Sandro Nielsen

Associate Professor, Ph.D.

Centre for Lexicography

Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University, Denmark

© 2002


Lexicographical Basis for an Electronic Bilingual Accounting Dictionary: Theoretical Considerations

This is a translation and revised version of an original paper in Danish, which was published in LexicoNordica 9-2002, 173-194.



This paper describes some selected aspects of the pre-conceptual work in connection with an Internet-based Danish-English dictionary covering the field of accounting. The emphasis is on text-dependent and text-independent functions related to the intended user group, as this relationship is crucial in the design and preparation of this type of dictionary. In contrast to existing dictionaries within this field, this is a syntagmatic dictionary with many types of information that are designed to help the user produce and translate texts. The dictionary articles will contain such types of information as grammatical information, definitions, equivalents, pronunciation, collocations, phrases, cross-references and Internet links.


International keywords: Internet dictionary; electronic dictionary; dictionary of accounting; specialised dictionaries; dictionary functions; text-dependent functions; text-independent functions; user groups; lemma selection; data base; search options; search structure; translation; production; reception; LSP dictionary; syntagmatic dictionary; LSP lexicography; specialised lexicography; dictionnaire internet; dictionnaire électronique; dictionnaire de comptabilité; dictionnaires spécialisés; fonctions dictionnairiques; fonctions liées à la communication; fonctions liées à la; connaissance; groupes d'utilisateurs; sélection lemmatique; base de données; options de recherche; structure de recherche; traduction; production; réception; dictionnaire syntagmatique; lexicographie spécialisée; lexicographie; dictionnaires bilingues; Internetordbog; elektronisk ordbog; regnskabsordbog; fagordbøger; ordbogsfunktioner; tekstafhængige funktioner; tekstuafhængige funktioner; brugergrupper; lemmaselektion; database; søgemuligheder; søgestruktur; oversættelse; produktion; reception; syntagmatisk ordbog; fagleksikograf;. leksikografi; Internetwörterbuch; electronische Wörterbücher; Fachwörterbücher; syntagmatisches Wörterbuch.


1. Introduction

The need for cross-sector and cross-border comparison of financial statements has risen with the globalisation of capital and loan markets. This was the main reason why the Danish parliament, Folketinget, passed a new Danish Financial Statements Act (årsregnskabsloven) in May 2001. The new Act is more in line with the international development within financial reporting than the previous act and makes it possible for Danish enterprises to present their financial statements according to international accounting standards (IAS and IFRS). In order to make such comparisons, Danish enterprises must make their financial reporting in English.

Lexicographers at the Aarhus School of Business are preparing the lexicographical basis for the compilation of an accounting dictionary covering the languages Danish and English. The planned dictionary will be a practical tool designed to help Danish enterprises meet the ever-increasing need to make their financial reporting in linguistically and terminologically correct English, for the benefit of stakeholders. To make it available to as many users as possible, the projected dictionary will be prepared as an electronic dictionary with free access on the Internet. This does not rule out the publication of a printed dictionary containing, for instance, selected parts of the electronic dictionary, should the need for a printed edition of the dictionary arise. The following description focuses on the findings of the preliminary work on the preparation of the lexicographical basis for the electronic dictionary.


2. Dictionary Functions

When specifying the functions of a dictionary, the lexicographers should begin by placing the dictionary in a typological framework, as this provides them with a useful point of departure. The considerations concerning the planned accounting dictionary take their point of departure in a recent typology of LSP dictionaries, which focuses on the functions of dictionaries as opposed to the more traditional focus on linguistic categories:

“The difference between the various dictionaries is what they intend to inform about, not which information type they contain.” (Bergenholtz/Kauffmann 1997: 98)

 The point of departure has two elements, which together constitute a whole. First, the basic functional needs of the user are determined on the basis of a dichotomy between text-dependent and text-independent functions. Text-dependent functions include reception of texts in the user’s own language or a foreign language, production of texts in the user’s own language or a foreign language, and translation of a text into the user’s own language or a foreign language. Text-independent functions include the acquisition of encyclopaedic and/or linguistic knowledge. This dichotomy enables the lexicographers to compile multifunctional dictionaries that are intended to solve a plurality of functions (Bergenholtz/Kaufmann 1997: 98-99).

As the intention is that the dictionary is to help Danish enterprises make their financial information more readily available in English, the dictionary will primarily be text-dependent. In order to have a workable basis, and considering the above typology of LSP dictionaries, it is necessary to further specify the functions of the dictionary and give them different weight. The preliminary studies have shown that the projected dictionary should have the following three functions:

  1. The primary function: translation of Danish texts into English.
  2. The secondary function: production of English texts and reception of English texts.
  3. The tertiary function: a) production of Danish texts, and b) reception of Danish texts.

These functions must be linked to the intended user group, as well as the linguistic and factual competence of the users, and these competences constitute the second element.


