Harrap's Unabridged French-English / English-French Dictionary (2 volumes)
Reviewed by Françoise Herrmann

© 2001 Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd.
ISBN 0245 50434 6 (France)
ISBN 0245 60661 0 (UK)
ISBN 0245 50455 9 (France)
ISBN 0245 60702 1 (UK)

FF 450.00 (Euros 74.70)

Harrap's Unabridged bilingual dictionary of French and English (in 2 volumes, one for each direction of translation) is the most recent, and largest, of the Harrap's collection of bilingual dictionaries. Weighing 5.47 kg (12 lbs), with 425 000 words and expressions, and 750 000 translations, compared to the 305 000 words and 555 000 translations of the Shorter, and the 60 000 translations of the smallest of Harrap's bilingual dictionaries, Harrap's Mini, the Unabridged is indeed the heavy weight champion of a series of 6 bilingual dictionaries offered by Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. in Scotland, UK.

Sporting a cover with the familiar bold crimson letters "HARRAP'S" on a black background, the Unabridged celebrates 100 years of the Harrap's "grand dame" of lexicography, and is intended as the "worthy successor" of the four-volume Harrap Standard dictionary. Designed according to modern principles of "user-friendly" lexicography and linguistics, this dictionary aims far beyond the boring, albeit essential, alphabetical listing of terms and their translations. Among the new and classic features of the Unabridged, you will discover a genuine concern for layout and ease of consultation; dedicated and interesting inclusion of cultural commentary to illuminate definitions and to offer an encyclopedic dimension; outstanding attention directed to standard linguistic variations of both English and French, informed and useful indexing of terms according to various register types, and an ever-constant effort to capture new terminology and to include varying degrees of specialization. These novel and classic features of the Unabridged are sure to please all lovers of print dictionaries, and especially those for whom bilingual dictionaries are indispensable tools of the trade.

The first novelty embodied in this dictionary is driven by a concern for ease of manipulation and navigation. To facilitate consultation of the dictionary and its 750 000 translations the Unabridged is formatted with a three-column layout, and it is color-coded. The color blue serves to highlight all headwords, and to point to grammatical divisions within an article. The rest of the text appears in black print. Additionally, gray, boxed summaries are supplied for terms with multiple meanings and numerous translations. Thus, for example, the ubiquitous English term “get” for which no less than 250 translations are listed, is indexed with a boxed summary referencing the various semantic dimensions of the term, and supplying a short cut to targeting the desired meaning and translation. Conversely, in the French volume, the term “bien” for example, is similarly listed with a summary index pointing to the varied semantic dimensions of the term (See Figure 1).

Figure 1 :Example of boxed summaries to facilitate consultation and to target a desired translation for the French term "BIEN" and the English term "GET".

well > 1(a) - (c); 2(e)

recevoir > 1A (a), (d), (g), (i); B (b)
good > 1(a); 2(a), (b); 3(a), (b)

avoir > 1A (a), (b)
right, correctly > 1(d)

toucher > 1A (a), (b); B(b)
really > 1(g), (i)

trouver > 1A (b), (h)
a lot > 1(h)

obtenir > 1A (b), (h)
at least > 1(I)

tenir > 1A (c)
quite a lot of > 1(o)

offrir > 1A (e)
good-looking > 1(h)

acheter > 1A (f)
nice > 2 (c), (d), (f)

prendre > (f), (k), (l)
good thing > 3 (c)

gagner > 1A (j)
posession, property > 3 (d), (e)

chercher > 1A (j)
OK > 4

attraper > 1A (k), (l); B (a)

réserver > 1A (m)

répondre > 1A (n)

faire faire > 1C (b) -(d)

préparer > 1D (a)

entendre > 1D (b)

comprendre > 1D (d)

atteindre > 1E (a)

devenir > 1A (a), (d)

se faire > 2A (b)

commencer à > 2A (c); B (c)

aller > 2B (a)

réussir à > 2B (e)

