Recommendations sought for giant German/German>English dictionaries
Thread poster: Ron Stelter
Ron Stelter  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:43
Member (2003)
German to English
Mar 28, 2004

While searching around the Internet, I've come across two very large dictionaries which may be of help to me as a German>English translator.

1. The German>English Muret-Sanders (two volumes)

Springer, Herausgeber
der große Muret-Sanders A-K 1999. 1. Band. 8. Auflage.
Langenscheidts
enzyklopädisches Wörterbuch der deutschen und englischen Sprache. Die
Quellen gehen auf das Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts zurück.Rund 340.000
Stichworte und 600.000 englische Übersetzungen in beiden Bänden für
alle wichtigen Fachgebiete mit Anwendungsbeispielen, idiomatischen
Wendungen, Redensarten und Sprichwörtern. Deutsch / Englisch. Gebunden
973 Seiten

Springer, Herausgeber
der große Muret-Sanders L-Z 1999. 2. Band. 8. Auflage. dito.
Deutsch /
Englisch. Gebunden 1049 Seiten


2. Duden 10-volume dictionary series (only German)


Duden Das große Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache
2000. In völlig überarbeiteter und erweiterter
Auflage enthält mehr als 200.000 Stichwörter mit rund 300.000
Bedeutungsangaben. Aufbereitung der bekannten Dudenreihe, die aus
folgenden Titeln besteht: die neue deutsche Rechtschreibung,
Stilwörterbuch, Bildwörterbuch, Grammatik, Fremdwörterbuch,
Aussprachewörterbuch, Herkunftswörterbuch, sinn- und sachverwandte
Wörter, richtige und gutes Deutsch, Bedeutungswörterbuch,
Redewendungen und sprichwörtliche Redensarten, Zitate und Aussprüche.
Gebunden 10 Bände 4800 Seiten




I already have the Giant Unabridged Harper-Collins German>English, English>German (800,000 entries). However, I still come across a lot of words/phrases that seem to be almost impossible to know unless you've lived in Germany twenty years. Or Austrianisms. Or Swissisms. I guess I would like to have a "be all and end all" dictionary that would almost always come through for me when my other dictionaries let me down.

I was wondering whether anyone else had an opinion on these dictionaries. Which is better and why? If I already have the Harper-Collins, is that enough? (I know for claims like "the biggest dictionary in the world" and things like this, the number of total words doesn't seem to be much better than the Harper-Collins. The Duden would only average to 500 pages per volume.) I know they tend to also become expensive pretty quickly.

Danke.

Ron


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:43
German to English
Giant dictionaries Mar 28, 2004

Ron Stelter wrote:
However, I still come across a lot of words/phrases that seem to be almost impossible to know unless you've lived in Germany twenty years. Or Austrianisms. Or Swissisms. I guess I would like to have a "be all and end all" dictionary that would almost always come through for me when my other dictionaries let me down.


I think I can say for a certainty, Ron, that there is no be-all and end-all dictionary for translators. One set of dictionaries is fine for one type of text and another set for another kind of text. Muret-Sanders is a very fine dictionary especially for the more academic types of texts such as history, political science, literature, etc. But even then, dictionaries are only part of the solution. There is no substitute for research. When I get a text to translate that's about a subject that's new to me, I will usually spend a lot of time reading parallel texts in English to get a feel for the language used.

I don't think dictionaries let translators down. Translators can let themselves down. I think a translator who has received no formal training in translation (such as myself) needs to establish some rigorous guidelines. These are some of the basics, I think:
1. Stick to one foreign language and translate only into your native tongue
2. If you don't master the source language, spend a few years in the country
3. Constantly work on improving your writing skills in your target language
4. Read voraciously – both in the target language and in the source language
5. Develop online research skills and amass online glossaries and other resources

So in my opinion, the bottom line is no dictionary has ever been written that will substitute for the hard work that has to go into becoming a translator. There is no shortcut.
Lots of luck, Kim



[Edited at 2004-03-28 18:48]

[Edited at 2004-03-28 19:10]


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Ron Stelter  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:43
Member (2003)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Maybe to a point Mar 28, 2004

Ultimately, there probably isn't a dictionary that will solve everything. Nor did I think there would be. However, I must disagree with your assertion that online "translation by Google" is naturally better. In fact, the Internet is without a doubt one of the most unreliable sources of information. Can you find the 1% that is applicable from the other 99%? Maybe. With certainty, even less.

I just did a Google search for "ain't." It comes up 3,890,000 times. According to "translation by Google," this would have to be a perfectly correct word. Of course, it isn't at all-unless you're Huck Finn.

I also believe print or online dictionaries have their place. The problem isn't the use of dictionaries-millions of people use them with good results-the problem is that many of the dictionaries just aren't very good.
It's more about searching through the chaff and not buying the worthless dictionaries than that all dictionaries are worthless in and of themselves.

I would appreciate only constructive input about the dictionaries above-which was the intent of my original posting.



Kim Metzger wrote:

Ron Stelter wrote:
However, I still come across a lot of words/phrases that seem to be almost impossible to know unless you've lived in Germany twenty years. Or Austrianisms. Or Swissisms. I guess I would like to have a "be all and end all" dictionary that would almost always come through for me when my other dictionaries let me down.


I think I can say for a certainty, Ron, that there is no be-all and end-all dictionary for translators. One set of dictionaries is fine for one type of text and another set for another kind of text. Muret-Sanders is a very fine dictionary especially for the more academic types of texts such as history, political science, literature, etc. But even then, dictionaries are only part of the solution. There is no substitute for research. When I get a text to translate that's about a subject that's new to me, I will usually spend a lot of time reading parallel texts in English to get a feel for the language used.

I don't think dictionaries let translators down. Translators can let themselves down. I think a translator who has received no formal training in translation (such as myself) needs to establish some rigorous guidelines. These are some of the basics, I think:
1. Stick to one foreign language and translate only into your native tongue
2. If you don't master the source language, spend a few years in the country
3. Constantly work on improving your writing skills in your target language
4. Read voraciously – both in the target language and in the source language
5. Develop online research skills and amass online glossaries and other resources

So in my opinion, the bottom line is no dictionary has ever been written that will substitute for the hard work that has to go into becoming a translator. There is no shortcut.
Lots of luck, Kim



[Edited at 2004-03-28 18:48]

[Edited at 2004-03-28 19:10]


[Edited at 2004-03-28 22:11]


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johnduke
German to English
Nice set of tips Mar 29, 2004

Nice set of tips, Kim. Very useful to us beginners in the profession. Thanks!

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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:43
German to English
You can see samples online. Apr 25, 2004

Have you taken a look at the Langenscheidt website? If you look very carefully you can find a sample page from the M-S, to give you an idea what it is like. I have the slightly smaller M-S, which has only two volumes in total; the larger one has 4 volumes, two in each direction. I'm very pleased with the one I have, although I still find if I look in my ancient Collins single volume two-way dictionary there are occasionally better suggestions for some words.

I'd also recommend looking at amazon.com and finding out if you can use the "look in the book" facility, which allows you to look at the index, front and back covers and some sample pages of selected books.


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