[EN] The Source Codes

or where to translate from when you are translating


The fact that you know what a text is about, doesn’t necessarily mean you immediately know how to translate it from one language into another This is particularly important for words which have multiple meanings. If you have ever tried to translate something professionally, you were faced with the problem of finding a word which is in line with both the meaning and the spirit of the text.

A good translation depends as much on your understanding of the matter at hand, as it does from the resources you use while translating. Before you even start translating, you have to find good resources. So, let’s start with the “most complicated” ones.


  1. Montenegrin:
    zbunjeni robot
    Since there are no viable references, I am lost as a robot among daisies

    If you are translating into Montenegrin, the necessary resources are an orthography manual, the grammar of the Montenegrin language and a bucketful of luck. This last, because out of all the languages you will be translating into, Montenegrin is most akin to the Wild West. It can easily happen that the proof-reader will send you back the translation with a bunch of corrections, for no other reasons than inconsistencies of use in everyday life, where one proof-reader might accept one version, and a different proof-reader a completely different version of the same term. In such instances it is best to ask beforehand: God bless the electronic communication (The most reliable sources are the CANU, the Institute for the Montenegrin language, however both are close to useless). When it comes to dictionaries, it is still the best practice to use those Serbian.

  2. Serbian: While better, the state of the Serbian language is not ideal. While there are more resources, manuals and support, here too, it is the proof-reader who has the final say unless you can support your choice with indisputable evidence. Good news is that if you have done your schooling in Montenegro, you already have some of the most important resources, namely: the textbookitalijansko-srpski-recnik-ivan-klajn~272147.jpgs you used in elementary and high school are excellent resources. If you can get your hands on the newer editions -which I recommend – even better. When it comes to dictionaries, the situation is even better. Serbian has the largest number of dictionaries out of all the descendants of the Serbo-Croatian, that being said, not all the dictionaries were printed equal. For example, there are both general and specialised dictionaries for the English language. Morton Benson being the most popular one, but I have never been too fond of it. When it comes to Law and economics there is a prevalence of the Vukićević dictionary, but I found it to have a lot of problematic entries, so as my main source, I rather use the EUR-Lex; what is more their website has the TM library with TMs compatible with the OmegaT. Official translations from various governmental websites of Serbia are also a decent resource. When it comes both to Serbian and Italian: There can be only one: KLAJN!
  3. Croatian:
    Croatian: Definitely the widest network of resources and support for the linguists exists for the Croatian. The website of the Institute for the Croatian Language offers a plethora of resources completely free, and it has the option to ask a question to an expert, but as of now, I haven’t used that one, so I cannot say anything worthwhile about it. Furthermore, the Croatian linguists have an excellent practice of putting everything up on line, so if you are unable to find a solution in written literature, there is a very lively community on the linguistic fEURLexorums.  Since Croatia is an EU member state, there is additional benefit of the resources on the official EU websites. All of it free to download and study. It is also compatible with OmegaT, so it saves a lot of time with glossaries and TMs.  With all of “them resources” you hardly need to buy a physical copy of any dictionary.
  4. British English:
    With English being a descriptive language, the quality of the translation is sometimes determined by the latest trend.  A translation which would be perfectly correct ten years ago, today might not be. Luckily, the OED and the Hart’s Rules have new editions and are also available online. Unfortunately, not all the necessary memberships are free, and sometimes require you to shell out tens of Euros. Of course, when it comes to English, the most important thing is to stay up to date, so signing up for mailing lists, follow and take part in the linguistic discussions is paramount and read, read, read. There are no shortcuts or easy solutions.
  5. American English:
    Everything said about the British English, only on steroids. There are more dictionaries to choose from: Cambridge, Webster and even Oxford have amazing dictionaries for American English. All of them available freely online. While important, the Chicago Manual of Style, lately does not have the Alpha and Omega omnipotence it wielded only few decades ago, however, it is still worth having it in your library. Whichever dictionary you opt for it is of the utmost importance that you follow the Merriam-Webster on Twitter (You are welcome!)
  6. Italian:
    The simplest out of all recommendations: Accademia della Crusca and the Zingarelli. What was true a hundred years ago (yup, Zingarelli is a hundred years old… a hundred and one in September, if I am not mistaken) is still true today. Having said that, with Italian more than any of the above it is important that you have the newest edition. This is particularly true in the field of technology, sometimes the internet may prove more useful than the dictionary itself.

This is just a starter pack. Once you start translating, you will find other resources that work best for you, and with a bit of luck, you will find a network of colleagues you can consult on any issue.

And for the love of everything sacred, get a good spellchecker!

Però mi piaci!!!