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Featured Article from The ATA Chronicle (August 2006)

Glossary Mining: Down Tunnel Number 2
By Lee Wright

In the first installment on this topic, which appeared in the June issue (pages 24-25), I focused primarily on a simple way to use Google (or just about any other search engine) to unearth a variety of specialized glossaries, from the potentially useful to the downright ridiculous. However, that exercise only went partway down the mineshaft, so I turned my attention to excavating a little deeper.

To start off, I modified my searching techniques. Instead of using the key word combinations "intitle:glossary/dictionary of" and "intitle:glosario/diccionario de" as in

past searches, the next step was to use "intitle:<subject>glossary/glosario," where <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, and articles. I also 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.

As a result of applying this search methodology, my printed list of websites now runs about 30 pages long, with well over 1,000 different URLs ranging in subject matter from agriculture to zoology. Needless to say, due to the large number of URLs collected, it has been necessary to organize everything in separate subfolders within my browser's Favorites list.

In some cases this new approach to glossary mining yielded very interesting (and surprising) results, as you shall see from the listings below.


The Nine Planets: A Multimedia
Tour of the Solar System
I am especially fond of this site because it 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.


Biology Hypertextbook
If you need to brush up on your biology, check out this site created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It contains 11 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.


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 lightbulbs, power supplies, electrical wiring and cables, electrical engineering, capacitors, and electric circuits. However, the really big discovery was not a glossary at all but a six-volume handbook (over 3,000 pages!) on all aspects of electrical design (direct current, alternating current, semiconductors, transistors, and digital circuitry), all of which is current (pun intended) as of January 2006. The link is .

Here are a few links to other resources on electricity I have found very useful:


Bridge Design and Construction

Carpentry Terms
This is a nice glossary of Spanish carpentry terms compliments of the Lowe's Home Improvement people. It is supposed to include illustrations, but I have not figured out how to display them within the website.


Masonry Terminology

Dictionary of Structural Engineering

Civil Engineering Dictionary

(German, English, French, Spanish, and Italian)
Das Wörterbuch
A project of the Industrievereinigung Chemiefaser e.V., this is a fairly extensive five-language dictionary of technical terminology.

(English, French, Finnish, Swedish, German, Norwegian, Spanish, and Italian) Dictionary of Textiles
This is a very good dictionary, 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.


Glossary of Indian Nations

Glossary of Rope Terminology

Glosario de tipografía
If you are like most translators/writers, the subject of typography is always fascinating, so you should check out this excellent Spanish glossary.


Atlas of Rocks, Minerals, and Textures
If you happen to be a rock hound, this is a fascinating site developed by the University of North Carolina. It provides detailed photographs and descriptions of numerous rocks and minerals.

Dictionary of Applied Geology
(English, French, German, Spanish)

For translation purposes you cannot beat this hefty (over 200 pages) quadrilingual glossary of geology terms. 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 source-language term.


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 and contain illustrations and sometimes even “working” representations (i.e., animations) of a particular device. Some of the best ones are listed below. Tip: If you cannot 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 or for a specific translation project.

Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
This is one of the best illustrated glossaries available.

The Plastics Resources Educators Program
This is a really simple but effective animated website (but not a glossary per se) depicting the plastic blow molding process.

Proceso Productivo Siderúrgico
Another nicely illustrated site is the one by InfoAcero, which provides excellent multicolor drawings of the various processes involved in steelmaking (all in Spanish).

Illustrated Glossary of Pumps
I especially like this site from the Animated Software Company, which not only offers photographs, but also animated illustrations of various pumps in action.


Plant Layout
This site provides 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. This site is the product of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council. h ttp://


Welding Glossary
An excellent glossary of welding terminology. (welding)
The site also covers other construction trades (carpentry, electrical construction, plumbing, and masonry), in addition to numerous specialized fields of study.

The Primary Metals Site
This site covers both ferrous and nonferrous (aluminum, copper, lead, and zinc), and includes schematic drawings of various metallurgical processes.

This site contains information in Spanish on steelmaking.

The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum has created this truly clever site that provides a full-color visual tour of the steelmaking process.

Comisión Chilena del Cobre
This is an excellent Spanish glossary of copper terms, complete with definitions.

So far, I have not uncovered any good Spanish resources on aluminum, but the digging may yet turn something up.


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 are 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] website, which contains links to a wide range of Spanish-language articles on different subjects, including some that provide excellent multi-part discussions on mining, such as:

Apuntes de Geología de Minas

Métodos de explotación más comunes en minería subterránea

Dictionary of Mining, Minerals, and Related Terms

Glossary of Mining Terms
When you put these glossaries all together, you can produce a fairly comprehensive bilingual glossary.



Diccionario de nanotecnología
For those interested in leading-edge scientific research, you should check out the excellent Spanish-language glossary of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology Now
This is an excellent English-language glossary on the same subject.



Daley & Daley Organic Chemistry
This site contains a marvelously detailed and completely free textbook on organic chemistry. It consists of 25 chapters and five appendices in PDF format that can be downloaded and printed, all of which was updated in July 2005.

La Química Orgánica
As an excellent complement to the English-language work listed above, this site in Spain provides a similar comprehensive introduction to the subject of organic chemistry.

Paper Product Terminology
An extremely useful six-language glossary (Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese).


Though not exactly a glossary per se, the website of International Paper provides a wonderful overview of the steps involved in the papermaking process, as well as the principal terminology. For best results, a small program, known as a plugin, from iPIX will speed the download time for each of the photos in this virtual tour. Your computer may already have this plugin, but if it does not, you will be asked if you would like to download it (this download is very quick).


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, including:

Glossary on Plastics

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.



And the list—and the mining operation—continues. You can find glossaries and other resources on virtually any subject. I even found a trilingual glossary (Spanish, French, and English) of disaster terminology at

Finally, if all that digging makes you hungry, be sure to visit the marvelous website offered by the Café Columbus in beautiful Mar Del Plata, Argentina (a.k.a. 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. The site ( ) also includes an excellent glossary of culinary ingredients featuring Argentine cuisine.

Until next time, happy digging!

Lee Wright has been an ATA member since 1975, and is ATA-certified (Spanish-to-English). He served two terms as an ATA director and four years as editor of The ATA Chronicle . After working eight years as the in-house translator for a major international engineering and construction firm, he started freelancing in 1982. From 1990 to 2004, he was an adjunct associate professor of Spanish translation at Kent State University (Institute for Applied Linguistics). He currently teaches online courses in Spanish-to-English legal and technical translation for New York University. Contact: