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Poll: How many times a day do you use a dictionary, on average?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 00:23
SITE STAFF
Jul 30, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How many times a day do you use a dictionary, on average?".

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Catherine Winzer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:23
German to English
+ ...
Paper or all forms? Jul 30, 2013

I originally read "dictionary" to mean a paper dictionary but then decided that an online dictionary was also a dictionary and answered accordingly.

I use a paper dictionary once or twice a day, whereas I am constantly looking things up on the online dictionaries.


 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:23
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Jul 30, 2013

???? If I start counting that as well, ....

I do not normally like saying this, but this must be the most useless Polls yet, and we have had some real competitors in the past! And also by someone invisible!


 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
It very much depends on what I am doing Jul 30, 2013

If I do routine things, not at all, if I do something special, all the time. Paper or internet - depends on the language, subject... Sometimes both - first I look the word up in my paper dictionary and then I check on the internet whether it is actually used in the context.

 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 16:23
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Other Jul 30, 2013

As many times as I have to. Which is sometimes zero if I am familiar with the subject matter.

@Michael
Agree with you here. Another anonymous hit-and-run poll.

"Time for bed," said Zebedee. zzzzzz


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 08:23
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No idea! Jul 30, 2013

It depends on the task at hand. Over the years, I have built a large client base in a wide diversity of fields ranging from tourism, political and economic articles and medicine (medical devices mainly) to home electronic equipment, outboard motors, construction and earth-moving equipment… Some vocabulary will require the use of dictionaries, more or less frequently, but I am unable to state an average!

 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
Righto Jul 30, 2013

Michael Harris wrote:

???? If I start counting that as well, ....

I do not normally like saying this, but this must be the most useless Polls yet, and we have had some real competitors in the past! And also by someone invisible!


We have to be careful with these ingenious polls. I mean, they are able to ingeniously suck your IQ down every time you care to answer.

BTW, my opinion mirrors yours.


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
File alongside... Jul 30, 2013

Julian Holmes wrote:

As many times as I have to. Which is sometimes zero if I am familiar with the subject matter.

@Michael
Agree with you here. Another anonymous hit-and-run poll.

"Time for bed," said Zebedee. zzzzzz



...how many times Kim Kardashian looks at her shoes.


What? You don't know who Kim Kardashian is? I'm surprised! She's a world-famous do-nothing female human whose claim to fame is...doing nothing.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
0-5 Jul 30, 2013

Today, I've looked up "chorion" and "permeation" so far. I already knew what they were, but wanted to see more info with them both in context. Sometimes I just look things up with that kind of thing in mind, rather than to find the meaning or usage of previously unfamiliar or unknown terms.

And I agree, it's another lacklustre, seemingly pointless poll.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:23
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
No idea... Jul 30, 2013

... and the average is meaningless. The only answer is that I use dictionaries and the concordance a lot.

Sometimes with medical texts I look up almost every other word or abbreviation just to be 110% sure. Even if I know perfectly well what it is likely to be, I check an extra time.

Sometimes with 'easy' texts I look up a lot in the dictionary or thesaurus, because of course I know what it means, but here the important thing is to get precisely the right nuance. My source text often repeats a word or expression where English prefers a synonym for variation.

I poke about looking for idioms and check collocations - as an ex-pat working with a language that is closely related to the target, I have to reinforce my ear now and then, even if I do go for the gut reaction as a rule.

Where dictionaries end and other references begin might be a good question too - I look up a great deal in all sort of lists, glossaries and parallel texts as I work.

But I collect dictionaries, and they are no fun if not dusted and used now and then. icon_biggrin.gif


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
The value of number-oriented polls Jul 30, 2013

Well, cheer up, everyone! I know I don't count how many times I consult the dictionary, but this poll got its inspiration from an old chestnut:

How many angels fit on top of a pinhead?

Religious scholars argued forever over this in times past.

Maybe we need to update it to “How many translators fit on top of a pinhead?“ Or
“How many pinheads fit on top of a translator?”


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:23
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jul 30, 2013

I voted "other" because it depends entirely on the project. Some projects require little or no research, others, quite a bit. In any case, I rarely use ordinary dictionaries.

