Uzbek Practical Dictionary: Uzbek-English/English-Uzbek
Reviewed by: Shelley Fairweather-Vega
Author: Aleksey Radjabov
Publisher: Hippocrene Books
Publication Date: 2015
Number of pages: 498 pages
Available from: www.hippocrenebooks.com
To many people the name Uzbekistan conjures up earthquake-ravaged countries like Haiti, Japan, and, recently, Nepal. Indeed, among the first responders to natural catastrophes like earthquakes have been Doctors without Borders, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning non-governmental organization (NGO), and members of another nonprofit NGO called Translators without Borders. Efforts to provide and satisfy humanitarian needs in the early stages following a disaster is of paramount importance. The need for effective communication in disaster situations cannot be overemphasized, especially most often between doctors and the population. For those who are interested in the Uzbek language, here is a review of their dictionary by Shelley Fairweather-Vega, an illustrious ATA-certified translator.
The Uzbek Practical Dictionary, which was released by Hippocrene this year, goes a long way toward expanding the short list of English<>Uzbek dictionaries currently available. Unfortunately, however, this quantitative improvement has not resulted in much of a qualitative improvement in current Uzbek<>English reference sources.
The dictionary is nicely printed and bound in a softcover format. It opens with a short phonetic guide to Uzbek pronunciation and a brief overview of the history of the language, formalities of address, and regional dialects. There is also a listing of the most popular historical sites in Uzbekistan, and the last few pages offer translations of common conversational phrases in both languages.
The bulk of the dictionary consists of single-word entries in two sections: first Uzbek>English, and then English>Uzbek. One great advantage to this compilation is that all Uzbek entries, in both sections, are listed in both the old Cyrillic and the newer Latin Uzbek alphabets. Most previous print dictionaries have chosen either one alphabet or the other. Here, the Latin-alphabet rendering of each word is listed first, followed immediately by the Cyrillic-alphabet version.
The alphabetization system in this dictionary means that all Uzbek words starting with sh are listed near the end of the alphabet, where the equivalent Cyrillic letter ш is found, instead of being filed where other Latin-alphabet users might expect to find them, between words starting with se and words starting with si. Meanwhile, all Uzbek words with a Latin-alphabet spelling starting with y are grouped together, regardless of whether their Cyrillic spellings start with й, я, е, ё, or ю.
This may be a perfectly legitimate approach to the problem of transliteration between Uzbek systems, and choices do have to be made. However, no explanation is given in the dictionary itself, so the user has to be clever enough to figure it out without help.
For Tourists or Translators?
These alphabet problems are things a professional translator or linguist can handle, but they might prove baffling for the casual business traveler, tourist, or student. Judging from the content of the dictionary, though, I have trouble determining who exactly the intended users of this book are: people who know nothing about Uzbek and just need a phrasebook, or people who already know enough to navigate both languages well on their own?
On the one hand, the dictionary has several features that travelers would find useful, including some of the sections listed above. It’s billed as a “practical” dictionary, and it does include practical entries, from “men’s room” to “emergency room.” There are also plenty of entries for words that are essentially identical in the two languages and that might be considered to needlessly take up space. Scanning one page in the Uzbek>English section reveals entries for reaktor, “realist,” “regional,” resurs, and “robot.” No plurals are given for nouns and no pronunciation information is provided. This would seem to indicate that the imagined users of this dictionary are English speakers who might need to quickly come up with one word at a time to muddle through some routine social interaction, where precision, style, and even grammar are unimportant.
If these casual users do care about grammar, this dictionary would leave them disappointed. As a Turkic language, Uzbek is agglutinative, so a phrase like “in my opinion” is rendered by the single word fikrimcha, built from the elements fikr (opinion) + im (my) + cha (“according to”). This dictionary has entries for fikr in the Uzbek portion and “opinion” in the English portion. However, no clues are provided to the uninitiated regarding how to either get to the phrase “in my opinion” or to dissect the word fikrimcha. There are no entries in the Uzbek portion for grammatical elements showing possession (as in –im) or other postpositions (like –cha).
Likewise, the Uzbek>English portion offers no help for verbal affixes that probably deserve their own entries, such as –adigan, or for Uzbek compound verbs (though some are listed). Most bilingual reference texts cover these important elements of syntax with a guide to grammar, sentence structure, and word order that lists postpositions, verb endings that indicate tense and voice, and so on. This book does not. These grammatical black holes would seem to indicate that the dictionary would best serve someone who already knows all about Uzbek and English syntax: not a tourist, and not a beginning language learner.
