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Book review

by Jonathan Clarke

Англо-український тлумачний словник економічної лексики
Анна Шимків, уклад.

Published by Києво-Могилянська академія, видавничий дім, 2004
ISBN 9789665182931

The publication in Ukraine of a dictionary compiled by a scholar living in Australia is a rare event indeed. The more so, when the work in question receives a prestigious award at the Kyiv International Book Fair. This is the case with the dictionary under review which was compiled by Anna Shymkiw, a resident of Sydney, and was placed second in the category ‘Best Reference Publication’ at the 2004 Fair. Given these credentials, such a work demands to be taken seriously. (The author completed her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in 1988 in comparative linguistics, lexical semantics and sociolinguistics. After moving to Australia she taught Ukrainian at Macquarie University before taking up her present position at Sydney University of Technology in 1995.)

It should be stated at the outset that this is not an ordinary bilingual dictionary of the type translators are familiar with. As the title suggests, it is directed towards a Ukrainian readership and offers much more than just Ukrainian equivalents of English economic terms. It includes, for example, a detailed and comprehensive bilingual list of currencies that gives not only the name of the country and its currency, but also the currency code, the currency symbol and the fractional division. 100 countries are represented (from Albania, Republic of [Республіка Албанія] to Zimbabwe, Republic of [Республіка Зімбабве]).

The dictionary has clearly defined aims. It is intended as a contribution to the stabilization of Ukrainian economic terminology at a time of rapid lexical change through its policy of giving preference to historically well-attested terms (as opposed to recent borrowings). It also has the aim of educating the reader in the new economic order that is to prevail in Ukraine now that the Soviet Union has disappeared, by serving as a guide to such fields as advertising, banking, investment, accounting, finance, insurance, marketing, management, and trade.

This pedagogic aim is reflected in the way the entries in the dictionary are organized. Their unusually complex structure is one of its outstanding features and deserves a detailed analysis. It takes the dictionary out of the ranks of the normal bilingual dictionary of specialist terminology and into the class of multifaceted reference work, as the 2004 award suggests. In this arrangement it differs significantly from another English–Ukrainian dictionary that deals with similar terminology, also published fairly recently and having an Antipodean connection. This is the English–Ukrainian Dictionary of Business/Consulting (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc.) that appeared in 1997 and was partly compiled by Alexander Krouglov, formerly of Otago University. (The other compilers were K. Kurylko and D. Kostenko, the editor was J. W. Selsky.)

While the general structure of the entries in Shymkiw’s dictionary is superficially straightforward, it has implications for the ordering of the terminology and the accessibility of the material presented. In theory each entry has eight distinct parts that are described as follows.

  1. English term, phonetic transcription, abbreviation. (Англійський термін, фонетична транскрипція, абревіатура.)
  2. Ukrainian equivalent terms. (Українські терміни-відповідники.)
  3. Definition, practical application. (Визначення, практичне застосування.)
  4. Phrases. (Словосполучення.)
  5. Usage. (Вживання.)
  6. Lexical semantic relations. (Лексико-семантичні відношення.)
  7. Etymology, historical data. (Етимологія, історичні дані.)
  8. Cross-references. (Перехресні посилання.)

To assist the reader in identifying which part of the entry corresponds to which of the parts described above, symbols are sometimes used to denote various parts (for example, ■ denotes part 4), though not all entries necessarily contain all eight parts. These symbols help to break the material into its constituents and give visual representation of the entry’s structure.

Not all English terms included in the dictionary (said to be approximately 20,000) are provided with a separate entry as outlined above, for the dictionary draws a sharp distinction between key terms and other terms that occur in phrases and collocations containing the key term. Only key terms are assigned individual entries. In this way the dictionary tackles the problem of the multiplicity of terms and the need to organize the lexical material so that some terms are explained fully, while others are merely translated. This arrangement explains the apparent discrepancy between the claim that the dictionary covers about 20,000 English terms and the much smaller list of Ukrainian terms included in the index (less than 3,000). It also gives the dictionary one of the characteristics of a monolingual dictionary (in the form of detailed definitions of terms) not usually found in bilingual dictionaries.

Most key terms are nouns (or have a nominal element), while noun phrases of the type Adjective + Noun or Participle + Noun using the key term are grouped together in part 4 of the relevant entry. Other collocations containing the key term are presented in part 5. So, for example, under the key term ‘lease’ we find 19 noun phrases in part 4 (‘capital lease’, ‘commercial lease’, ‘direct financing lease’, and so on), and 30 collocations in part 5 (‘by lease’, ‘lease agreement’, ‘lease back’, and so on).

While this arrangement satisfies the need for a compact presentation of the material, it can cause difficulty for the Ukrainian reader if a particular English term is translated as part of a phrase and not as a key term. For example, if the reader wishes to find the Ukrainian equivalent of the term ‘superannuation’, he must look in the entry under the key term ‘fund(s)’ and go to part 4, where the equivalent of ‘superannuation fund’ is given. The term ‘superannuation’ is not included as a key term in its own right and is not listed in any index. Similarly, though the Ukrainian term попит (‘demand’) is given in the index, such noun phrases as жвавий попит (‘active demand’), фактичний попит (‘actual demand’), сукупний попит (‘aggregate demand’), попит на кінцевий продукт (‘end-product demand’), попит на закордонні кредити (‘foreign credit demand’), попит, який залежить від цін (‘price-dependent demand’), and so on, appear only in the entry for ‘demand’. The Ukrainian reader might therefore find it difficult to translate the English term ‘price-dependent’ if it occurred in another context.

This observation should not be taken as a major criticism. It is inevitable that in a dictionary of this type, where the structure of the entries is complex and the information provided is comprehensive and diverse, there will be some inconsistencies. This is a small price to pay for such a rich lexical resource.