3. Intended User Group

The factual and linguistic competences of the user play an important role, because a user will consult the dictionary in connection with different functions, depending on the different types and levels of competence. The lexicographers therefore need general guidelines for their project and some of the recent literature on lexicography distinguishes between three general user groups: experts, semi-experts and laypeople (Nielsen 1990: 131; and Bergenholtz/Kaufmann 1997: 98-99). This trichotomy provides an appropriate basis for an LSP dictionary but cannot stand alone.

In order to combine the functions of the dictionary and the needs and competences of the user, the lexicographers must make a user profile of the intended user group. The user profile specifies the lexicographical needs of the intended user group, and those will be the needs the dictionary has to fulfil on the basis of the factual and linguistic competences (both in L1 and L2) of the user group. The intended user group of the planned dictionary may be divided into the following sub-groups:

  1. The primary user group: translators and secretaries.
  2. The secondary user group: accounting experts.
  3. The tertiary user group: students and other persons interested in Danish financial statements.

It must be assumed that the accounting expert and the translator (language expert) will be directly involved in the preparation of annual reports and other financial information in English by Danish enterprises. A preliminary survey has revealed that selected international accounting firms in Denmark primarily translate the Danish financial texts, and the accounting firms often have their own translation departments where professional translators translate the texts in collaboration with accounting experts.

Based on the lexicographical theory and existing user research, it is reasonable to assume that the primary user group consists of persons with a considerable linguistic competence and a small to medium factual competence, keeping in mind that the group consisting of secretaries includes experienced as well as inexperienced secretaries (depending on the type of enterprise and period of employment). The users are generally semi-experts in relation to linguistic and factual knowledge. The secondary user group is made up of persons with a considerable factual competence and a small to medium linguistic competence (in relation to native and foreign language). Consequently, the dictionary must contain information about grammatical aspects relating to the foreign language in order to fulfil its functions as a production and translation dictionary (see e.g. Duvå/Laursen/Maidahl 1992: 112-114; and Lindemann 2000: 195). These types of information are relevant to both the primary and the secondary user group. The primary user group will, however, need more factual information such as definitions of the Danish terms than will the secondary user group. Both user groups will have the same need for factual information specifying the difference between English equivalents in cases where it is necessary to distinguish between various English terms, depending on meaning and context. Failure to include such information will have a negative effect on the dictionary’s potential for fulfilling user needs.


4. Implications for the Compilation of the Dictionary

The best way in which the dictionary can fulfil the needs of the users and its functions is for the lexicographers to compile a syntagmatic LSP dictionary, i.e. a dictionary listing fixed expressions, phrases and sentences. This distinguishes the projected dictionary from existing dictionaries covering the same field, as these only to a very limited extent list collocations, phrases, sentences, linguistic structures and usage (cf. Lindemann 2000: 195). Moreover, the dictionary will be an electronic dictionary, with the additional options this gives the lexicographers and the users.

Taking the user group and the functions of the dictionary into consideration, the word list will have to include specialist (LSP) terms and ordinary (LGP) words that occur in financial reporting texts, so that the lexicographical needs of the users will be fulfilled in the best possible way. This is in line with observations found in the recent lexicographical literature:

“Vi mener ikke, at kun fagord/termer skal medtages, men at det af hensyn til brugerens behov er væsentligt, at også andre ord, specielt relevante for det pågældende fagområde, medtages som lemmata.” (Duvå/Laursen 1995: 98)

[In our opinion, not only terms of art/LSP terms are to be included, but in order to cater for the users’ needs, it is important also to lemmatise other words, such as words that are particularly relevant in the LSP field concerned]

Typical examples of words other than LSP terms are those found in financial reporting texts with their ordinary meanings as well as specific meanings, and words that are particularly difficult to translate into English, e.g. because there are several English words to choose from but only one is correct in a specific context. One example is the Danish verb afslutte, which may mean 1) finish, 2) conclude, and 3) close.

Accordingly, the lexicographers of the planned dictionary will have to operate with the following types of lemmata:

1. Word classes, mainly a traditional, grammatical categorisation:

2. Inflexion of word classes, i.e.: comparison, derivation and conjugation.

3. Collocations, which may contain a combination of terms of art and ordinary words, e.g.:

4. Phrases that are clauses and sentences, in whole or in part. This type of syntagmatic information may be illustrated by the following examples, which all illustrate the different translations of the Danish verb indregne in different contexts:

grunde og bygninger er indregnet til dagsværdi = land and buildings are shown at fair value

valutareguleringer indregnes direkte på egenkapitalen = exchange differences are taken to shareholdersequity

tab på udenlandsk valuta er indregnet på egenkapitalen = foreign exchange losses at the balance sheet date were recognised in shareholdersequity

In those cases where the lemmata are primarily made up of terms of art, the phrases will contain a significant number of LGP words that typically occur in financial reporting texts.

