It is our pleasure to present the results of a research project carried out at the Cracow University of Technology and financed with the funds awarded by the Polish National Science Centre. The project was an attempt at creating a database combining terminology from the fields of conservation, restoration and related disciplines, including the equivalents of such terms in other languages. To achieve this goal, we have applied an innovative hierarchical dictionary building system.
The result of the works is a multilingual dictionary, containing terminology from the field of the protection of cultural assets, painting conservation and related disciplines. Given the variety of topics covered and the option of further development, we have decided to call our term base a Multilingual Interdisciplinary Dictionary. When commencing our research project, we could not have foreseen all the difficulties ahead or the final effect of our efforts. Our research has shown, among other things, that though the search for and the selection of equivalents in a bilingual dictionary may be relatively uncomplicated, in the case of a multilingual dictionary, especially when it comes to the terms referring to theoretical notions, names of processes and objects (e.g. tools), the task may involve significant difficulties. Additionally, a number of problems stem from the ambiguity of the terms, which are construed and defined differently depending on the language area.
The aim of the project was not to define, and, in consequence, organise terminology – this is why we have given up, as a rule, independent development of definitions or entries, and we relied on the source literature instead. Our selection of quotations is primarily motivated by the value of terminology used, and not by the correctness of specific conservation procedures or the accuracy of the definition. This applies in particular to conservation techniques, as accelerated technological progress in this area has made many popular methods obsolete. Our Dictionary is a lexical reference resource and should not be treated as a textbook for learning craftsmanship or conservation techniques. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that – as a result of scientific progress – also the definitions contained in legislative documents, biological taxonomies or names of chemical compounds become outdated. Therefore, the texts included in the Dictionary should not be treated as encyclopaedic.
One of key assumptions we have made is to make our Dictionary public and open to modifications and corrections reflecting scientific development and needs. To create our terminological database we have used computer software which was custom-made for us. This system enables further extension of the terminological database by adding new scientific disciplines, new chapters and additional language versions.
Our experience in the project has shown that the translation of specialist academic texts requires close cooperation of academics with relevant expertise and linguists with high translation competence. We are aware of the fact that, due to the vastness of topics covered, the risk of errors is high. We are sorry for any errors that may have occurred. We welcome your comments, suggestions and critical feedback.
Monika Bogdanowska, Andreas Komodziński