Glossary Mining - Down Tunnel No. 2 Terminology translation jobs
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Glossary Mining - Down Tunnel No. 2

By Lee Wright,
American Translators Association,
Alexandria, VA, U.S.A.

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See also:
Glossary Mining - Part 1
Glossary Mining - Down Tunnel No. 2
Glossary Mining - Part 3: Digging for Buried Treasure

Glossary Mining - Part 4: Making It Legal
Glossary Mining - Part 5: Getting Down to Business
Glossary Mining - Part 6: Science from A to Z
Glossary Mining - Part 7: Brush Up Your English

In the first installment on this topic, I focused primarily on a simple way to use Google (or just about any other search engine) to unearth a variety of specialized glossaries, ranging in nature from the potentially useful to the downright ridiculous. However, that exercise only went partway down the mine shaft, so I turned my attention to excavating a little deeper.

Instead of using the key word combinations of "intitle:glossary/dictionary of" and

"intitle:glosario/diccionario de" as before, the next step was to use

"intitle:<subject>glossary/glosario," in which <subject> is replaced with the name of a technical field in the given language, e.g., mining/minería or chemistry/química. You can even make that technical field’s name more than one word when desirable, e.g., intercambiadores de calor or concrete and cement (although Google ignores "noise words" such as prepositions, conjunctions, articles, etc.).

I found that, as a general rule, using "intitle:<subject>dictionary/diccionario" is not a very good way to locate hidden terminology resources because most of the time this will simply yield definitions of whatever word or phrase you substitute for <subject>. In other words, it works much like Google’s "define: <term>" query parameter.

Yet another strategy for locating terminological resources with a search engine is to type the phrase "<subject> terminology" (without the quote marks) or, for a different language "<subject> <the equivalent of the word ‘terminology’ in the language>". For example, to search for terminology about steel in English, you would type "steel terminology". If you want to search for Spanish valve terminology, you would type "válvulas terminología". It must be noted, however, that searches using this second approach are usually not as successful as the first method.

As a result of applying this search methodology, my printed list of Favorites now runs about 30 pages long, with well over 1000 different URLs ranging in subject matter from agriculture to zoology. Needless to say, due to the large number of URLs collected, it was necessary to organize everything in separate subfolders of my browser’s Favorites list.

In some cases this new approach to glossary mining yielded some very interesting (and surprising) results. Such was the case when I was researching the subject of organic chemistry and specifically polymers and plastics. I discovered a marvelously detailed and completely free textbook on organic chemistry ( It consists of 25 chapters and 5 appendices in PDF format that can be downloaded and printed, all of which was updated in July 2005. As an excellent complement to this English-language work, another Web site in Spain provides a similar comprehensive introduction to the subject, which can be found at:

Other fields of interest include astronomy, and I am especially fond of the Nine Planets site (, which provides a multimedia overview of the history, mythology, and current scientific knowledge of each of the planets and moons in our solar system. Each page has text and images, some have sounds and movies, and most provide references to additional related information.

Many of the bilingual glossaries found on the Internet are just lists of words in language A followed by their counterparts in language B, but the monolingual glossaries usually provide good definitions of the terms. Some resources go far beyond this basic lexicological approach, containing illustrations and sometimes even "working" representations (i.e., animations) of a particular device. One of the best illustrated glossaries I have found is one on architecture (

A real simple but effective animated Web site (but not a glossary per se) is the one depicting the plastic blow molding process ( Another nicely illustrated site is the one by INFOACERO (, which provides excellent multi-color drawings of the various processes involved in steelmaking (all in Spanish, of course). I especially like the Illustrated Glossary of Pumps (, which not only offers photographs but also animated illustrations of various pumps in action.

If you happen to be a rock hound, some fascinating geology sites can be found on the Internet, such as the Atlas of Rocks, Minerals and Textures developed by the University of North Carolina (, which provides detailed photographic examples, as well as descriptions, of numerous rocks and minerals. However, for translation purposes you can’t beat the huge (200+ pp.) quadrilingual (Spanish, German, English, French) glossary of geology terms available at You can select any of the four languages to be the source language, with the equivalents in the other three languages being displayed or printed next to each SL term.

Other multilingual glossaries can also be found on the Internet. One in particular that is extremely useful is the 6-language glossary of paper terminology (Spanish, English, French, German, Italian and Portuguese) at On the subject of paper, but not a glossary as such, you can get a wonderful overview of the steps involved in the paper making process, as well as the principal terminology involved, with the virtual tour provided by International Paper’s Web site: For best results, a small program, or plugin, from iPIX will speed the download time for each of the photos in this virtual tour. Your computer, though, may already have that plugin. If it does not have the iPIX plugin, your computer will ask you if you’d like to download the plugin, which downloads very quickly.

For those interested in leading-edge scientific research, you should check out the excellent Spanish-language glossary of nanotechnology ( and a similar English-language glossary ( This points out the fact that, even if you can’t find a bilingual glossary for a given subject, you can often locate a separate glossary in each of your working languages, thus allowing you to compare the entries and essentially put together your own glossary for the subject or for a specific translation project.