Experience shows that non-linguists and language experts with a low degree of factual knowledge have a tendency to think in terms of Danish language structures when they communicate in English, orally as well as in writing. The result is the production of ungrammatical – and at the same time unidiomatic - texts in the foreign language. The lexicographers therefore need to allow for various grammatical aspects that may help the users translate texts into and produce texts in English.

Grammatical information concerning the English equivalents is important to facilitate the translation into and production in the foreign language; especially when the grammatical properties of the English equivalents differ from those of the Danish lemmata. The following discussion includes examples indicating which aspects are relevant in connection with the languages Danish and English (see Hansen 1985: 253-282). Grammatical aspects may concern two text levels, i.e. those on word level (the first two examples) and those on sentence level.

            renter = interestbetale en rente på 5% = pay interest at a rate of 5%;

            erfaringer = experience → de erfaringer vi har gjort = the experience we have had.

  • Dependent question, e.g.: uden at anføre, hvor høj provisionen er = without stating the rate of commission.
  • Relative clause, e.g.: det provenu, der fremkommer ved salget = the proceeds of the sale.
  • Explanatory clause, e.g.: når vi har kunnet indtjene et overskud, forklares det ved …= our ability to earn an operating profit is accounted for by...

It must be assumed that the language competence of translators enables them to produce idiomatically correct English texts, but as translators are not automatically experts within the field of accounting, the relevant terminology and language usage, the dictionary must make it possible for translators to produce and translate texts in idiomatically correct English within the subject field in question.

In addition to factual, morphological and syntactical information, the lexicographers should also include information about the pronunciation of the English equivalents (phonetic information). This information is not included in the existing Danish-English LSP dictionaries, and the traditional LGP dictionaries only include this information by way of a phonetic transcription. An electronic dictionary may benefit from using auditive information and thus include a sound file. By clicking on an icon, the user of the planned dictionary will be able to hear the pronunciation of the English equivalent concerned. This is also in line with the expected competence of the secondary user group regarding pronunciation, and it also helps the members of the secondary user group fulfilling the need to participate in discussions and make oral presentations in English.

In respect of the factual information, the lexicographers must define the language of explanation with due regard to the user group and the text-dependent functions. The dictionary is designed for Danish users, and the factual information is intended to make the user familiar with the meaning of the lemmata in appropriate accounting contexts and to explicitly specify any difference between the lemma and its equivalent in terms of meaning and usage. In order to minimise the loss of information, Danish has been chosen as the most appropriate language of explanation. The wording of the definitions must be adjusted to the factual and linguistic competences of the users. Danish accounting experts must be assumed to be linguistic semi-experts, and language experts must be assumed to be accounting semi-experts at best. Accordingly, the definitions must be written so that the primary user group, consisting of accounting semi-experts, can understand them. The definitions must, however, contain so much relevant factual information that they can be understood and used by accounting experts. The combination of information specifically targeted at non-experts and the use of the Danish language ensures that the information is relevant to and can be used by as many of the intended users as possible. It is likely that, at a later time, the definitions will also be written in English and will then be English translations of the Danish definitions (see e.g. Schneider 1998: 320-321), in order to support the functions translation into English and production in English.


5. Delimitation of the Subject Field

To ensure that the dictionary contains all the relevant lemmata, the lexicographers must delimit the subject field of the dictionary vis-à-vis other subject fields (see Pedersen 1995: 83-85). The lexicographers will base the delimitation on the description of the contents of the annual report found in the Danish Financial Statements Act 2001. All the financial reporting aspects covered by this Act are to be covered, including financial information for individual companies and groups of companies. This delimitation of the subject field is necessary to ensure that the dictionary will only contain terms that are relevant to the field of accounting and to ensure that as many terms as possible are selected (see section 6 below). This means that the dictionary will have to cover the following aspects:

1. Statement by the executive and supervisory board

2. Auditors’ report

3. Operating and financial review

3.1 Business ideas and objectives

3.2 Profit development

3.3 Risk profile and risk management

3.4 Key figures and financial ratios

3.5 Supplementary information necessary to give a true and fair view

4. Accounting policies

5. Financial statements

5.1 Income statement

5.2 Balance sheet

5.3 Cash flow statement

5.4 Statement of changes in equity

5.5 Notes

6. Supplementary statements

6.1 Environmental statement

6.2 Intellectual capital statement

6.3 Statement of social and ethical issues

7. Other information

The enterprises covered by the Act are divided into four classes – the model is referred to as the “building-block model” – and the Act divides them into classes A to D, depending on their size and legal form. Listed companies and state-owned enterprises (class D) are particularly relevant for the delimitation of the subject field as class D enterprises must comply with the rules applying to all the other classes (see KPMG 2002: 11-12).


6. Selection

6.1 Preliminary Considerations

The above division of enterprises into different classes makes it necessary to include the most widely traded companies on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange (referred to as KFX companies) in the basis for selecting lemmata, equivalents, collocations and phrases. These companies often publish their annual reports in both Danish and English and have many stakeholders outside Denmark.

