jump to navigation

#ata53: Managing, Importing, and Exporting Bilingual Glossaries with UniLex November 8, 2012

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Tech tips, Tools.

I checked into the Hilton Bayside in San Diego on the Tuesday before the annual ATA conference to attend the above-named preconference seminar by Fabio Said (@fidusinterpres) on Wednesday morning. I like attending preconference seminars, because they allow you to really delve into the material in three hour increments. The conference sessions are usually around one hour and don’t allow that much detail. The preconference seminars went up in price this year, so I only attended one. That said, I was glad I chose Fabio’s presentation, because I can see how it will really benefit me in everyday practice.

To quote the abstract, “This hands-on seminar [showed us] how to use UniLex, a professional (and free) terminology management tool, to keep all your existing and future bilingual glossaries in a single application.” I was probably one of the only people in the room who had actually worked with the tool; however, I had never known that it could be use to manage my own glossaries. Having trained under terminologist extraordinaire Sue Ellen Wright at Kent State, after graduation I worked as a terminologist for six months at a translation agency in Germany and then off and on for them as needed for another six months. I am quite familiar with the process of creating glossaries for clients and for your own use.

Acolada’s UniLex is a German tool that allows you to look up terms and translations in a number of dictionaries within seconds. I have been using the professional version for years when I purchased German-English dictionaries such as the Collins/PONS German-English dictionary, Wahrig Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, Brinkmann/Blaha: Data Systems and Communications Dictionary, Ernst: Dictionary of Engineering and Technology, Dietl/Lorenz: Dictionary of Legal, Commercial and Political Terms, Kucera: Dictionary of Chemistry, der Große Eichborn, and several specialized Langenscheidt dictionaries, which are all available on UniLex Pro. It is a stand-alone tool, which does not allow you to copy a term in Word and look it up in the interface, but this makes it an ideal tool to manage your own glossaries as well. Both tools are free, but Fabio stressed several times that we should download and use the regular version, because the regular version allows you to edit the data.

Fabio discussed what the tool can and cannot do. Like I said, it does not integrate with Word or CAT tools. However, if you are a word geek you can really customize it to meet your needs, with spaces for part of speech, context and other details. You can import existing glossaries, add new entries to existing glossaries, and export the data into nice-looking RTF Word files. Not bad for a free tool…

I wrote about using electronic dictionaries back in 2008 and am using the screenshot of the UniLex interface from that post. Since I haven’t had a chance to install it on my new Windows 7 system it may or may not look a little different than in the screenshot below, which was taken from an XP system.

He then walked us through how to create a dictionary in UniLex and import a bilingual glossary (as an Excel file). One thing to remember is that “Key” is the source term and “Equivalents” is/are the target term(s). He also shared a sample Excel table to use for the process, which was organized in 8 columns. The Excel table should then be copied into Notepad or another text editor to ensure no hidden formatting is copied with the data into UniLex. The text file should then be saved using ANSI encoding to ensure any special characters are maintained; however, some systems may do better with UTF-8 encoding. You should test your system before importing large glossaries and editing existing dictionaries. The last step is to close UniLex and reopen it to view the contents of your dictionary.

I have downloaded the tool, but haven’t gotten around to playing with it on my own yet. I’ve been pretty busy dealing with the insurance company, running errands, and following up with the people I met at the conference. Oh yes, and translating. Can’t forget the day (and night) job. I do, however, look forward to playing with it once my life calms down (maybe after the holidays?). In summary, I am very happy I attended Fabio’s preconference seminar and look forward to becoming an amateur terminologist again. I’m curious to see if my old dictionaries and the glossaries I create from my Excel glossaries will be able to happily and smoothly co-exist.



1. Catharine Cellier-Smart (Smart Translate) - November 9, 2012

From what I’ve seen on the website it’s only compatible with PCs though, not with Macs unfortunately.

2. Kenny - November 12, 2012

How well does the tool support foreign alphabets, e.g. Cyrillic? I notice that UniLex sells one dictionary that includes Russian, but I can see that the emphasis is on German and other mainstream Western European languages.

Jill (@bonnjill) - November 12, 2012

I’m sorry. I have no idea. You’d have to ask UniLex or Fabio (@fidusinterpres).

3. Sally Loren - November 14, 2012

Thanks so much for that REALLY interesting post. I don’t think I’ll use it very much for existing dictionaries, but the idea of applying it to manage my own glossaries is simply revolutionary. I’ve been trying to figure that one out for YEARS…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: