Kernerman Dictionary News • Number 11 • July 2003

The Symposium on Bilingual Lexicography, Paris

Thierry Fontenelle

Thierry Fontenelle is a computational linguist and lexicographer with Microsoft’s Natural Language Group in Redmond (USA), where he is responsible for the French lexical database used in a variety of NL applications. He received his PhD from the University of Liège in 1995 (his dissertation, published by Max Niemeyer Verlag in 1997, dealt with the transformation of the Collins-Robert English-French dictionary into a lexical-semantic database). In the 1990s, he collaborated on two bilingual dictionaries published by Cambridge University Press and coordinated an international project dealing with the extraction of collocations from dictionaries and corpora. His research interests include computational lexicography for natural language processing, and more specifically collocations, lexical functions and frame semantics. He is also currently President of the European Association for Lexicography (EURALEX) and an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Lexicography.

The 4èmes Journées d’études sur la lexicographie bilingue were held in Paris from 22 through 24 May 2003. Beautifully organized by Thomas Szende, who teaches at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), the symposium focused on French in bilingual dictionaries and offered over 40 papers covering a wide range of topics and languages. Given the theme of the conference, presentations were in French, but the variety of bilingual dictionaries discussed was impressive, with languages ranging from English to Chinese, Arabic, Dutch, Hungarian, Italian, German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Luxemburgish, Portuguese, Yiddish, Slovak, Romanian, Ladino, Turkish, Gbaya, Swahili, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian and Malagasy.

For space reasons, it is not possible to list the titles of all the papers, which means that highlighting some of them is somewhat subjective. The organizer managed to attract a number of established figures in the field of bilingual lexicography, such as Paul Bogaards, who discussed L2 production with a bilingual dictionary, Alain Duval, who convincingly and elegantly analyzed the expression “appeler un chat un chat” (to call a spade a spade), or Marie-Hélène Corréard, who discussed French as a target language. Other topics were also dealt with, such as lexical-semantic relations in specialized dictionaries (Jeanne Dancette), cultural aspects in specialized bilingual dictionaries (John Humbley), or the difficulty of defining scientific terms in rapidly-changing disciplines (Yves Gentilhomme). Surprisingly few papers alluded to the use of corpora or computational techniques to compile dictionaries. This theme was not entirely absent, however, as was shown by Serge Verlinde, Thierry Selva and Jean Binon’s presentation of their work on a computerized, corpus-based French business dictionary featuring an impressive amount of lexical-semantic, syntactic and collocational information accessible via a large number of paths.

The relationship between computers, lexicography and cyberspace was also the topic of a panel discussion. This round table, moderated by Jean Pruvost (University of Cergy-Pontoise), made it possible for the panelists to explore this relationship from the point of view of the dictionary publishing world (Laurent Catach, Le Robert; Ralf Brockmeier, Larousse), of the software world (Thierry Fontenelle, Microsoft Natural Language Group), or of the academic world (Christine Jacquet-Pfau, Collège de France; André Le Meur, University of Rennes 2; Thierry Selva, University of Leuven). The topics discussed ranged from the contents of electronic dictionaries for natural language processing to the dichotomy between electronic dictionaries for people and those for machines, as well as the increasing interest in standardization issues faced by publishers who wish to exchange data with partners. Such issues cannot be ignored, since lexical data providers who are competitors today might be partners tomorrow and some kind of standardization is certainly desirable, as was energetically pointed out by Marie-Jeanne Derouin (Langenscheidt). Only time will tell to what extent such emerging standards for the representation of lexicographical data will gain acceptance, of course.

In a nutshell, the 4èmes Journées d’études sur la lexicographie bilingue gave an interesting overview of bilingual French lexicography today. This was an excellent opportunity to meet representatives from the publishing world and from the academic world, and to explore some of today’s hot topics. Dr Szende deserves a special note of praise for his successful organization of this event hosted by the Institut Hongrois. I personally look forward to seeing the proceedings of these “Journées”, which will be published by Honoré Champion, like the preceding editions. I also definitely look forward to going back to France next year and hope the participants of this symposium will be eager to share their experience and expertise with a larger audience at the next congress of Euralex in Lorient (Brittany, France) in July 2004.


IVes Journées d’étude sur la lexicographie bilingue

Le français dans les dictionnaires bilingues
(French in Bilingual Dictionaries)
The Fourth International Conference on Bilingual Lexicography
Held by INALCO (National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations)
Paris, France, 22-24 May 2003
Organized by Thomas Szende
Hosted at the Hungarian Institute in Paris

The purpose of the Inalco conferences on bilingual lexicography is to enhance the cooperation between French and foreign universities and research institutes working in the fields of lexicology, terminology, translation and linguistics – involving lexicographers and linguists, teachers and students, researchers and translators.

Three conferences concerning various theoretical issues and practices of bilingual lexicography were held in 1998, 1999 and 2000. The international audience of these symposiums has demonstrated the interest of the scientific community in contrastive research related to the lexicon and aimed to provide more solid linguistic ground for vocabulary description and acquisition, and for translation purposes.

The focal theme of the 2003 event—French in Bilingual Dictionaries—was selected with the intention to highlight the technical, linguistic and pedagogical aspects of bilingual dictionaries of French—as either source or target language—and to review their editorial status with respect to the following topics:

- The interaction between monolingual and bilingual French dictionaries
- Innovative lexicographical contents in the description and representation of the French language
- Contribution to minority languages or languages in risk of extinction
- What kind of units, properties and potentials to record in a bilingual dictionary?
- The roles of contrastive lexicology, translation sciences, and the didactics
- The relations between the conveyed linguistic information and the adopted formal components
- To understand? Produce? Inform? The actual use of bilingual dictionaries

The conference proceedings are published in Paris by Éditions Honoré Champion, in their Collection Études de lexicologie, lexicographie et dictionnairique, edited by Thomas Szende. The following titles have appeared so far:
Dictionnaires bilingues: Méthodes et contenus Actes de la Première Journée d’étude sur la lexicograpjhie bilingue (1998). 2000.
Approches contrastives en lexicographie bilingue Actes des IIes Journées d’étude sur la lexicograpjhie bilingue (1999). 2000.
Les écarts culturels dans les dictionnaires bilingues Actes des IIIes Journées d’étude sur la lexicograpjhie bilingue (2000). 2003.

Thomas Szende is co-director of INALCO’s Central and Eastern Europe Department and of the Research Centre. He has initiated and organises the Bilingual Dictionary international conferences, and he coordinates various lexicographic, translation, pedagogic and scientific projects, as well as cultural exchanges worldwide. Dr Szende has written, edited and published extensively, particularly in the areas of dictionaries, lexicology, translation, and language teaching and learning.



K Dictionaries Ltd
10 Nahum Street, Tel Aviv 63503 Israel
tel: 972-3-5468102 • fax: 972-3-5468103