The Danish Financial Statements Act is a framework act that is to be supplemented by detailed rules in accounting standards, which are at present prepared by the Institute of State Authorised Public Accountants in Denmark (FSR); it is expected that this work will in future be undertaken by an independent standard-setting body where, among others, users and preparers of financial statements as well as auditors are represented (see KPMG 2002: 21). Most of these standards have been revised to reflect the Financial Statements Act, and these standards will be given the same priority as the Act for the purposes of the selection of lemmata and various types of information.

The Danish accounting standards and the Financial Statements Act generally comply with the International Accounting Standards (IAS and IFRS) and SIC Interpretations from the International Accounting Standards Board and its Standing Interpretations Committee. Consequently these texts are relevant in connection with the selection of lemmata (the Danish translations of standards and interpretations), equivalents etc.

Financial enterprises do not fall within the scope of the Danish Financial Statements Act, but are regulated by the Danish Financial Business Act and the relevant executive orders. The accounting provisions of this Act are almost identical with the provisions of the new Financial Statements Act, and therefore the Financial Business Act is used as a source for selecting lemmata etc. (see KPMG 2002: 7).

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have adopted a regulation (Regulation on the application of international accounting standards) that applies to the annual accounts of publicly-traded companies and consolidated accounts for all financial years starting on or after 1 January 2005. This Regulation is based on IAS and IFRS mentioned above. The relevant EU documents in Danish and English concerning financial statements are to be included in the basis for selection.


6.2 Selection of Texts

The texts that form the basis for the selection of the Danish lemmata, collocations and phrases are to be found after an analysis of texts and reference books of the following types:

In addition, accounting experts should be consulted to ensure the selection of all the relevant lemmata, collocations and phrases.

The texts that form the basis for the selection of English equivalents and the translation of collocations and phrases are to be found after an analysis of texts and reference books of the following types:

In addition, accounting experts should be consulted to ensure the selection of all the relevant equivalents.

By tradition the existing Danish-English and English-Danish dictionaries covering accounting terminology have explicitly indicated whether the English terms are specifically British English (UK) or American English (US) and their usage correspondingly limited, see e.g. DEØ and FRY. In connection with the introduction of international accounting standards in Danish financial reporting, it is necessary to indicate specific IAS terminology as well.


6.3 Selection of Lemmata

It is necessary to lay down detailed criteria for the selection of lemmata, collocations and phrases and for the texts that are to form the basis of the selection. The dictionary is to be a maximising LSP dictionary, i.e. a dictionary designed to contain as many terms as possible from the subject field specified (see Nielsen 1990: 130-132; and Nielsen 1994, 37-38). Based on a comparison with existing dictionaries, it is reasonable to expect that the planned electronic accounting dictionary will include approx. 4000 lemmata. To this figure must be added a considerable (but as yet unspecified) number of collocations and phrases.

The lexicographers have to select all specialist terms that are found within the sub-fields that collectively make up the above delimitation of the subject field, as well as other words that are particularly relevant to the subject. The specialist terms may be either single-word terms or multi-word terms. For the purpose of selecting lemmata, it is necessary to further specify the contents of the above sub-fields with a view to selecting as many terms as possible, i.e. an internal subject classification (see Pedersen 1995: 85-87). One result of this is that, for instance, under item 5.2, balance sheet, of the annual report, the lexicographers must divide this item into even smaller parts, so that all specialist terms that may be found in a balance sheet will be selected.

It is necessary to divide the balance sheet into assets and liabilities and further subdivide assets into current and non-current assets. When this has been done, each has to be split up into its smallest components so that, inter alia, current assets are divided into inventories, trade and other receivables, investments, and cash and cash equivalents. In order to illustrate this, the following list is an example of the main components that are found in Danish balance sheets (horizontal format):

1. Assets

1.1  Non-current assets

1.1.1 Intangible assets

1.1.2 Property, plant and equipment

1.1.3 Investments and other assets

1.2  Current assets

1.2.1 Inventories

1.2.2 Trade and other receivables

1.2.3 Investments

1.2.4 Cash and cash equivalents

The optimal selection of lemmata is achieved if the lexicographers make an even finer division of the balance sheet components, in casu current assets. This will ensure an in-depth coverage of the structure and terminology of the balance sheet, i.e. a terminological classification (see Pedersen 1995: 87-90). This may result in the following exemplary list of inventories under current assets:

1.2.1 Inventories  Raw materials and consumables  Work in progress  Finished goods and goods for resale Prepayments for goods

The above lists are merely examples of the division of a subject field for the purpose of selecting as many terms as possible, but it is important to appreciate that the terminological classification of assets also includes non-current assets and all the various sub-divisions of current and non-current assets. A similar procedure must be completed in respect of liabilities in the balance sheet.