The second novelty included in the Unabridged, the inclusion of cultural commentary in the form of an encyclopedic dimension, is driven by modern principles of lexicography. This dimension is apparent in various ways. First, there are small, boxed articles inserted in the listings that supply additional explanation for some culturally loaded terms and expressions. For example the English entry for "GATE" includes a small boxed summary article devoted to the suffix "-GATE" This additional inserted article highlights the origin of the suffix in "Watergate" and explains the generative property of the suffix used to refer generically to scandals such as : "Dianagate", "Monicagate", "Contragate", "Irangate" etc. Similarly, the French entry for "Quai" contains a small additional boxed article explaining how government offices are often referred to by their Street addresses. Hence, the State Department, Police Headquarters, and the French Academy, referred to and located respectively at, "Le Quai d'Orsay", "Le Quai des Orfèvres" and "Le Quai Conti" in Paris.

Secondly, included as part of a novel and expanded encyclopedic dimension, the Unabridged supplies invaluable translations of major works of art, literature, theatre and film. You will find, indexed with small corresponding icons, the official translations for such works as Perrault's (Literature), Tchaikovsky's (Music) or Disney's (Motion Picture) Sleeping Beauty, or for Bolt's (Theatre) and Zimmerman's (Motion Picture), A man for all seasons, not to mention Da Vinci's (Visual Art) The Mona Lisa and Emily Bronte's (Literature) or Wyler's (Motion Picture) Wuthering Heights. With similar processing of the titles of major works in the French to English direction, the inclusion of these translations is sure to save you a world of time consulting library catalogs, or the web, for official translations.

Finally, in the expanded encyclopedic mode of the Unabridged, you will find a series of useful annexes: a comparative chronology of cultural and historical events in the UK and France, spanning from 55 BC to the Y2k +1; a guide to composing correspondence in various modes and media, including email; a comparative chart of military ranks covering the US, the British, the Canadian, the Swiss, and the Belgian Armed Forces; a list of abbreviations and their expansions, including the novel and really useful feature of translations; and a new listing of expressions termed "allusions" referring to famous contemporary phrases that have "immediate connotation for native speakers and forms part of their cultural baggage". Thus, in the "allusions" section you will find cultural explanations and translation for such English phrases as "Not tonight Joséphine", "Read my lips", and "Catch 22"; and conversely, in the French allusions section, you will find explanations for such phrases as "Les deux mon capitaine!", "Le compte est bon", and "Faire avancer le schmilblick".

All of the annexes of the Unabridged are particularly useful depending on your domain of translation. The translated abbreviations annex, however, is one of a kind as abbreviation listings generally omit to supply any existing translations, preferring to remain exclusively explanatory. Thus, you will discover in the English to French direction not only that DTP stands for "desktop publishing" but that the French corresponding abbreviation is "PAO" (publication assistée par ordinateur), and similarly that the "WYSIWYG" interface design principle pronounced "wizzywig" (at least in the US) stands for "What you see is what you get" and that the French translation is "tel écran-tel écrit" or "tel-tel". Conversely in the French to English direction, you will find out that the French abbreviations for NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement), POW (Prisoner of War), and LCM (lowest common multiple) respectively correspond to, ALENA (Accord de libre-échange nord américain), PG (prisonnier de guerre) and PPCM (le plus petit commun multiple). This translated list of abbreviations is exceptionally useful.

Beyond the novelty of color codes and the inclusion of an encyclopedic dimension to circumscribe cultural meaning, the sheer size of the Unabridged corpus (425 000 words and expressions, 750 000 translations) could simply be limited to quantitative linguistic feat. However, the Unabridged not only supplies quantity, it also supplies qualitative linguistic feat. As an experienced publisher of bilingual specialty dictionaries, such as for finance and business, telecommunications, and even slang, Harrap is particularly well positioned to integrate specialized, and up to date terminology, in what stands primarily as a general bilingual dictionary. Thus, you will find the Unabridged inclusive of 50 000 specialized terms in domains as varied as finance, nuclear physics, sports and botany.

