TERMIUM® 2001 (CD-ROM)
Reviewed by Françoise Herrmann

ISBN 0-660-61606-8
Public works and Government Services, Canada
Travaux publics et Services Gouvernementaux, Canada
$ 395.00 (initial purchase)
$ 325.00 (update)


If there is one electronic tool for translators, which is well launched on the R&D (research and development) track of super growth and quantum leaps of innovation, it has to be TERMIUM®! If you have been keeping track of Microsoft Word from version one to version 2001, you will be pleased to know that TERMIUM® has logged on to a similar stellar trajectory. The new TERMIUM® 2001 CD-ROM is packed with innovations: a completely revamped and dazzling tri-lingual, French-English-Spanish, interface; 3 million terms - that is a twofold (!) increase compared to the 1999 version; 95 000 updated records; and the inclusion of 100 000 Spanish terms. You are bound to be impressed. Allow me perhaps to serve as your guide.

TERMIUM® is a linguistic database, now the largest in the world for French and English terms. The new 2001 CD-ROM version also includes 118 000 Spanish terms. Beyond the sheer size of this database, which exceeds even the largest and combined compilations of the French-English institutional bilingual dictionary giants, whether in print or in electronic versions, it is the process underlying the design of TERMIUM® that fuels the unique and spectacular development of this tool. Prior to becoming a commercial venture available for public benefit, TERMIUM® is the linguistic database of the Canadian Bureau of Translation. This means that it is a tool that is constantly being updated and used by the Bureau's 40 (forty!) terminologists and 800 (eight-hundred!) translators. As a result, this is a tool that was developed, and constantly continues to be developed, by and for translators. The daily turnaround of translations, processed by those translators and terminologists over the course of several decades, is at the root of this project. TERMIUM® is thus far more than a comprehensive and extensive compilation of terms and their translations; it is a tool constantly fueled by the occurring needs of translators, and the demands of translations for which sometimes no precedence of terminology exists. It is a tool constantly in the making, and thus perhaps uniquely positioned to keep up with the terminological frontier.

In terms of the organization of its content, TERMIUM® also presents a unique format. It is a hybrid in the world of dictionary tools: part monolingual dictionary, part trilingual dictionary, part glossary, and part encyclopedia. TERMIUM® spans multiple domains of general, specialized and ultra-specialized terminology, supplying definitions, examples, translations and bibliographic references, selectively, for the terms listed. For the translator this clearly means an unprecedented wealth of fingertip information in a single database, where normally multiple reference sources would be required and countless hours of research.

TERMIUM® supplies, for example, an excellent reference for ultra specialized terms in the domain of chemical formulas. Whether you are translating the chemical ingredients of a cosmetic product, or those of a carbonated beverage, you will find TERMIUM® an excellent and invaluable reference tool. For example, with the click of a mouse, you will find translation for an ingredient such as "BHT" [butylated hydroxytoluene, hydroxytoluène butylé in French], including a definition: "A white crystalline, water-insoluble and liposoluble solid. An antioxidant stabilizer for fats", to tune you a little more precisely into the kind of substance conerned. Similarly, TERMIUM® provides a treasure of information for terminology in the ultra specialized domains of defense, medical and dental technology to name just a few of these domains that reflect incursions into the terminological frontier. And even for the more mundane, you may find terms listed that do not appear in the institutional giants, as for example the ubiquitous and illustrious term "chad" [confetti], lexical star of the presidential elections of the year 2000 in the USA.

And because of the hybrid dimensions of its organization -because it lists in many cases much more than just a translation- TERMIUM® is an invaluable tool for translators working all to often in domains unrelated or unknown to their own backgrounds or fields of specialization. In a monolingual dictionary mode you will find illuminating definitions and succinct explanations of obscure terms; in the glossary mode you will find expressions and phrases inclusive of a particular term and indexing according to domains of usage; in the bilingual dictionary mode sometimes several translations for a term; and finally in the encyclopedic mode you will find source and additional reference for a term, including additional indexing according to such criteria as established or standardized usage. It is this combination of breadth and depth of terminological processing, constantly updated and manipulated by the Translation Bureau staff, that makes TERMIUM® a unique and invaluable tool for translators. And for all TERMIUM® fans who already know all of this, the 2001 version has increased this breadth and depth of terminological processing with two million more terms!

