Dictionary Review


Author: Adrian RoomISBN: 0-7100-9953-3Publisher: Routledge & Kepn Paul plc - London - U.K. U.S. office: 29 West 35th Street - New York, NY 10001 - Tel.: +212 244-3336Date of publication: 1986Price: $ 45.00

· Number of entries: 4,000+

· Languages: E-F-D-I-S-R

· Quality of paper & print: 9-1/4"x 5-3/4" acid free paper. Two-column layout.

· Typeface: Times font, dear and crisp.

· Quality of binding: Hardbound.

· Readability: Excellent.

· Convenience of look-up: Standard. The entries am alphabetized, numbered and referenced by number in the cross-indexes.

· Grammatical information: The terms are preceded by the article.

· Contextual and encyclopedic information: The entries are referenced by field (astronomy, Bible, history, mythology, religion, U.SA); proper names are followed by the dates of birth and death; authors and years of publication/realization follow the titles of books, movies, dramas, etc.; and there is an indication of the country in which the geographical places are located.

· Appendices: Common first names and thew equivalents.

· Percent "filler words": None.

· Evaluation: This dictionary is good.


How many times do we find ourselves at a loss in re-translating the title of a comedy or the name of a historical personage? Advertising texts are ridden with this type of requirements and literary translators often face this dilemma.


Mr Adrian Room follows a distinguished tradition of comparative lexicography which, in the field of proverbs goes all the back to Beda Venerabilis. However, his interest is not focused on proverbs, but on a broader landscape of appellatives, geographical names and title. The task is gigantic and the more than 4,000 entries represent a significant contribution. All of the areas are well covered, especially the biblical, literary, historical and geographical fields, offering a vast array of toponyms, titles, patronyms and nicknames. The selection of musical titles is quite complete, and the characters of the Comédie Italienne am present en masse, with the surprising exception of lovely Colombine.


The Appendix lists about seventy first names and appears to be almost an afterthought. Some correspondences are doubtful. For instance, the Italian Giacobbe - instead of Giacomo- is offered as the equivalent of James, although Giacobbe is correctly found under Jacob in the main text. Similarly, Diego is listed, but Jaime is ignored. As far as I can tell, the French equivalent of the English Reginald is Renaud and not Regnault. Furthermore, the selection can be referred as "common" only from the point of view of an English speaker (how many Araldos or Olivieri do we know? And conversely how can we ignore Geneviève?).


The Appendix also presents a relatiely vast number of typos (at least in Italian): Alice in Italy becomes Alice, not Alicia. Daniel is not the equivalent of Danielle, but of Daniele. Thomas is Tommaso or Tomaso, never Tomasso and Vincent is Vincenzo, not Vincentio.


The Italian renditions seem to be exceptionally plagued by typos, contrary to the other languages, although I cannot speak for the German nor the Russian versions. A few examples should suffice: The name Girl Scouts is translated as le giovini esploratrici instead of le giovani esploratrici (here, the parenthetic explanation of neutral to differentiate the lay group from the catholic organization appears particularly ill-chosen). Città di Messico is offered as the rendition of Ciudad de México instead of Città del Messico. The territory Judaea is called Giudea and the proposed Guidea is terra incognita. Italian astronomers and astrologers call the constellation of Scorpio lo Scorpione, and the offered il Scorpione simply ignores the grammatical rule of the article in front of an "impure S". In Italy, Das Nibelunged is known as il Canto dei Nibelunghi and the term – Cantico - (Dictionary of Translated Names and Titles: Cantico del Nibelunghi) is normally referred to Saint Francis' Cantico delle creature or Creatures' Song (not included). I admit that to make a masculine out of North Dakota has no logical justification (the harshness of its winter??), but masculine it is, and la Dakota del Nord is not reflective of current Italian usage. Finally, Xantippe may well deserve to be called Santippa, but the Italian name of this antonomastically cantankerous wife is Santippe.

This notwithstanding, Mr. Room's work is indeed unique. The announced De Silva's International Dictionary of Literature and Grammar in preparation by Elsevier might cover at least some of the areas explored by this relevant source, but at this time, if you want to discover the German title of Disney's Lady and the Tramp (Susi und Strolch) there is only one valid reference: the Dictionary of Names and Titles.