Dictionnaire sans frontieres launched in Prague


Thursday saw the launch of a new three way Czech dictionary; giving the English, German and French translations of thousand of Czech words. While the dictionary is far too big to be taken on holiday - its makers are hoping that it will enable citizens of the EU to discuss the issues that affect them, and keep up with what's happening in Brussels. Rosie Johnston was at the launch...

Today's consumer may be used to three in one shampoos, but dictionaries? The Czech publishing house, Resonance, have just brought out an English-Czech-German-French dictionary. It treats everything from sport to human rights, and if like me, you have ever wondered just how 'best before date' translates into German - you will not be disappointed. The book informs me that it is 'das mindesthaltbarkeitsdatum', by the way. Bohuslav Balcar was the overall author of the dictionary and explains just how it was conceived:

"I must say that I have worked in tourism for around 25 years, and the original idea was to bring out something for people who worked in this field. We brought out two special tourism dictionaries, Czech-German and Czech-English. Some themes from these dictionaries also appear in this three language dictionary."

The idea for the three-way dictionary was encouraged by the then European Union ambassador - Ramiro Cibrian some years ago. But despite this, its author stresses that this is not a book of EU jargon, and emphasizes its practical purpose instead.

"We must find something for more people than just the specialists. This dictionary not just for specialists but also people who know at least one language and who need not only general expressions, but specific expressions in order to discuss with their partners in other EU countries."

Photo: European Commission
Now all of the hard graft of collecting the terms used in the dictionary - four times over - is complete, the makers hope to sell their template to other EU nations. Another one of the dictionary's compilers, Veronika Senjukova outlines the work that they will be spared:

"The project took more than two years, and was quite tough sometimes. Searching for proper words and proper collocations was sometimes quite difficult. Especially the bits concerning the European Union, because it keeps changing all the time so you don't know whether you are correct or not, really. Verifying was the hardest part of it."

It will be interesting to see if the great deal of work that went into this dictionary spares translators, commissioners and language enthusiasts some of the drudgery of word-hunting. But pozor! Ceux qui benutzen tento slovnik finiront sehr confused!