The freelance translation business is, undoubtedly, an attractive and fast growing line of work. And it can be very profitable too. Of course, it is difficult to translate a complicated text without referring to some dictionaries. One can use a paper dictionary as well as an on-line one. Several languages have a variety of dictionaries, e.g., the English-Russian dictionary by Prof. Müller with 70,000 entries. Whether it contains the complete set of all English words is rather a philosophical question! Indeed, the concept a word is not as simple as it seems! Can we say that all geographical names in English are English words? Are all of the names used in English words? In mathematics these would be called fuzzy sets. New members of these sets disappear and are being created each day. English is undoubtedly a rich and complex language, one which allows the translator to express subtle and complex concepts relatively easily. Despite the fuzzy sets I mentioned earlier, English contains up to 100 million words and set phrases. If a freelance translator wants to look for a word in a print dictionary, he or she has a great many choices. Nowadays, it’s more common to refer to the internet. By the way, the creation of the internet gave a huge boost to the development of the freelance translation business. One of the many advantages to the internet is that new sources are being added constantly. It’s impossible for any paper dictionary/source to compete with the power of the internet. New dictionaries/other internet sources are being updated literally each moment.
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What internet sources can I recommend for colleagues right now? Well, there are many special and general online dictionaries and reference sites, such as the following:
http://www.multitran.ru : This is an online dictionary with tens of millions of entries. It’s useful when translating texts in English into Russian, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and many other less common languages; and vice versa.
http://mymemory.translated.net : This multi-language online dictionary supports many languages, including some less common ones such as Ukrainian, Tajik, Nepali, etc.
http://www.microsoft.com/Language/en-US/Default.aspx : This is the official Microsoft® site. It supports a very large number of languages. It’s an indispensable tool to facilitate IT-related translations.
http://people.duke.edu/~charvey/Classes/wpg/bfglosl.htm : This is an online English dictionary that specializes in the language of finance.
http://academic.ru : This site is devoted to encyclopedic dictionaries in English as well as other main European languages.
http://dic.your-english.ru : This is an English-Russian and Russian-English online dictionary.
http://www.acronymfinder.com : This is an English online dictionary for acronyms, initials, and/or abbreviations.
For those who translate from Russian, I would strongly recommend the following link:
http://www.sokr.ru . This work includes many abbreviations that you can’t find in most other dictionaries. It is very helpful for those who translate official documents from/into Russian. It includes a comprehensive set of Russian abbreviations in the areas of business, official business, and medical and technical terms, including obsolete and historical ones.
The single most useful resource I can recommend to you is: http://www.proz.com . Any time I am uncertain about how to translate a passage in any language, there is always some friendly soul available to assist. Again, that site is: http://www.proz.com/ask .
I’ve made no attempt to list all of the sources available to translators. There are thousands of them. But this list is an excellent overview that any translator should be aware of.
I hope my brief article is useful to my peers and others who are interested in the translation business or are interested in studying foreign languages.
Happy and profitable translating!
Olexandr (Alexander) Grabovsky, Ukraine