Electronic dictionaries – what is it?

For better understanding of this question, we turn to article Galina Vitkova, which publish completely. In our opinion, this is one of the most successful articles describing this class of devices called “electronic dictionary”.


“…Development of the modern IT has caused breakthrough in development and implementation of electronic dictionaries. Many well-known traditional companies have evolved an electronic version of their traditional dictionaries.

According to the Wikipedia an electronic dictionary is either a small handheld computer or a PDA (personal digital assistant). PDA is also known as a palmtop computer. Newer PDAs commonly have colour screens and audio capabilities, enabling them to be used as mobile phones, web browsers, or portable media players. Many PDAs can access the Internet, intranets or extranets via Wi-Fi. Very often PDAs employ touch screen technology with a dictionary program. Electronic dictionaries are also programs that can be downloaded from the Internet or purchased on a CD-ROM or DVD (Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc) and installed on a desktop computer or on a laptop one, The computer–installed dictionaries can frequently be consulted directly within any application that uses editable text. The term may be used in a broader sense to refer to the features of a machine-readable dictionary or spell checker.

Content. Some electronic dictionaries contain only corpora for a single language (monolingual), but others are bilingual dictionaries and translation dictionaries and may also include professional terms, thesauri, travel dictionaries, dictionaries of idioms and colloquialisms, a guide to pronunciation, a grammar reference, common phrases and collocations, and a dictionary of foreign loan words. Electronic dictionary databases, especially those included with software dictionaries, are usually extensive and can include up to 500,000 headwords and definitions. Manufacturers and developers of electronic dictionaries may offer native content from their own lexicographers, licensed data from print publications, or both.

Standard features. Handheld electronic dictionaries resemble miniature clamshell laptop computers, complete with full keyboards and LCD screens. Since they are intended to be fully portable, these dictionaries are battery-powered and made with durable casing material. Some of the features of both handheld dictionaries and software dictionaries involve stroke order animations, voice output, handwriting recognition, language-learning programs, a calculator, PDA–like organizer functions, encyclopedias, time zone and currency converters, and crossword puzzle solvers. Dictionaries that contain data for several languages customarily have a “jump” or “skip-search” feature that allows users to move between the dictionaries and reverse translation actions.

Evaluation. There are differences in quality of the dictionary hardware, software, and content. Some handhelds are more robustly constructed than others, and the keyboards or touch screen input systems should be physically compared before purchase. The major consideration is the quality of the lexical database. Dictionaries intended for collegiate and professional use generally include most or all of the lexical information to be expected in a quality printed dictionary. The content of electronic dictionaries developed in association with leading publishers of printed dictionaries is more reliable that those aimed at the traveler or casual user. Bilingual dictionaries, which have not been authored by teams of native speaker lexicographers, will not be suitable for academic work. Some developers opt to have their products evaluated by an independent academic body such as the CALICO.

Integrated technologies. Several developers of the systems that drive electronic dictionary software offer API – Application Programming Interface and SDK – Software Development Kit tools for adding various language-based functions (dictionary, translation, definitions, synonyms, spell checking and grammar correction) to programs, and web services. These applications manipulate language in various ways, providing dictionary/translation features, and sophisticated solutions for semantic search.

Ectaco, one of the most prosperous associations in this area, is a New York – based company that designs, manufactures and sells translation dictionaries and language software. Founded by Russian émigrés in 1990 to produce handheld electronic dictionaries, it opened its development center in St. Petersburg in 1998. Find more information at http://www.ectaco.info/.

Ectaco produces dictionaries for 47 different languages, including a translator used by police forces in the United States.

Note. This is, first of all, a technical text for studying English and training technical English. At the same time the text encompasses up-to-date information on the topic…”

ECTACO Ads. e-mail: ceska@ectaco.com , Alex.P




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