Kernerman Dictionary News • Number 12 • July 2004
A Glance at Porto Editora
It was founded in 1944 by Vasco Teixeira, my father, who managed to interest a group of teachers in his idea of creating high-quality schoolbooks. Motivated by a commitment to promote high standards in education, the company was highly successful, and an independent organization developed from the visionary project. Over the years, Porto Editora established itself as a leading educational publisher, and in the process underwent periods of great change, which, in fact, mirror the major transitions within the Portuguese society.
Vasco Teixeira, 1916-1987
The need for high-quality printing at specific periods of the year soon resulted in buying a printing house, Bloco Gráfico, which, to this day, takes care of all production. From the beginning, a large amount of money was invested in advanced typesetters and printing machines, which allowed for high efficiency and regular production. In the late 1990s, a modern building was designed to fit the increasing printing turnover, with innovative technical capacity, and an automatic warehouse.
Our products are distributed by ourselves or by subsidiary companies, Arnado, in the central area of Portugal, and Fluminense, in the south. This policy allows us to be present all over the country.
Meanwhile, the implementation of new technologies has caused us to step into multimedia products, providing the Portuguese market with educational and reference CD-ROMs and DVDs. Our presence on the Internet is both institutional and commercial, with a bookstore online and four sites addressed to students, parents and teachers. Since 2003, we offer a paid service – Infopedia.pt – with encyclopaedic articles, dictionaries and multimedia resources.
Dictionaries at Porto Editora
The publication of the first edition of the Dicionário Editora da Língua Portuguesa (DELP) took place in 1952, as Vasco Teixeira soon realized dictionaries were an essential part of culture. That year really marked the beginning of a trend in dictionary making that has prevailed up to the present. New editions of Portuguese dictionaries, as well as bilingual dictionaries for English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Modern Greek, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Romanian, Dutch, Swedish and Latin were launched, providing the market with learning tools that have grown increasingly popular among students, teachers and the general public.
At first all the work on dictionaries was done on paper, and relied on the author’s capacities. Authors were chosen by their reputation and language competence, and many titles appeared. It soon became clear that the process and quality should be controlled in-house, and, as a result, some of the staff became lexicographers. This was suitable for that time, as entries were hand-written, notes were kept in a system of card-based inventory, and texts had to be manually typeset. New editions were revised using the same hard time-consuming methods.
When I joined the company, coming from a translation service where I had done a lot of work in terminology, I had a strong feeling that we need to control the content much more than the form – as was the practice until then – if we wanted to maintain our leading position in dictionaries and be able to face the arising competition. So, in the mid-1990s a new dictionary division was set up and a whole new team of lexicographers was recruited. Most of them went through training programs, while they developed their own skills as language researchers, as at that time there were no university courses on lexicography in Portugal. By then the dictionary program of the company had, as its prime concern, the formation of in-house, full-time skilled staff, and the development of editing software for dictionary making, using available computer technologies. It took a few years before the work done in the dictionary division became almost completely automated: dictionaries were converted into databases, information was gathered and tagged so as to permit data retrieval, and there was a huge investment in electronic devices for storing information and optimizing the productive process. We were very happy to produce our first dictionaries coming directly out of our database in 1998, and we took the opportunity to redesign the cover and change the format, though maintaining the colour orange which immediately identifies Porto Editora’s dictionaries in the Portuguese market.
Main building at Porto
The use of databases allowed us to produce three complete CD-ROMs: Portuguese, English and French, including dictionaries of verbs and introducing other features. At the same time, we put DELP online for free, then English/Portuguese, Portuguese/English, French/Portuguese and Portuguese/French dictionaries. A Portuguese illustrated dictionary, dictionaries specially created for primary school students and substantial revisions of different dictionary ranges were undertaken, helped by the advance of new technologies.
Today, our policy is to produce the most updated dictionaries suitable for the target users. Thus, DELP has the year of publication on the cover for the past two years, in order to stress its actuality.
A brand new masterpiece
For the 60th anniversary of our publishing house this year, we decided to publish a dictionary of one volume, including the main work done by Porto Editora on the Portuguese language database, and thus to create a new lexicographical reference book in Portugal.
Our Grande Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa appeared in May 2004. It presents the actual state-of-the-art of the Portuguese language not only in Portugal, but also in Portuguese-speaking countries including Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe. This important geographical coverage includes a large degree of common language, as well as special domains.
Grande Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa
It was a great challenge to coordinate the collaboration of many specialists who updated our databases and introduced new concepts in different areas, from mathematics to medicine, music or biology. This specialized revision was done on paper, and our lexicographers were in charge of dealing with the experts, adapting their explanations to a dictionary definition and finally introducing the new version in the database. Besides, our lexicographic team treated common language entries and some areas of their knowledge, such as linguistics or literature.
With its prestigeous physical features, the Grande Dicionário stands as a symbol of the company’s long experience in dictionary making and of its high standard of quality.
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Dictionaries in numbers
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