirm and go to the local library for a couple of hours.


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Daniel Šebesta  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 06:13
Member (2007)
English to Czech
+ ...
Related terminology Jun 27, 2008

Of course, I use this technique, too.

It's useful not only to find one specific term. Firstly, if you read the article (which is normally written by someone better acquainted with the subject field than I am), you find lots of genuine related terminology that you may need elsewhere in your translation. Secondly, if you are not quite familiar with the subject, the Wikipedia articles (in either language) sheds some light on it.

On the other hand, you should not trust the "interwiki links" boundlessly. Sometimes, when no exact match is available, articles link to their approximate counterparts or related subjects in the other language and it also happens from time to time that the links are completely wrong.

Wikipedia is definitely a good place to start your research. However, as always, relying on only one source may be tricky.


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Dr. Matthias Schauen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:13
Member
English to German
Always verify somewhere else Jun 27, 2008

I would advise against it. From my own experience I can say that technical and scientific articles in the German Wikipedia are often written by experts working in the field. Those experts often use their own "lab slang" or "tech lingo", and this is reflected in the choice of dictionary entries. Especially in molecular biology, English words or direct translations from the English are used in the lab, while perfectly acceptable German technical terms exist and are used in original German literature. (Example: open reading frame - offener Leserahmen vs. offenes Leseraster).

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Daniel Šebesta  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 06:13
Member (2007)
English to Czech
+ ...
Links Jun 27, 2008

FarkasAndras wrote:
I never noticed that there are links to other languages in there. I wonder how they are generated.


I write quite a lot of articles for the Czech Wikipedia (but for other language versions too). Whenever possible, I add a link to the existing English counterpart in the new Czech article and a link to the new Czech article in the existing English article. If there are other language versions, the rest of the links is automatically taken care of by bots within a day or two.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:13
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
I don't see the problem here Jun 27, 2008

Dr. Matthias Schauen wrote:
I would advise against it. From my own experience I can say that technical and scientific articles in the German Wikipedia are often written by experts working in the field. Those experts often use their own "lab slang" or "tech lingo", and this is reflected in the choice of dictionary entries. Especially in molecular biology, English words or direct translations from the English are used in the lab, while perfectly acceptable German technical terms exist and are used in original German literature. (Example: open reading frame - offener Leserahmen vs. offenes Leseraster).


It's often useful to find the "tech lingo" this way, because the type of material one receives for technical translation in the real world is seldom the best example of language usage, but is full of bad and inconsistent term choices or terms that were simply not picked up by the compilers of dictionaries.

You're right, however, that you should verify your findings elsewhere. It's even good to be a bit compulsive about such things, even in a field one knows well. I'm sometimes surprised by new terms that have crept into some of my specialties and proliferated like weeds in a few short years.

It is interesting to see the strong prejudices against the use of Wikipedia and other online resources in some quarters, particularly among "old school" translators. A few years ago I decided to take the state translation exam for science in Berlin for fun and to get a shot at cheaper business liability insurance through the BDÜ (which wouldn't otherwise accept me for membership due to my lack of "qualification"). The exam is a ridiculously long, drawn-out process that took 8 or 9 months altogether before it was over. The last part consists of an oral exam, part of which involves the discussion of "translation tools" (which basically means just printed dictionaries to the examiners I had). When I mentioned the word "Wikipedia", you should have seen the response! It was like throwing a live rattlesnake on the table. The examiners emphasized what a horrible idea that was, how unprofessional, etc. I simply replied that it is a starting point and not an unreasonable one, and that anyone stupid enough not to check further in other sources is taking unnecessary risks, and everyone calmed down and agreed that maybe it wasn't so bad after all. But there was an obvious cultural divide, especially with a few of the examiners who have probably not yet dared to upgrade their use of technology to include an electric typewriter


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Fabiana Zardo  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:13
Member (2009)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Me too Jun 27, 2008

Not only I do it, but I also find it an excellent resource.

I also check it in Google, to make sure it is the right expression.

One thing that I always do as well is to check for pictures in Google when I'm trying to figure out the translation for the name of a machine, for example.

God bless the Internet!!!!


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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 15:13
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
old schools are always old Jun 27, 2008

Kevin Lossner wrote:
The examiners emphasized what a horrible idea that was, how unprofessional, etc. I simply replied that it is a starting point and not an unreasonable one, and that anyone stupid enough not to check further in other sources is taking unnecessary risks, and everyone calmed down and agreed that maybe it wasn't so bad after all. But there was an obvious cultural divide, especially with a few of the examiners who have probably not yet dared to upgrade their use of technology to include an electric typewriter

Sometimes I think that old school translators or linguists in general are just scared to face the reality. In 2001 during my PhD studies in Poland I was told by one of the Polish mastodonts that sociolinguistics is a pseudoscience. Since that moment I have become a little bit sceptical towards old school linguists. LOL


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 12:13
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Omissions in Wikipedia pages Jun 27, 2008

Richard Bartholomew wrote:
Sometimes I look up a word in a source language Wikipedia. Then I click the target language link in the left column to get a translation. Do you do this often? Do you consider it an acceptable translation technique?


I observe that translation in other languages is not 100% compatible at one-by-one matching. I missed many paragraphs in some languages. This is one weak point we must be aware of if we use Wikipedia as translation resource.

Cheers,
Soonthon L.


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Daniel Šebesta  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 06:13
Member (2007)
English to Czech
+ ...
Mostly no translations Jun 27, 2008

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.) wrote:
I observe that translation in other languages is not 100% compatible at one-by-one matching. I missed many paragraphs in some languages. This is one weak point we must be aware of if we use Wikipedia as translation resource.


I didn't think one would expect one-by-one matching. It is no wonder that they do not match since most articles are not translations of others; they are compiled independently (e.g., to avoid self-reference to Wikipedia and to rely rather on locally available sources). The value for translators is in the linking between the language versions and in the genuine local terminology used in each language-version article.

[Edited at 2008-06-27 14:22]


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Sergei Leshchinsky  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 07:13
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
sometimes it's useful, but look out Jun 27, 2008

The articles are written mainly by native speakers, which is useful. But be cautious with cross links to other languages. There are many unfinished articles and their content might be written by non-pros.

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Ioana Isai  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 06:13
Romanian to German
+ ...
Sadly not enough translations Jun 28, 2008

Sadly, most of the times there are few or no translations at all.

I agree with Lori and Daniel, actually with you all. I myself use Wikipedia as an aid to translation, but I make sure I double or triple check the term before actually using it. It is nevertheless a great starting point if you have no idea what the term means or in which context it may be used.

Kevin, the reaction of your "examiners" does not surprise me. Quite a number of academics (they, too!!!) regard Wikipedia as not being a reliable source of information (due to its open-source character), and I myself have sometimes encountered mistakes or misgivings of certain topics, but that was a long time ago. Nowadays, the Wikipedia-"guys" strive towards accuracy of the content uploaded. I remember that during my studies and also while writing my thesis paper, Wikipedia was (and still is) a big NO NO amongst academics.

But that does not stop me to consult it every time I need an explanation or a broader context (actually, I think it's among the first sources I check).

Anyway, feel free to use it and even recommend it to others!

R,
Ioana


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