Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A Question of Vocabulary

When I tried to translate my Curriculum Vitae for the first time I got stumped. I think I'm not that bad at writing in English, but I then took the measure of a whole panel of professional vocabulary that I deeply missed. Though I read in English a lot, I had never had the occasion to really encounter specific librarianship vocabulary. I was at loss. So I scoured the Internet for help and here are the resources I found.

* The most interesting resource I found is this Multilingual Glossary for Art Librarians in the archives of IFLA. Even though it contains a lot of art-related vocabulary, it also gives good definitions and translates many useful librarianship words from English to French but also Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish! It's really an invaluable resources and I can't recommend it enough.

* This one is a glossary in French with translated terms in English proposed by Geneva's university. It focuses more on reference research and it's less complete than IFLA' glossary, but it's more easily readable to French-speaking professionals and the definitions are clear.

* This librarianship lexicon is proposed by the French Bibliothèque Publique d'Information and proposes the translation of 1 500 words from French to English, Spanish, Catalan and Czech. The file is a bit heavy, resulting in some lagging, and I would emit some doubts on the translation of a few words. But it's easily searchable and it still is a useful resource.

* Finally, when in doubt for more general expressions, I've been using Linguee. Its search engine compares millions of bilingual texts like EU official documents or patents. I like that it enables us to see the translated words in context in both languages.

Finally, what is really helping me putting all this new vocabulary into practise is reading and interacting with British professionals. I've been reading Cilip Update with great wonder (and have been passing it around to my colleagues!) and have picked up many words while reading it (the "digital divide" will be forever stuck in my mind now! In French we call it "fracture numérique"). I've also now an enormous folder of RSS feeds pointing to British librarian bloggers that I began to find here and there. I've been systematically following all of them on Twitter and it's a pleasure to hear fresh library news from the other side of the Channel. I'm really grateful for being able to communicate with all of them, it's really a great pleasure and honour to witness from afar their interesting discussions.

Thanks to all of these resources, I certainly have become better at expressing myself professionally in English. But there are still many words on which I'm not certain. Maybe you could help me?
I'm in particular thinking about the word "veille" which we use to describe the action of watching closely certain resources so as to stay on top of information in a particular domain (as in following RSS feeds or using software as Website Watcher)?
What do you call it when library assistants put bar codes and anti-theft devices on documents (to us it's "équipement")?
And what about the process of "exemplarisation", when you signal different copies of a same document under its bibliographical entry?

If you have some answers to these questions or if you want to share your own favourite resources for librarianship vocabulary, please do post them in the comments!

Licence Creative CommonsThe above photo was taken by me in Paris, in April 2013.
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  1. Yesterday I asked a librarian the word for "cote"... He so did NOT understand me I felt stupid. Thanks to the IFLA Glossary (and you), I know now it is a "class number", but it doesn't seem as accurate as "cote"...

    1. Translation in a professional context is a daily nightmare, isn't it? :)