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French-English electronic dictionaries
Thread poster: Jonathan von Zelowitz

Jonathan von Zelowitz  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:41
French to English
Jul 6, 2008

I translate from French to English. A couple of years ago, after reading postings on proz.com, I bought Le Grand Robert and Collins (1.2). I use it all day, and am very satisfied with its content.

My background in the computer industry makes me particularly sensitive to the design and implementation mistakes in the software that I buy. The Robert-Collins dictionary is no exception. I have become accustomed to its many minor deficiencies. This did not stop me, on a day when I was feeling particularly persnickety, from sending a long list of them to Mindscape, its publisher. (I never received a reply, LOL.) Some examples of things that I find annoying are lookups for words with accents, phrases, strings with punctuation (intended or not), and particularly apostrophes. The Windows interfaces (in particular copy/paste and the so-called hyper-appel) and the UI design also have subtle problems.

Recently, I decided to look for a better solution. I noticed that an integrated series of software from iFinger, including an Oxford-based dictionary, thesaurus, and French-English bilingual dictionary, was available for a low price in the US. I bought the three products, hoping that they would be better than my Robert-Collins, and that their integration would prove to be an advantage.

THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS ARE BASED ON IFINGER 2.1. THERE IS CURRENTLY A NEW VERSION 3.0, WHICH MAY BE MUCH BETTER.

In brief, iFinger 2.1 was a disaster. I was not satisfied with its design, integration or functioning, nor with the dictionary database. I removed the programs after a couple of weeks of testing.

Here are a few comments on the iFinger 2.1 software (please see note above and below). There are unpredictable interferences with the user interface of other programs; iFinger seems to steal keystrokes or focus. Scroll keys, page keys, and the scroll wheel on the mouse do not seem to work in the iFinger window. You must scroll with the scroll bars, which is not always comfortable when switching contexts. Leading/trailing punctuation is not ignored, so “new.” is not found. There is no lookup for conjugated forms. Finally, I noticed what appear to be system instabilities with iFinger 2.1 running.

On the subject of the dictionary data, iFinger/Oxford 2.1 is numerically inferior to the Robert-Collins, and my impression from using it confirms this weakness. Here are a couple of simple comparisons, counting the number of words displayed in definitions that I chose at random:
port (French): 137 words in iFinger2.1/Oxford, 210 in Robert-Collins.
board (English): 272 words in iFinger2.1/Oxford, 628 in Robert-Collins.

THE PREVIOUS COMMENTS ARE BASED ON IFINGER 2.1. THERE IS CURRENTLY A NEW VERSION 3.0, WHICH MAY BE MUCH BETTER.

Today, I am still using the Robert-Collins, but would be thrilled to have a new version that fixes some of its problems and updates the database (which I believe is unchanged since 1.0). Additionally, the idea of a bilingual dictionary integrated with a proper monolingual English dictionary and thesaurus is extremely appealing to me as a translator. If anyone finds a decent one, or has feedback on iFinger 3, please let me know!


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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:41
French to English
Interesting - thanks Jul 7, 2008

Jonathan von Zelowitz wrote:

Today, I am still using the Robert-Collins, but would be thrilled to have a new version that fixes some of its problems and updates the database (which I believe is unchanged since 1.0). Additionally, the idea of a bilingual dictionary integrated with a proper monolingual English dictionary and thesaurus is extremely appealing to me as a translator. If anyone finds a decent one, or has feedback on iFinger 3, please let me know!


Thanks for posting this information. I use R&C version 1.1, and it does have some quirks, although I'm quite happy with it. I haven't tried iFinger.

I use a separate monolingual English dictionary, Merriam-Webster, and what I really like about is that you can search for inflected forms and plurals ... which you can't do with R&C. I use wordfast shortcuts to search my dictionaries, and R&C doesn't do very well with that, for example, I have to put verbs into their infintive before I can search.

I still use a paper thesaurus, and lately I've been thinking about getting a good electronic monolingual French dictionary. I agree, it would be nice to be able to have all that in one!


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