Add to this breadth and considerable depth of the Unabridged listing, Harrap's concern for linguistic variation, and you will also find clear indexing of English terms according to standard variations found in American, Scottish, Irish, British and Australian English; as well as indexing of French terms according to standard variations for Belgian, Swiss and Canadian French (including Acadien). This concern for linguistic variation is particularly useful for the American context, since you will not want to loose sight of the fact that the Unabridged is a British product, and you will definitely want to know that a "lorry" is a "truck" in the USA, and similarly that a "dustbin" is a "garbage can", and "knickers" are "womens' underwear" - that is, west of the Atlantic. Likewise, among thousands, the term "toll-free call" is indexed as American with translations "numéro vert" and "appel sans frais" indexed respectively for Canada and France; and the French term "sapeur-pompier" is listed with translations "firefighter" and "fireman" respectively indexed as American and British. Similarly, for the term "email", translations are listed according to standard variations, "Courriel" in Canada and "Courrier électronique, email and mèl" in France. And finally, considering Edinburgh is the publishers home, you will definitely find the Scottish delicatessen "haggis" listed (of all culinary quirks, and as a California vegetarian nightmare), with a clear, albeit lengthy translation, "plat typiquement écossais fait d'une panse de brebis farcie (d'un hachis d' abats et de farine d'avoine très épicé)".

Add still more to this qualitative feast and you will find terms also indexed according to various register types such as formal, familiar, vulgar, archaic, humorous, old fashioned, technical and non technical, and officially recommended. Thus for the English term "drug dependency" you will find translations "toxicomane" and "pharmacodépendance", the latter indexed as "specialized". Similarly, for the French term "épiderme" you will find translations "skin" and "epidermis" with the latter indexed as specialized. In general, multiple indexing of terms for register or for standard language variation, in addition to standard polysemic indexing, is particularly useful to help with targeting a translation and reducing possibilities; and it is especially useful for translators who work in circumscribed domains, both in terms of content and audience.

Finally, in terms of keeping up with novel terminology, in addition to the 50,000 added specialized terms, you will find in the Harrap's Unabridged some interesting inclusions. In English the terms "Infobahn" (autoroute de l'information), "infoaddict" (accro de l'Internet), and the expression "to build a better mousetrap" (élaborer un meilleur produit) have been included, though there is no listing for the American term "chad" and its derivatives: "pregnant chad", "hanging chad", "dimpled chad", "swinging door chad" and "tri-chad" - all the lexical stars of the year 2000 presidential elections in the United States, according to the New York Times (Safire, 2000). In French conversely, you will find inclusion of "W3" (a standard abbreviation for the www) and "Webmestre" (the non-borrowed translation of the term "Webmaster").

Considering those features of the Unabridged that have been reviewed: a genuine concern for ease of consultation; integration of cultural commentary and documentation in a new and added encyclopedic dimension; the quantity and quality of the listings inclusive of multiple indexing, this latest and largest of the Harrap's bilingual dictionaries comes as a most welcome and useful tool for translators. For print lovers, this dictionary truly responds to needs for reliable, voluminous and up to date terminology in the most pleasing manner. However, for those (Generation X, Y and Z and others) who are already deeply acculturated - beyond return - in the digital world, the hope is that such fine and superb scholarship will take the leap back to the origins of user-friendliness, navigational nimbleness, hypertext virtuosity, mega-size corpuses and new-age, post-enlightenment, www-based encyclopedias, so that such unquestionable excellence in lexicography can be propelled with appropriate (and legitimate) tools to further expand its own stated goals. -- Especially considering that Harrap has already successfully ventured in the domain of digital technology for support of its lexicographic endeavors with the bold, endearing and superb steps of the Harrap's Shorter CD-ROM. In the interim, and providing that you have both room and muscle, enjoy! This is newest and most complete of the Harrap's bilingual French-English / English-French dictionaries.

Safire, W. (2000). "Chad: A lexical star is born". Article published in The New York Times Magazine, Dec. 10, 2000.