But for more in-depth work, which is the kind a translator would be engaged in most often, this dictionary also falls short. The definitions given are minimalist, with each entry offering only a part of speech, sometimes a field of use (e.g., legal, religious, and technical), and most often a single-word equivalent in the other language. No additional contextual information is offered, and neither are alternative spellings. (For example, the English section lists “aesthetic” but not “esthetic,” and no regional spelling differences were found for Uzbek words.) Verbs in both languages are provided only in the infinitive. Synonyms are in short supply in entries in both languages, so the dictionary cannot serve as a thesaurus.
A larger problem is that alternative meanings are given short shrift. For example, what follows is the entire entry for the English word “court”:
- court n. leg. суд / sud, судя / sudya
Two related Uzbek words are offered for “court of law” and “judge,” but no other definitions of “court” in English are explained (e.g., no tennis courts, no courting by a romantic suitor).
Looking up “sud” in the Uzbek>English section helpfully yields several noun phrases starting with that word, including Uzbek legal phrases rendered in English as “venue,” “injunction,” and “jury.” But this list also lacks some fundamentals. For instance, the Uzbek entry sud protsessi lists the English equivalents “lawsuit” and “litigation,” but not the more general terms “hearing,” “trial,” or “proceedings.” The English>Uzbek entries for the words “hearing,” “trial,” and “proceeding” do not offer any Uzbek equivalents of those terms in a legal context.
The dictionary makes no claims at specialization, and is actually too short to cover the vocabulary in any particular field very well. It leaves out vulgarities altogether, which is disappointing for anyone tasked with understanding and translating modern literature or colloquial speech. It makes a good attempt at including up-to-date computer terminology, including terms like “toolbar” and “authorization code” in both languages, but other simple, related terms are skipped. For instance, there is no Uzbek given for the noun or verb “code” as it relates to computer programming, and no indication as to whether the Uzbek word for “cloud” can be used in the sense of cloud computing.
The Uzbek Practical Dictionary is best for non-professional use in a low-stakes environment by a reader who either does not need or does not care about the details. It provides enough information to do some good for the casual user, but not nearly enough to serve as an authoritative source for the professional translator.
Shelley Fairweather-Vega is an ATA-certified Russian>English translator and an enthusiastic Uzbek>English translator, living and working in Seattle, Washington. Specializing in both legal and creative texts, she translates mainly for authors, attorneys, activists, and academics. Contact: email@example.com.
English-Serbian Medical Dictionary (Serbian title: Englesko-Srpski Medicinski Renik)
Reviewed by: Rudolf Vedo
Author: S.P. Djordjevic
Publisher: Jordana Publishing
Publication Date: 2014, first edition
Price: $139.95 (CD-ROM)
Number of Entries:
Over 58,000 main terms
37,182 main entries
Available from: www.jordanapublishing.com
For the fifth time in seven years, we are publishing a review of a medical dictionary. One may wonder why this emphasis on medical dictionaries. For one thing—as any member of ATA’s Medical Division can tell you—medical dictionaries are much needed specialized dictionaries for which there are no substitutes. Another reason is that medical vocabulary is evolving constantly. This not only due to advances in medical science, but also because of the fact that spelling may change—in countries which are part of the British Commonwealth more than in the United States. (This is one reason why it is important to know if the customer/recipient of the translation is British or American.) The following is a review of an English-Serbian medical dictionary.
The English-Serbian Medical Dictionary is a CD-ROM with linked PDF files that can be read with Adobe Acrobat Reader. The Autorun file will call up an index, or the user can navigate directly to the Lexicon folder containing individual PDF files organized according to the starting letter of the headword. Opening any of the lettered Lexicon files will open the PDF file for that letter and enable the user to either scroll to the desired point in the file or search for a particular term using the search box. The search option allows you to search the entire dictionary, but faster results will be obtained if the search is narrowed to a specific letter. The standard PDF search options (match case, stemming, all words) are available. If you don’t want the annoyance of having to insert the CD into the computer, workarounds are possible by copying the contents of the Lexicon folder to a fixed or removable drive, or creating a disk image and mounting it to run with a virtual player.