And there is still much more good news. Under the impact of commercialization and market forces, the TERMIUM® 2001 CD-ROM version has been vastly "sanitized". Where critics of the 1999 CD-ROM version, deplored the presence of spelling mistakes, repetitions and incompleteness of records, you will find an overhauled TERMIUM® 2001 version sporting sparkling articles, each dated, consistently presented, carefully proofed and composed. And with the sanitation of the content comes a completely revamped interface, similar in appearance to TERMIUM Plus®, the on-line version, available on a monthly or yearly subscription basis. (See the screen snapshot in Fig. 1).

With the new and really user-friendly TERMIUM® 2001 CD-ROM interface, available in French, English or Spanish, you choose the search key (the language of the records searched), type in your term, and the search results are returned immediately in the split screen. On the left of the screen appears the highlighted hit, and on the right, the display of the record(s) corresponding to the targeted term. A summary of the results by domain appears in the subject field drop down menu, which allows you to select the translation domain when several records are returned, or you can browse all of the records returned using the "next" or "previous" buttons at the bottom of the window. What is more you do not need perfect spelling, nor accents in French, to target your search term since there is a built-in spell-checker that automatically re-formulates, or approximates your searched item. Querying options include use of Boolean operators, and "*" or "?" wildcard shortcuts. A bookmarking function allows you to view all of the terms you have searched previously, and to call up anyone of those records anew. Print, Copy and Save functions for the records are also available. And a preferences window allows to set screen size and other parameters such as the language of the interface, the default search key, and the order of languages of the records displayed.

Fig. 1: Screen snapshot of the new TERMIUM® 2001 CD-ROM interface.


The three million terms contained in TERMIUM® 2001 on CD-ROM require a Pentium PC, running Windows 95 or a later version, a double speed CD-ROM drive, 16 MB of RAM, and a minimum of 13 MB of free space on hard disk. Standard, complete or partial, installation options of the software are available so that you can use TERMIUM®, either with or without the CD-ROM. Included with the databases containing three million terms there are also three of the Translation Bureau's publications: the Canadian Style Manual, Le guide du rédacteur, a style manual for French, and the Lexique Analogique, a cross-referenced bilingual thesaurus designed specially for tough-to-translate terms.

When you do not have an Internet connection, and you are not using a Macintosh system, TERMIUM® 2001 on CD-Rom provides you with almost all of the advantages of TERMIUM Plus® on-line. You will have fingertip access to three million terms, in general, specialized and ultra-specialized domains, with definitions, examples, multiple translations and reference sources, even if these terms are not constantly updated on a monthly basis, and increased, as for online TERMIUM Plus®; and even if you cannot readily contribute to the development, and collection of terms by submitting entries of your own, directly online to the Translation Bureau. You will have style manuals for both French and English, and a specially designed translatorís thesaurus, even you do not also have access to the selection of excellent articles, in modern comparative stylistics, culled from the Translation Bureau's quarterly publication Terminology Update. And most importantly, you will have a copy of the most current version (or cut-off point) of the TERMIUM® databases, the largest existing French-English terminological databases, which cover about 25 years of research and development, by hundreds of translators, and scores of terminologists, in a unique and exemplary process of terminological compilation and multiple genre organization.

For anyone working in French and English translation on a professional basis, and increasingly from and to Spanish, TERMIUM® is an absolute necessity. You need not scorn, or throw out, any of your favorite and existing resources, but you would be short-changing yourself immensely by not taking advantage of this privileged access, granted by the Canadian Translation Bureau. Try it! Or enjoy the new expanded and dazzling 2001 version! Either way, I assure you that you will not be disappointed.

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