Part 3 – Multilingual websites – the fruits and the pitfalls

Multilingual websites are the perfect place to find terminology used in context. Particularly useful in my field (law) are the websites of the European Union, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the European Patent Office. Fast access to multilingual websites can also be obtained via Linguee.

Check the source

Again, do check the source before accepting what you find on multilingual websites. There are both fruits and pitfalls out there. Not every website available in more than one language has been translated well by a professional translator. If your term is so remote that you do have to rely on less authoritative sources, do cross-check your potential term in a monolingual dictionary to make sure that the term is indeed a suitable translation.

Practical hints and tips

After I started writing this post I remembered where it was that I first learnt about effectively searching multilingual websites. It was back in around 2003 when I was at the very beginning of my career working as an in-house legal translator at a large commercial law firm and it was at a course entitled Research Techniques for Translators in Zurich which was the first course I was ever sent on. I just googled the course and was happy to see that Tanya Harvey Ciampi is still running the course, albeit in a slightly different format. She has a lot of useful tools on her website which you can access here: and I also found this short YouTube video which might be of interest to some of you:

Create your own TM

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation first made the Translation Memory of its Acquis communautaire publically accessible in 2007. It was most recently updated in 2012. This is an excellent resource, not only for legal translators but also for translators in other fields. It claims to be the biggest parallel corpus taking account of the number of translation units and the number of languages it covers. The instructions for downloading the relevant language files for your working languages and how to create the files to load into your TM can be found here It is not as complicated as it may look at first glance and is a terminology goldmine. If you are working with Trados Studio, don’t forget to use your newly created TM to produce an Autosuggest dictionary for yourself too.

Research techniques for translators

With masses and masses of information available on the internet and the correct translation of any unknown term potentially only a few clicks away, translators in the 21st century are better equipped than ever to carry out the research they need to do to produce accurate translations of their source text documents. I’m pretty happy to make the assumption that any recent translation school graduates will be more than comfortable using the internet but I’m wondering to what extent specific research techniques – both online and offline – are taught as part of translation degree programmes these days and to what extent translation teachers, who do not and have not translated 9 to 5, are in a position to teach the most effective methods. In fact, it wasn’t until I was asked to help out a new freelance translator with a couple of difficult terms in her latest translation assignment and in preparation for discussing research techniques with her, that I actually consciously considered what it is that I actually do automatically when researching an unknown term. This week my blog will therefore be dedicated to research techniques.

Look out for the following posts:

Part 1 – Bilingual dictionaries and glossaries (online and offline)

Part 2 – Monolingual dictionaries and encyclopaedia (online and offline)

Part 3 – Multilingual websites – the fruits and the pitfalls

Part 4 – The secret power of search engines

Part 5 – Corpora and parallel texts