Because the dictionary is searchable electronically, it’s theoretically possible to also use it in the reverse direction (Serbian>English), although a search will hit on any reference to a Serbian word found throughout the entries, not only in the headwords, so it will be necessary to weed through some of the results. If your primary need is for the into-English direction, Djordjevic’s Croatian and Serbian to English Medical Dictionary is a more practical solution. However, it’s certainly possible to envision situations where a (normally) into-English linguist would make use of this dictionary. (For example, an interpreter preparing for a medical interpreting assignment, or someone who needs to have a source for double-checking their translation choices as a form of back-translation.) Still, the dictionary is primarily aimed at into-Serbian linguists, since they will be able to obtain the most functionality from the dictionary, especially given its structure and technical setup.
The graphical layout is pleasing, with headwords in brown/bold type and entries in normal type. Compound headwords can be found under the main headword. For example, the various types of biopsies are listed under “Biopsy.” For those who prefer browsing for an entry rather than using the search function, the headword index of each PDF file includes the second and sometimes third letter of the headword, making it easy to scroll through the index and arrive in close proximity to the term for which you are looking.
Pronunciation notes are not used, nor are indications of obsolete terminology (e.g., idiocy/idiotizam). However, Djordjevic points out that this is intentional, since there is no standard in English medical literature by which it could be known whether a term is obsolete or not. Djordjevic also notes that the various standard monolingual English medical dictionaries (Dorland’s, Stedman’s, and Taber’s Cyclopedic) do not have a uniform approach to the issues of obsolete terminology.
In general, the content is oriented toward clinical medicine. There are a few entries relating to clinical trials and the regulatory context. Terms such as “investigator,” “Good Clinical Practice (GCP),” “Investigational [Medicinal] Product (IMP),” “Ethics Committee,” and “Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)” are not included. “Protocol” is included as protokol, although the Serbian term has at least two other meanings outside a clinical trial context. Overall, the omissions are curious considering that many medical translators spend a significant portion of their time on clinical trials and other regulatory documentation. To be fair, the work is not marketed specifically as a pharmaceutical dictionary, but this would seem to be a largely artificial distinction.
While terms such as “medical/medicinal” are included on their own, common collocations such as “medical device” (medicinsko sredstvo) and “medicinal product” (lek) are missing.
Some terms are included with the abbreviations, but not as individual headwords. For example, the term “stem cell” appears as part of the abbreviation SCB (Stem Cell Bank), but does not appear under its own headword.
Surgical techniques often present translation challenges. This is because surgical reports are not among the most commonly translated documents and the names of many techniques are often not of familiar Latin origin, or else the translations are not otherwise easily deducible. Fortunately, Djordjevic helpfully provides translations for an entire list of suturing techniques, including interrupted, continuous, harmonic, and dentate.
The Serbian names/spellings of common generic drugs are also included, such as warfarin (varfarin), clopidogrel (klopidogrel), and clonazepam (klonazepam).
For the term “osteopathy,” which is given as osteopatija, it would help to clarify the fact that this usage applies only to a European context (as alternative medicine). In the U.S., the term “osteopathy” is no longer permitted to describe a scope of practice. The term “osteopathic medicine” is used, but refers to training and practices that are largely equivalent to those of allopathic physicians. Since the use of the Serbian term osteopat for a U.S. osteopathic physician would be inaccurate, and Serbian has no separate term for the latter, a note about the difference in usage would be helpful to the reader.
I also noted that “QL” is described as the abbreviation for “Quality of Life.” However, “QoL” is at least as common, but is not offered as a headword or cross-reference.
Aside from the issues listed above, this dictionary is extremely comprehensive, with exhaustive coverage of anatomical and clinical terminology, with listings for all of the nerves, muscles, blood vessels, diseases, procedures, and anatomical formations that I queried as a sample. However, as previously mentioned, I hope that future editions will include more regulatory terminology and terminology related to clinical trials. In addition, although Djordjevic stated his reasons for not identifying obsolete or dated terminology, I still believe that such identifiers would be helpful for preventing accidental misuse.
Still, these minor quibbles do not detract from the overall usefulness of the dictionary, which is both comprehensive in its primary, clinical focus as well as easy to use. It would make an excellent addition to the professional translator’s library.
Rudolf Vedo is an ATA-certified Croatian>English translator who works from Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, and German into English. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.