It is expected that the Internet dictionary will contain a component making it possible for users to contact the lexicographers and suggest the inclusion of new terms or make suggestions to definitions, collocations and phrases. To avoid total anarchy, it is for the lexicographers to decide whether the suggestions and comments should be given active consideration, but the point is that the lexicographers will periodically update the dictionary and be in direct contact with its users.


7. Dictionary Components

The planned electronic dictionary may be divided into a number of separate components in the same way as a printed dictionary. The principal component is the word list, but the dictionary will also include components that lexicographical scholars traditionally refer to as outside matter.

The word list is made up of the articles that are incorporated in the dictionary, and the articles will be structured according to a standard article schematic so that all articles will be structured along the same lines. The article schematic includes text fields for each type of information that articles may contain (see Nielsen 1995b: 210). The lexicographers must prepare one joint article schematic for all word classes, and each field is to be filled in as appropriate; this will ensure a systematic and consistent presentation of the information contained in the articles. Based on the above considerations relating to the intended user group and functions, the article schematic will contain the following types of information:

The limited space on a screen and the fact that some articles will contain much syntactical information make it necessary to limit the number of collocations and phrases that are shown the first time a user consults an article. Consequently, the user will be presented with the five most important Danish collocations and their English translations, but if the article contains more collocations, the user may click on an icon and be presented with the rest of the collocations. A similar way of presenting the Danish phrases and their English translations will be adopted.

The dictionary will contain a plurality of outside matter, including two user’s guides: a technical and a lexicographical guide. The technical user’s guide explains the technical aspects of using the electronic dictionary; the lexicographical user’s guide explains the structure of the dictionary, the articles and the optimal way in which to find the information the user is looking for. Both user’s guides must be prepared so that they are a combination of text and illustrations that mutually support each other, as this is the best way in which to inform the user (see Nielsen 1995a: 172-174).

The dictionary will also contain outside matter such as specific examples of the various elements of the annual report (format etc.). It will be possible to directly access these model examples (standard examples) from the articles to the extent necessary to fulfil the functions of the dictionary (see the discussion in Nielsen 1994: 108-112). Comparative Danish and English examples will best meet the requirements, and the English examples will be translations of the Danish examples, e.g. a Danish balance sheet and its English translation. The main reason for adopting this approach is that full comparability will be achieved between the information contained in the Danish and English texts. Furthermore, this approach also facilitates the illustration of terminological and syntactical differences between idiomatic Danish and English within the field of accounting. It is also intended to provide relevant links to authentic Danish, British and US financial statements available on the Internet.

The dictionary will contain two indexes, a Danish and an English (see Kirkness 1989; and Nielsen 1995a: 181-184). The Danish index is an alphabetically arranged list of all the Danish lemmata, and by clicking on a lemma the user will be led directly to the relevant article. The English index is an alphabetically arranged list of all the English equivalents presented in the articles. By clicking on an equivalent the user will be led directly to the relevant article, and in those cases where the English equivalent is found in several articles, the user will be given the choice between all the relevant articles. The purpose of these two indexes is to fulfil the primary and secondary functions of the dictionary.


8. Textual Condensation

In contrast to textual condensation in printed dictionaries, textual condensation in electronic dictionaries is inappropriate. Firstly, more space is available in the electronic database for the information in the dictionary and secondly, condensed text parts will not be found through electronic search for words and combinations of words, for instance if the lemma has been replaced by a swung dash (tilde) in the phrases, and if the database contains condensed Danish and English text parts. The principle should therefore be that syntagmatic information is not be subjected to textual condensation, neither in the source language nor in the target language. This will ensure the best results from an electronic search if the search string contains a multiplicity of words, e.g. collocations and phrases. For a discussion of textual condensation in dictionary articles, see Nielsen 2002.

However, textual condensation of the text shown on the screen may be necessary because of the limited space available on the visual display unit. The lexicographers must therefore consider whether the text shown on the screen is to be subjected to textual condensation, and if so, how this is best achieved. In this context the potentially inferior screen resolution on various visual display units should be taken into consideration.


9. Search and Search Structures

It is important to have a clearly defined search structure in an electronic dictionary because the user will not be able to turn over one page after another as in printed dictionaries. Admittedly, this is possible in some of the existing electronic dictionaries because they are nothing more than printed dictionaries that have been transferred directly to an electronic medium with the entire layout unchanged. In contrast, the projected Internet dictionary will be designed and prepared from scratch and is therefore born as an electronic dictionary. Accordingly, the lexicographers must give careful consideration to the search options that make it possible for the user to benefit optimally from the information contained in the dictionary in connection with text-independent functions.

Each dictionary involves two search structures/needs: that of the lexicographer and that of the user; and they have completely different requirements. The lexicographer wants very detailed search options and an equally detailed presentation, including a number of statistical data that are of no concern to the user. On the other hand, the user may find himself in two fundamentally different situations: 1) The user has a specific problem that needs to be solved and no time to waste. 2) The user may have plenty of time and bases his search on a specific problem that he may already have solved, but now he is looking for some sort of confirmation of his findings, i.e. a form of infotainment. The following discussion of the search structure(s) focuses on situation 1 above, i.e. the user with a specific problem and limited time.