Usually my first place to look is www.linguee.com, to see how the word has been translated in their enormous database of official documents. Often I am looking for a less-than-obvious translation because the obvious one doesn't make sense.

If it's a technical document, I do the research online, looking for similar contexts. A lot of the technical words and phrases that I'm not familiar with are also not in dictionaries. I may also check the KudoZ glossaries.

As a last resort, when it's not technical I may use a paper dictionary that offers a wide range of choices, like Martínez Amador for Spanish-English, to capture a nuance that I'm looking for.

I almost never use the online dictionaries, as I find them rarely helpful for the kinds of questions I have. If I'm really stumped, I may do a search with a string like ["Spanish English"+unknownword (fill in the blank)]. That brings up most of the online dictionaries that list the word, but the best answers usually come from www.linguee.com, which takes me back to where I started. ...


 

Terry Richards
France
Local time: 09:23
French to English
+ ...
What's a dictionary? Jul 30, 2013

If it's a paper dictionary, my answer is so close to zero as to be indistinguishable. If it includes the electronic dictionary on my computer, the number goes up a bit. If you add in online searches (Proz term search, Google, online dictionaries) it goes up quite a bit more. Now, does the automatic use of glossaries count? How about a context search in the current TM? What about the spell-checker / auto-corrector in Word, does that count?

Also, does it matter why I looked at the dictionary (whatever it is)? Sometimes I need to know the translation of a word I don't know, sometimes I'm just looking for a synonym that's on the tip of my tongue but I just can't quite summon up. Or maybe I'm just checking that the word doesn't have some specialised meaning in a particular context. Heck, sometimes I know exactly what word I want but I don't know how to spell it.

For that matter, average is also questionable. My use of all reference materials is highly dependent on the subject matter I'm translating. I couldn't possibly give an average without keeping records for a suitably long time frame. As a gut-feel estimate, a year of records should even out the variations in subject matter. I'll let you know when I've collected the data (but don't hold your breath).

A truly meaningless poll.


 

Noura Tawil  Identity Verified
Syria
Local time: 10:23
Member (2013)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Over 100... 200... times Jul 30, 2013

I'm in constant search through my dictionaries: Electronic, online, paper.. Sometimes I think of my E-Dictionary as my co-worker. I go to them looking for additional synonyms and inspiration even when I perfectly know the meaning, because I tend to seek perfection in the style of the translation output, perhaps it's due to my "former life" as a story writer for 14 years.
However, the topic and specialty do have an impact on my dictionary 'hits' number.

I admit that this habit holds me back quite a bit when it comes to productivity, but I can't help it, it's like a translator's OCD for me. I'm hoping to gradually ' recover ' over the years when I get more experienced AND practical.

[Edited at 2013-07-30 14:04 GMT]


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
Linguee Jul 30, 2013

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

I voted "other" because it depends entirely on the project. Some projects require little or no research, others, quite a bit. In any case, I rarely use ordinary dictionaries.

Usually my first place to look is www.linguee.com, to see how the word has been translated in their enormous database of official documents. Often I am looking for a less-than-obvious translation because the obvious one doesn't make sense.

If it's a technical document, I do the research online, looking for similar contexts. A lot of the technical words and phrases that I'm not familiar with are also not in dictionaries. I may also check the KudoZ glossaries.

As a last resort, when it's not technical I may use a paper dictionary that offers a wide range of choices, like Martínez Amador for Spanish-English, to capture a nuance that I'm looking for.

I almost never use the online dictionaries, as I find them rarely helpful for the kinds of questions I have. If I'm really stumped, I may do a search with a string like ["Spanish English"+unknownword (fill in the blank)]. That brings up most of the online dictionaries that list the word, but the best answers usually come from www.linguee.com, which takes me back to where I started. ...


I've also used Linguee in the past, but its accuracy is 70-90% at best. Not a good choice for very technical documentation, though.

I use the context search built in Google to solve many phrasing problems involving a difficult expression or word. I just type an entire phrase (in English or Spanish) and see what matches I get and in what context. If I find some good prospects, I search further to see who wrote or published it. I don't trust personal blogs or big company writing for terminology research because they're not written by people who is careful with writing text.


 
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