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Lexicography today

08 Nollaig 2011
Luisa Giacoma, an Italian lexicographer from the University of Turin, Italy, recently visited the Translation Centre to give a presentation about the latest edition of the dictionary 'Nuovo Dizionario di Tedesco' (German- Italian/Italian-German, edited by Zanichelli/Klett, ), which she has compiled together with Susanne Kolb.

​Translators from the Centre’s Italian and German teams, as well as from the Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors, attended the presentation.

Ms Giacoma started her presentation by describing what she had experienced as a real ‘adventure’: the drafting of her dictionary, the first edition of which took her 10 years, the second ‘only’ 5.
She explained in detail the innovative features of the dictionary, the aim of which was to give a clear structure to lemmas (the units of meaning it contained) and to try to tackle the errors to which a dictionary can lead.

Ms Giacoma also compared her dictionary with some of the others available on the market, showing how confusing it can be when the meanings of lemmas are not differentiated systematically. Through a historical overview of dictionaries from the 19th century to today, she made participants aware of the evolution of lexicography, i.e. from a time when lexicographers expressed personal comments on terms and translations (the term ‘politician’ was, for instance, followed by the comment ‘A typical characteristic of a politician is to turn a deaf ear.’), through times when they made a lukewarm attempt to give a structure to the different meanings, to the latest editions which are more organised, but nevertheless not always completely transparent.

Luisa Giacoma’s dictionary contains examples organised in sections, from the most general meaning/use, to a separate section dedicated to idiomatic expressions, thus offering the most efficient help to users.
In conclusion, there is a general tendency in lexicography to include more and more lexical combinations in bilingual dictionaries too (Francesco Urzì recently presented the 'Dizionario delle combinazioni lessicali' at the Translation Centre).

The translators who attended enjoyed the presentation; Ms Giacoma was able to hold their attention with her easy-going way of talking, even on a technical topic like dictionaries. It was interesting to see ‘hinter den Kulissen’ in the making of a dictionary and to be made aware of the active role lexicographer still play in our day and age, in which electronic data processing is a useful tool but cannot replace the competence and the dedication of experts.

Link to the 'Nuovo Dizionario di Tedesco'.