9.1 Search Results

From the point of view of programming, the search will take its point of departure in the result, i.e. what the user needs as the result of his search. The user will be able to type the search term in one, and only one, query text box. The search term may be a single-word linguistic unit or a string of words and will always be made up of the exact spelling in the box (logical AND).

The following example illustrates the expected search function. The user types the search term in the query text box and sends the query by clicking on a search button. It is only possible to search for one term at a time, but this term may be made up of a multiplicity of words and may be the inflected form of a word. The search will start in the articles so that the term searched for is found (in the order indicated) in the inflection field, the lemma field, the example fields (i.e. collocations and phrases), and finally in the outside matter. When the search process is complete, the user will know that the search has given one of the following possible results:

1. Search term was found x number of times in

(a) the lemma,

(b) x number of articles,

(c) the outside matter.

2. Search term was not found → continue search?/check spelling.

In each of the categories 1(a) to 1(c), it will be possible to display an automatically generated “synopsis” (“summary”), which may contain the first two sentences of the relevant text part in the outside matter, or the lemma and equivalent with grammar, the article etc. Practical considerations – especially from the user’s point of view – dictate that this option should be sparingly used as it often gives irrelevant and partly misleading results.

More specifically, the result of a search will show:

  1. The article in which the search term exactly matches the lemma.
  2. The article in which the basic form of the search term exactly matches the lemma.
  3. Links to articles in which the search term matches part of the lemma.
  4. Links to articles in which the basic form of the search term is part of the lemma.
  5. Links to articles containing the basic form of the search term in the examples.
  6. Links to places in the outside matter where the exact search term is found.
  7. Links to articles in which the basic form of the search term is found in fields other than lemma, inflection, collocations, phrases or in the outside matter.

This may seem like a plethora of information, but it is important to appreciate that only items 1 and 2 above will be displayed on the screen as complete articles; and if the search term exactly matches the basic form, only result 2 will be displayed on the screen. All other items are links of not more than one line. These links are small and may be placed so that they do not interfere with the text of the article, e.g. in a framed box placed on the left or the right of the screen (and the text).

The important point is that the user will be able to decide how much or how little he wants displayed on the screen. The query text box will be placed in screen mid-position, and the user may opt for certain article fields not to be displayed on the screen. The search itself will not be affected by the user’s choice, as it is a pure output function. In the design phase, the lexicographers will have to decide whether the system should “remember” the user’s preferences, and if so, how this is to be implemented technically.


9.2 Search Fields

The lexicographers provide the user with a database in which each article is divided into its smallest constituents, i.e. lemma, inflection, equivalents, collocations, phrases, cross-references etc., collectively referred to as the article. The information is gathered in a special field containing the article in a user-defined form (output as described above).

The database also contains an unstructured collection of texts, in casu the outside matter. These texts must be present in the database in an indexed form, either as key words (e.g. all words found in the lemma list) or as free text. Both have advantages and disadvantages affecting the search, and only a thorough test will show which is the better option for the dictionary.

The search result is generated ad hoc in a special field in the database, i.e. updating will occur after each search. The advantage of the procedure is that the database will always be updated subsequent to the latest search even if additions, amendments or corrections have been made. There is no real alternative to this solution. As the users may opt for certain fields not to be displayed on the screen, it is not possible to make fully programmed result fields. Such fields are not difficult to programme, but require sufficient hardware capacity of the host server, which, other things being equal, must be expected to be put to the test as soon as the dictionary is used regularly by a substantial number of users. However, this method gives superior and targeted results instead of showing large and comprehensive articles to the user, who may only be interested in, for instance, a synonym. In other words: The focus is on the individual user and his needs.

For the search to be optimal, the user will be told which data will be displayed after the search has been completed, because the search is largely the user’s responsibility. The user must expressly be told that if he chooses to limit the display of search results, this will have no effect on the search itself. The search engine will still search those fields that the user have chosen not to view, and it requires an active effort by the user to view such findings.

Finally, another search option is considered, but this is merely a stand-by option. It should be possible for the user to search directly on the Internet by clicking an icon providing a direct link to a search engine (probably Google). By a click on the icon, the user will be taken directly to the search engine and the original word written in the query text box in the dictionary will automatically be transferred to the query text box of the search engine. The search engine will then automatically continue the search. The reason for considering this option is that the user will be able to find authentic examples in Danish or English, and more collocations and phrases than contained in the dictionary; and also words that are not contained in the dictionary. An indirect search option like this ensures that the user, through the dictionary, will have the possibility of searching for the newest terminology; and this may also be seen as an indirect updating of the dictionary.


