09 November 2007

Spellings, names and other essentials

This document is in English, but is it British or American English?

It really does matter.

Glossaries are especially important during translation. Word lists, databases and guides also help us to agree on the meaning of specific words and phrases. Adopting a standardised reference tool can not only help to avoid misunderstandings but also ensure consistency and thus coherence and good branding across your organisation.

Below are some useful references for glossaries and other terminology and other guides relating to the UN system and further afield.

UNBIS Thesaurus
The multilingual UNBIS Thesaurus contains the terminology used in subject analysis of documents and other materials relevant to UN programmes and activities.

UNTERM: UN Multilingual Terminology Database
UNTERM is a multilingual terminology database which provides United Nations nomenclature and special terms in all six official UN languages.

UN Glossary of Standard Terms (classification, nomenclature)
Approved by the Expert Group on International Economic and Social Classifications as a working document.

UNDP Glossary
Intranet access only
Glossary to business practices, as defined within UNDP.

UN Correspondence Manual
A guide to the drafting, processing and dispatch of official United Nations communications. (PDF)

UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)
Requires institutional subscription
EOLSS is an integrated compendium of sixteen encyclopedias and is developed under the auspices of the UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, UK.

AGROVOC Thesaurus by FAO
A multilingual, structured and controlled vocabulary designed to cover the terminology of all subject fields in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food and related domains (e.g. environment).

ILO Thesaurus
A compilation of more than 4000 terms relating to the world of work. Every term is presented in English, French, and Spanish. Many of the terms are followed by definitions or explanatory notes.

3-letter country codes (e.g. USA, DEU)
Countries or areas, codes and abbreviations

OECD Macrothesaurus
The Macrothesaurus for Information Processing in the field of Economic and Social Development represents a continuation of the combined efforts of many organisations over a period of almost 30 years to create a common vocabulary to facilitate the indexing, retrieval and exchange of development-related information.
Online: (Engl., Sp. Fr.)
Book: http://oberon.sourceoecd.org/vl=2204601/cl=31/nw=1/rpsv/%7E6669/v1998n12/s1/p1l

Oxford English Dictionary Online
For drafting and editing UN documents and publications, the authority for spelling and hyphenation in the United Nations is the 11th edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary published in 2004. Refer to Editorial Directive dated 16 March 2005 [http://www.unu.edu/hq/library/resource/Editorial-directive_ST2005.pdf]. The OED provides authoritative definitions of over 500,000 words. It traces the usage of words from their first recorded occurence to the modern period through 2.5 million quotations from a wide rang of international language sources. It also offers the best in etymological analysis and detailed listings of variant spellings.

Europa World Plus
Requires paid subscription
Europa World Plus brings the renowned The Europa World Year Book and the nine Europa Regional Surveys of the World to the Web as a dynamic online database. It provides detailed country surveys containing the latest analytical, statistical and directory data available for over 250 countries and territories. It also contains a comprehensive listing of some 1,900 international organizations.