One of the subjects mentioned at the beginning of this article was mining (minería in Spanish). Unfortunately, if you do a search using "intitle:minería glosario" you’re probably going to come up empty-handed for any kind of useful Spanish glossary of mining terms. However, this same search can lead to other discoveries, such as the "Edukativos" [sic] Web site that contains links to a wide range of Spanish-language articles on different subjects. Two of these that provide excellent multi-part discussions of mining are and When put together with an English-language mining glossary, such as the one found at or this one,, you can produce a fairly comprehensive bilingual glossary.

During the process of researching polymer chemistry, in addition to the aforementioned textbook on organic chemistry, I unearthed quite a few excellent monolingual glossaries and other resources on plastics processing. One of these Web sites,, looked very attractive because Among the glossaries on plastics and rubber there is a good one produced by Dow Corning ( In addition to the fairly extensive English-language glossary of terms and definitions, this site also claims to provide information in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and German, with the promise to add more languages in the future. However, it was disappointing to find no foreign-language equivalents for the terms in the glossary.

Do you need to brush up on your biology? Check out the Biology Hypertextbook site created by M.I.T. ( It contains eleven chapters on various aspects of the subject, ranging from a review of basic chemistry to a detailed discussion of recombinant DNA. This project is designed to supplement a regular introductory course in biology offered by the university. The chapter on immunology is still under construction.

Of course, science and technology aren’t the only subject areas for which the Internet offers myriad glossaries, both monolingual and bilingual. I have collected glossaries on accounting, economics, taxes, insurance, legal, marketing and advertising, international trade, futures trading, real estate, foreign trade, shipping, and project management, to mention just a few.

There are also some really good engineering and construction-related resources to be found, ranging from Web sites on the design and construction of bridges ( and to masonry terminology ( and a nice glossary of Spanish carpentry terms compliments of the Lowe’s Home Improvement people ( This last one is supposed to include illustrations, but I haven’t figured out how to display them within the Web site.

And just to prove that I’m not totally oriented toward the Spanish language, for those interested in engineering there is a nice German-English-German dictionary of structural engineering terminology at courtesy of the Fakultät Bauingenieurwesen Hochschule Konstanz. Or you can check out the English-Thai civil engineering dictionary ( Another interesting site is a project of the Industrievereinigung Chemiefaser e.V. that is simply called Wörterbuch, but it is a fairly extensive 5-language dictionary of technical terminology (German, English, French, Spanish and Italian). You can find this one at And then there’s the 8-language dictionary of textiles (English, French, Finnish, Swedish, German, Norwegian, Spanish and Italian) at But if you need more information about textiles, be sure to check out for an exhaustive English-language glossary of the terminology in this field.

Do you need to find out how a particular manufacturing sector organizes its plant? Then you should go to, where you can find descriptions in Spanish of over 175 different plant layouts for everything from adhesive tape to toothpicks, complete with detailed manufacturing process flow charts, and a wealth of other information. Believe it or not, this site is the product of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council.

If electricity is your area of interest, you will find a sizeable number of dictionaries and glossaries on this subject. My collection in both English and Spanish includes glossaries on lighting and light bulbs, power supplies, electrical wiring and cables, electrical engineering, capacitors, and electric circuits. However, the really big discovery was not a glossary at all but rather a 6-volume handbook (over 3,000 pages!) on all aspects of electrical design (DC, AC, semiconductors, transistors, and digital circuitry), all of which is current (pun intended) as of January 2006.

Metallurgy and related areas are also well-represented. This includes some excellent glossaries of welding terminology, such as the one at Another good resource on welding can be found at (The same basic site also covers other construction trades (carpentry, electrical construction, plumbing and masonry), in addition to numerous specialized fields of study. For a complete listing see the home page at

The Primary Metals site ( covers both ferrous and nonferrous (aluminum, copper, lead and zinc) and includes schematic drawings of various metallurgical processes. Similar information in Spanish on steelmaking can be found at the INFOACERO site, The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum has created a truly clever Web site that provides a full-color visual tour of the steelmaking process ( For a good glossary on Spanish copper terms with definitions, see the Comisión Chilena del Cobre site at So far I have not uncovered any good Spanish resources on aluminum, but the digging may yet turn something up.

And the list - and the mining operation - continues. You can find glossaries and other resources on virtually any subject: appliances, batteries, jewelry, leather, textiles and shoes, photography, wastewater treatment, logging, ceramics, model railroading, etc. You can even find a trilingual glossary (Spanish, French and English) of disaster terminology at

To be sure, there’s no shortage of esoteric items either, such as the Diccionario de salsa cubana or the Glossary of Indian Nations. How about a glossary of rope terminology? That one ( will be sure to solve your knotty problems! If you’re like most translators/writers, the subject of typography is always fascinating, so you should check out the nice glossary on that subject in Spanish at

Finally, if all that digging makes you hungry, be sure to visit the marvelous Web site offered by the Café Columbus in beautiful Mar Del Plata, Argentina (aka la Cocina de Pasqualino Marchese) for a wonderful menu of fresh seafood dishes, complete with recipes, preparation instructions and mouthwatering color photographs (, not to mention some nice music. This site also includes a nice glossary of culinary ingredients featuring Argentine cuisine, of course.

Until next time, happy surfing!

This article was originally published in The ATA Chronicle.

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