9.3 English-Danish Search

It will not be practically possible to design the database so that a search from English into Danish gives the same results as a search from Danish into English, because not all fields in the articles contain equivalents. If the entire dictionary/database is “reversed”, it is necessary to compile two separate dictionaries with cross-references to each other. Admittedly, it is possible to “reverse” the database so that the English equivalents will become lemmata, but this can only be used as the basis for the compilation of a new dictionary, alternatively a new lemma list. This does not mean that it will be impossible to search among the English equivalents after some adjustments have been made, but the data returned to the user will be severely amputated and somewhat misleading. This is the reason why an English-Danish search option is not part of the project, but it may constitute a separate, additional project and consequently, the planned dictionary will only include the option of searching in an English index (see section 7 above).


10. Model Article

It is appropriate to conclude this paper by making a brief comparison with other LSP dictionaries available on the Danish market. Firstly, there are no Danish-English accounting dictionaries on the Internet. Secondly, only four LSP dictionaries cover accounting terms in Danish and English at the time of writing (autumn 2002). Thirdly, none of the four dictionaries contains grammatical information on the lemma and the equivalent other than word class labels, none contains specific examples of translated accounting texts, and only two contain a very limited number of collocations and phrases. This is very limited help to the user who has to translate or produce accounting texts.

Of the four dictionaries, only FRY is an accounting dictionary proper. The main disadvantage is that the latest edition was published in 1987 and is therefore outdated. Furthermore, less than 0.5% of the lemmata are defined. The other three LSP dictionaries are not accounting dictionaries proper, but multi-field dictionaries that intend to cover all or many of the fields in the business sector, for instance, computing, graphics, human resources, law, manufacturing, politics and statistics, with a limited coverage of each subject field as a result. Consequently, accounting is only one among several subject fields in these dictionaries. LHB was published in 1999 and does not include the most recent and most relevant accounting terminology. Moreover, it contains no definitions or explanations. Only one of the four dictionaries contains definitions and that is BL from 2001, but despite the fact that it is the newest dictionary, the preface explicitly states that it does not cover the terminology of the Danish Financial Statements Act 2001; and accounting terms make up only a very limited percentage of the lemma stock. Its use in connection with accounting is therefore seriously restricted. DEØ was also published in 2001 and is the only dictionary that allows for the new accounting terminology. Most of the important terms and concepts have been included, but there are no definitions or explanations of the terms and concepts; and there are hardly any collocations and phrases with translations into English.

Accordingly, there is no Danish-English accounting dictionary that contains definitions of the accounting terms, grammatical information relevant for translation and production of accounting texts, collocations, phrases, cross-references to other relevant information, and examples of concrete, translated accounting texts.

The following brief comparison between the projected accounting dictionary and the above existing printed dictionaries focuses on the Danish term kreditrisiko. Only LHB and DEØ have lemmatised this term, whereas the term has not been lemmatised in FRY and BL. LHB and DEØ contain the following information on the term kreditrisiko:

kreditrisiko credit risk [LHB]

kreditrisiko credit risk; behæftet med ~ exposed to credit risk [DEØ]

As the user interface of the electronic dictionary has not yet been fully designed, it is not possible to show an example of a complete article and its ultimate layout. However, in order to show how the planned accounting dictionary differs from the existing dictionaries at the article level, the following model article treating the Danish term kreditrisiko illustrates the different types of information the dictionary will contain:


[lemma]              kreditrisiko

[grammar]          (en risiko; risikoer, risikoerne eller risici, risiciene)

[definition]         En kreditrisiko er risikoen ved at yde kredit, dvs. risikoen for, at låntageren eller udstederen af et gældsbevis ikke opfylder sine betalingsforpligtelser

[equivalent]            credit risk

[grammar]          (pl. credit risks)

[synonym]         repayment risk

[pronun.]            ICON FOR SOUND FILE

[collocation]      afdække en kreditrisiko                                             hedge a credit risk

                             afdækning af kreditrisiko                                          hedging of credit risk

                             behæftet med kreditrisiko                                         exposed to credit risk

                             formidling af kreditrisiko                                          intermediation of credit risk

                             formindske kreditrisikoen                                         reduce the credit risk

                             fuldt ud elimineret kreditrisiko                 fully eliminated credit risk

                             fordele kreditrisikoen                                                 diversify the credit risk

                             kvantificere kreditrisikoen                                        quantify the credit risk

                             overføre kreditrisikoen                                              transfer the credit risk

                             overvåge kreditrisikoen                                             monitor the credit risk

                             påtage sig en kreditrisiko                                           assume a credit risk

                             reducere kreditrisikoen betydeligt                            reduce the credit risk considerably

                             sprede kreditrisikoen                                                  diversify the credit risk

                             styre kreditrisikoen                                                     manage the credit risk

                             styring af kreditrisiko                                                 credit risk management

                             øge kreditrisikoen                                                       increase the credit risk

[phrase]              under en lavkonjunktur er kreditrisikoen typisk voksende

                             in an economic downturn, the credit risk is typically on the increase


                             reducere kreditrisikoen på en lang række eksponeringer

                             reduce the credit risk on a wide range of exposures


                             et likvidt marked for kreditderivater kan medvirke til at øge prisinformationen om kreditrisiko

                                                          a liquid market for credit derivatives can contribute to enlarging price information concerning credit risk

[cross-ref.]          juridisk risiko; likviditetsrisiko; markedsrisiko; renterisiko; valutarisiko


11. Literature

Bergenholtz, Henning/Kaufmann, Uwe (1997): ”Terminography and Lexicography. A Critical Survey of Dictionaries from a Single Specialised Field”. In: Hermes 18, 1997, 91–125.

