A suggestion for Term Search
Thread poster: Lesley Clarke

Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:51
Spanish to English
Jul 7, 2007

Yet again Term Search is having problems looking for terms with accents.

Would it not be a good idea to include a phrase on the page, recommending that people remove accents if they are having problems with Term Search?

Of course I am thinking of Spanish, I do not know what problems people are having with other languages.

Does anyone have any other ideas?


Stuart Allsop  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Absolutely agree! Jul 13, 2007

Well said, Lesley!

I'm glad I'm not insane, and that other people have noticed the exact same problem with Term Search that I've been having, and reporting, for YEARS!

I have reported this issue three times now, and on every single occasion I have been told that there is no problem, the feature is working fine, it is doing what it is supposed to do, the problem is with the data base, or the search term, or the position of Mars in the Zodiac, etc.

So it is refreshing to see that you, too, are fed up with the same issue. I was beginning to think that I was the only person using the feature, or that I was going nuts!

I've been saving some of my favorites, to bring up the next time the subject came around!

For example, a search for "compañero de trabajo" pulls up the following reference to a CD player:

"The 2-channel signals are subjected to surround processing and output so that even regular music CDs can be heard as surround sound. --- Las señales de 2 canales se procesan como señales surround para obtener en las reproducciones un sonido envolvente, incluso al reproducir discos compa"

As well as this one to an insurance company:
"insurance company --- compa??a de seguros"

and this one to a customer location:
"the names of individuals at each client or customer location with whom the Compa --- los nombres de las personas en las oficinas de los clientes con quienes la empresa..."

It's hard to see how any of those are related to "compañero de trabajo"!!!

Or this one: A search for "hipótesis proyectiva" produces dozens of terms that start with "hip", but if you search without the accent it produces zero hits.

A search for "pesómetro" produces "pes anserinus" and "cavismo" and "ESP (Extrasensory Perception)".

A search for "atañe" from Spanish to English gets hits on "Serial ATA interface" and "cuadernos ATA".

I could go on and on, but I'm sure you have your own selection.

It is glaringly obvious what the problem is here: The search engine simply ignores everything after the first accented letter, and only uses the part of the search term that comes before the first accent. It is as clear as daylight.

But not to tech support.

According to tech support here, "that is the way it is supposed to work..."

(that was the answer I got when I reported it the first time)

... or:

"the problem is with the data base, not the search algorithm".

(that was the answer I got the second time I reported it).

So please excuse me for being cynical and sounding sarcastic and bitter, Lesley, but even though I agree with you wholeheartedly that "Term Search" is broken for searches in Spanish and wish you success in getting the problem resolved, in reality I doubt very much that you will get a useful response from tech support (if indeed you get a response at all), and MUCH less will we ever see the problem actually getting fixed!



Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:51
Spanish to English
Thanks for your feedback Stuart Jul 13, 2007

Well, truth to tell Stuart, I do find it is only an intermittent problem nowadays, and as I know nothing whatsoever about the difficulties of programming, rather than criticising I was personally hoping to get raise some interest to at least put some guidelines on the term-search page to help new-comers overcome this problem.

However you are the first person to have expressed any interest whatsoever, let along getting any response for Proz about the practicality of my suggestion.

Thanks for your feedback.


Stuart Allsop  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
There is no work around. The tool is just broken. Jul 18, 2007

Hi again, Lesley. I understand that you only really want to come up with a work-around, and let others know about it. That's what I wanted too, originally, but unfortunately there is no work-around: The tool is simply broken, and for some reason tech support at Proz.com refuses to even recognize that fact, even less to attempt to fix it.

Like you, I first thought that the solution was simply to check the "Search for all likely character encodings" box and NOT use any accents, but that doesn't work either.

Try searching for "accion resolutoria" without the accent, and you get zero hits (with or without the "all encodings" box checked). But if you DO use an accent, searching for "acción resolutoria" gets you 2 hits in the glossary and another 4 hits in the archive terms!

So basically, the tool does not work WITH accents and it does not work WITHOUT accents: It is broken. If you DO use an accent, it sometimes takes that as a wild card, and sometimes not. If you DON’T use a wild card, then it sometimes will not find terms that are in the data base, and sometimes it will. It is broken.

Since I am now resigned to the fact that Proz.com has no intention of fixing this glaring problem, I've learned to live with it. I simply conduct multiple searches with every possible variation I can think of, using accents, no accents, more words, less words, etc. Mostly it comes up with garbage, but sometimes it produces something useful.

The solution would actually not be that difficult, but I guess it simply isn't worth the effort for Proz.com, for whatever reason, so we'll just have to live with it. Which is yet another reason why I refuse to pay the bribe known as "membership fee" for having the right to ask more than 5 questions per day. I might have a different attitude if they actually would bother to fix some problems like this every now and then, but since they don't then I think I'll just keep my money, and carry on highlighting the issue every now and then.

I wish I could tell you that there is an easy work-around, but there simply isn’t. The only work-around is to search for every possible variation with and without accents.


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