Poll: Do you still work with paper dictionaries?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:46
Apr 4, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you still work with paper dictionaries?".

This poll was originally submitted by Laurence Auffret. View the poll results »


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
From time to time Apr 4, 2015

I have a wonderful collection of about 300 paper dictionaries. They are still here by my warm side, but I have to admit that I use them less and less.

The one I use most often is Roget's Thesaurus. I don't understand why, but the online version is not as helpful. I always find options when I use the hard copy, whereas the online version often disappoints.

In general, I find the hard copy dictionaries to be much richer. I tend to use dictionaries more for nuancing than for looking up words I don't know. The online tools are so much faster than I've gotten lazy, but the time will never come when I do away with the hard copies entirely. They are good reliable friends.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 17:46
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes! Apr 4, 2015

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

They are good reliable friends.


Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:46
Portuguese to English
+ ...
When necessary Apr 4, 2015

I don't have 300 of them, like Muriel, but must have about 50 since I work in 3 language pairs, and have specialized bilingual dictionaries for various fields (legal, medical, etc.) in each of them, plus mono-lingual resources, too, of course.
I used some of them last week.
I had some work, and our internet was off for three days (how long it takes to get Comcast to come fix stuff....ugh...line was down).
I negotiated the work using my cellphone for e-mail, and had to download files to the phone and transfer them to my computer to get working, but pressed forward, anyway. Internet or not, the landlord wants his rent!
But when I'm online, it's just more efficient to use online resources (I mean, I can dig frantically through my hefty Collins-Robert, with that tiny print, not easy on old eyes, or I can issue a search on the Collins-Robert website and get results almost immediately).

I agree with Muriel; I will never discard the books, all the same.
I never discard books.
My ex-wife once told me,"Você tem livros demais! (You have too many books!)" and it just didn't make sense to me (not in any language).


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:46
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Yes Apr 4, 2015

They helped me a lot in the old days. Even though I use them less - mainly because I know more - I am not going to part with old friends who've helped me get where I am today.

This applies not just to books. Loyalty and trust are hard to come by and are not things to dump by the wayside when you think you are on easy street.


Vi Pukite  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:46
Member (2009)
Latvian to English
+ ...
Yes, often Apr 4, 2015

In my rare language pair there aren't that many resources, digital or otherwise, so one uses everything one can get. And, like others here, I do like the paper dictionaries, their heftiness, solidity, maybe not the small print though...


Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
Can I quote you? Apr 4, 2015

Julian Holmes wrote:

They helped me a lot in the old days. Even though I use them less - mainly because I know more - I am not going to part with old friends who've helped me get where I am today.

This applies not just to books. Loyalty and trust are hard to come by and are not things to dump by the wayside when you think you are on easy street.

That's a noble sentiment, Julian. From one book lover to another, thanks.


Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
Some say... Apr 4, 2015

...that printed dictionaries are going to disappear because everything is now on the Internet and Google Books has digitized thousands of books and dictionaries.

One of my guilty pleasures is to do a word search on a bilingual dictionary on Google Books. Some of those dictionaries are very expensive in print and I only need to check less than a handful of terms.

But simple economics will always prevent the digitizing of all books civilization ever knew, let alone incorporate search capabilities. One of the reasons for the existence of Google Books is that it's become a portal for booksellers. You might have noticed that those books cannot be copied and pasted elsewhere, cannot be downloaded into any useful format, and only show a limited number of pages.

Well-built and well-researched dictionaries are expensive for a reason: they are compiled by an army of writers, editors, translators (in the case of bilingual or polylingual dictionaries) and they are printed by publishing houses with the money to print sizable runs to make a profit.

I wish there were more printed dictionaries in some of my specialties, although I shouldn't complain much, since I work with two major languages, English and Spanish. This language pair has a very small number of specialized bilingual dictionaries on architecture, construction and civil engineering, for example, but I bet my no-longer-in-used Mosby medical dictionaries that other language pairs have a much more difficult time.

Given the popularity of crowdfunding, interested lexicographers could be able to fund a printed dictionary project in the language of their choice via, say, Kickstarter.


Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:16
English to Hindi
+ ...
Can't but not do it Apr 5, 2015

The thing is, some of the best dictionaries and glossaries in my language pair - English to Hindi - are not available in on line versions, so there is no option for me but to keep referring to paper dictionaries.


Mami Yamaguchi  Identity Verified
Member (2008)
English to Japanese
+ ...
I don't have as many dictionaries Muriel and Anthony have. Apr 5, 2015

I have 20 specialized dictionaries for my working fields. Their electronic versions are still not published, so I use paper ones. Some of them were from my valued clients. They sometimes provide me with many books(including dictionaries) for reference. I don't mean to brag about it though, it makes me feel trusted.


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Poll: Do you still work with paper dictionaries?

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