BL =  Johansen, Niels/Kezunovich, Bozhidar/Kiertzner, Lars/Lyderup, Jens/Nielsen, Carl-Johan/Pedersen, Kurt (2001): Business Leksikon. Århus: BK Service 2001.

DEØ = Svensson, Annemette Lyng (2001): DanskEngelsk Økonomisk ordbog. København: Samfundslitteratur 2001.

Duvå, Grete/Laursen, Anna-Lise/Maidahl, Lisbet (1992): ”Brugerundersøgelser vedrørende oversættelse af fagtekster”. In: R. V. Fjeld (red.): Nordiske studier i leksikografi. Rapport fra Konferanse om leksikografi i Norden 28.31. mai 1991. Oslo: Nordisk forening for leksikografi 1992, 105–­­133.

Duvå, Grete/Laursen, Anna-Lise (1995): ”Tekstbaseret lemmaselektion”. In: A. Svavarsdóttir/G. Kvaran/J. H. Jónsson (red.): Nordiske studier i leksikografi 3. Rapport fra Konferanse om leksikografi i Norden, Reykjavik 7.–­­10. juni 1995. Reykjavik: Nordisk forening for leksikografi 1995, 93–105.

FRY = Fryd, Ejnar (1990): Anglo/amerikanskdansk/Danskanglo/amerikansk specialordbog inden for revision, regnskabsvæsen m.v. 3. udgave revideret og ajourført af statsautoriseret revisor Per Otto Bech. København: FSRs Forlag 1990.

Hansen, Børge (1985): Hjælpebog for engelske korrespondenter. 3. reviderede udgave ved Jørgen Alsø. København: Schønberg 1985.

Kirkness, Alan (1989): ”Wörterbuchregister”. In: F. J. Hausmann/O. Reichmann/H. E. Wiegand/L. Zgusta (hrsg.): Wörterbücher. Ein internationales Handbuch zur Lexikographie. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 1989, 767–771.

KPMG (2002): The Danish Financial Statements Act.

LHB =  Høedt, Jørgen (red.) (1999): L&H Business fagordbog danskengelsk. Herlev: L&H Ordbøger 1999.

Lindemann, Margarete (2000): ”Vorüberlegungen zur einem französisch-deutschen Wörterbuch der Fachsprache der Wirtschaft“. In: H. E. Wiegand (Hrsg.): Germanistische Linguistik 151152 2000, 173–214.

Nielsen, Sandro (1989): „Kritisk oversigt over engelske og danske juridiske ordbøger“. In: Hermes 3, 1989, 55–75.

Nielsen, Sandro (1990):”Contrastive Description of Dictionaries Covering LSP Communication”. In: Fachsprache/International Journal of LSP 3-4/1990, 129-136.

Nielsen, Sandro (1994): The Bilingual LSP Dictionary. Principles and Practice for Legal language. Tübingen: Narr 1994 (Forum für Fachsprachen-Forum Band 24).

Nielsen, Sandro (1995a): „Dictionary Components“. In: H. Bergenholtz/S. Tarp (eds.): Manual of Specialised Lexicography. The preparation of specialised dictionaries. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins, 1995, 167–187.

Nielsen, Sandro (1995b): „Microstructure“. In: H. Bergenholtz/S. Tarp (eds.): Manual of Specialised Lexicography. The preparation of specialised dictionaries. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins, 1995, 200–211.

Nielsen, Sandro (2002): “Textual Condensation in the Articles of de Gruyter Wörterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache”. In: H. E. Wiegand (ed.): Perspektiven der pädagogischen Lexikographie des Deutschen II. Untersuchungen anhand des „de Gruyter Wörterbuchs Deutsch als Fremdsprache. Tübingen: Niemeyer 2002, 597-608.

Pedersen, Jette (1995): “Systematic Classification”. In: H. Bergenholtz/S. Tarp (eds.): Manual of Specialised Lexicography. The preparation of specialised dictionaries. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins, 1995, 83–90.

Schneider, Franz (1998): Studien zur kontextuellen Fachlexikographie. Das deutsch-französische Wörterbuch der Rechnungslegung. Tübingen: Niemeyer 1998 (Lexicographica Series Maior 83).


Chronological bibliography        Annotated bibliography