From Kernerman to Password
Kernerman Publishing published its first semi-bilingual dictionary
in Israel in January 1986. The fact that it was a Hebrew version of A. S. Hornby's Oxford Student's
Dictionary of Current English, and was approved by the education
authorities, contributed to its success. Yet the most essential
factor in making it enormously popular was the user-friendly
nature of its lexicographic approach. It fast became a national
K Dictionaries Ltd
It was followed by an Arabic version for Israel, with subsequent editions
for the Middle East and worldwide. This was the first in the
Kernerman Semi-Bilingual Dictionaries series, whose English core
is based on Harrap or Chambers learner's dictionaries. Italian, Greek and French editions appeared under licence by other publishers
beginning in 1989.
The term semi-bilingual was coined by Lionel Kernerman to describe
the new lexicographic concept, for want of a better name for
this hybrid dictionary. Zanichelli
Editore termed their Italian version mono-bilingual. Dr Reinhard Hartmann,
head of the Dictionary
Research Centre at the University of
Exeter, refers to it simply as a bilingualised dictionary.
The significance of this terminology is of little concern to
the general public, for whom the semi-bilingual dictionary is
first and foremost an easy-to-use English dictionary with translations
in the mother tongue. Thus, the dictionary made its reputation
on the basis of its features, rather than its name.
Among the first to realize the innovativeness of this "learning
tool" outside of Israel was Roger Turcotte, director of
Modulo Editeur in Montreal. Modulo launched a successful marketing campaign, which
made their semi-bilingual edition the best-selling English dictionary
in French-speaking Canada. They called it PASSWORD.
"Password" means a "secret word or phrase used
by somebody to indicate to somebody else...that he is a friend
rather than an enemy" (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
4/e, OUP 1989). As it contains the word "friend", this
definition is appropriate here for underlying the user-friendliness
of Password dictionaries.
When the Spanish, Portuguese and Czech editions appeared in 1991, their publishers
decided to use Password in the titles. Other publishers later
adopted this title as they already had textbooks with a similar
name, while some preferred a title in their own language.
To date there are semi-bilingual
versions in nineteen languages, and
a dozen more in preparation. While the basic concept remains
the same everywhere, the publisher in each country decides upon
the most suitable dictionary design and format for the local
market, as well as the promotion strategy for that country.
Following its appearance in southern Europe, the semi-bilingual
dictionary was well received in most eastern European countries.
Its reputation is spreading out to northern Europe as well, as
indicated first by the Finnish edition published last year by WSOY, and then by a Swedish edition due to be published
at the end of this year by Studentlitteratur*.
This trend is growing, while new attitudes are taking shape.
The relatively high ELT standard in western countries led to
assume that their existing methods were satisfactory, but the
new ideas about language-learning are causing a reassessment
of the role of the semi-bilingual dictionary.
Whereas this increasing recognition is salutary, seeking new
ways to improve the semi-bilingual dictionary goes on constantly.
While we esteem it as the best type of dictionary presently available
for learners of English, Password may not necessarily be the
Twenty-five years ago Kernerman
Publishing began publishing English
language textbooks, and soon became one of Israel's leading ELT
publishers. During the past decade it has branched out into the
field of learner's dictionaries and extensive collaborations
with publishers throughout the world.
The growth of this global aspect of our publishing activities
led to setting up a new company, whose role is the coordination
of international contacts. The recently-established Password
Publishers is committed to pursuing the
tradition begun by Kernerman
10 Nahum Street, Tel Aviv 63503 Israel
tel: 972-3-5468102 fax: 972-3-5468103