All members of the team are experienced colleagues in the fields of landscape architecture or environmental planning, and especially important is the fact that they are native speakers of the languages into which they translate.
A total of approximately 10,000 terms (including synonyms) have been compiled and translated into five languages (British and American English, Spanish, French and German) as an aid in translation and communication in the very wide, professional fields of landscape architecture, urban planning, nature conservation and environmental protection, as well as for use in privateoffices, public authorities, research and educational facilities.
One of the dictionary’s main aims is to explain the equivalent terms as clearly and comprehensively as possible in each language for the above mentioned professional fields. Collective terms were therefore often selected, under which cross references marked with blue arrows (►) are leading to a family of similar terms.
The lead language of the dictionary published in 2001 was German (a “brick language” which tends to invent a specific word with its own precise definition for each concept) and intensive research was carried out in German specialist periodicals, textbooks, technical manuals, laws and regulations for the current use of the terminology in order to form a thesaurus as the basis for the dictionary. Each member of the group was not just concerned with providing the simple translation of a term for use in his or her respective language. As often as possible the working group also endeavoured to give a varied picture in the definitions and provided explanations of the terms at the different levels at which they are used in practice. Various connotations of the word, together with an explanation of the different technical and legal backgrounds, not only help to clarify the meaning, but also enable a precise translation of a term.
Over the years, the technical and legislative development of a term was often monitored and updated, as far as was possible, in each of the different language areas. Old termini were retained as synonyms to assist in the evaluation of older literature and legislation. It was not intended originally to define every term. During the work, however, it became obvious how important short explanations or definitions are, if one is to think in the right direction when searching for the most precise translation. Where this was not possible, the nearest correlation between the term and its concept was devised. With the often very different standards in technology, planning procedures, legislation and environmental consciousness in the various countries in which the languages are spoken, this sometimes seemed to be an impossible task. Seemingly endless, bilateral discussions within the committee about the exact content of most lemmas had therefore to take place. (For example more than 16 journeys to America and many trips to England, France and Spain were also undertaken).
Dialogues with specialists and colleagues or friends of members of the group in both Europe and the U.S.A were held to ascertain how the terms could be best translated and defined. We are most grateful to everybody who helped in this way, because without them our all-encompassing work and the various linguistic possibilities of how to express a term, would not have been achieved.
An attempt was made to formulate the definitions in each language so that a non-specialist would understand the meaning of a term despite the use of technical expressions. In the fields of planning and ecology many terms do not always have the same connotation, because they are derived from various schools of thought. The committee did not venture onto this wide and to a certain extent scientifically insecure terrain. We ask for forgiveness in this respect.
Besides the many planning and construction disciplines, important terms related to fields such as the conservation of ancient monuments, agriculture, forestry, botany, zoology, geography, waste management, building contracts and fee payments as well as surveying and many others were also covered, in order to elucidate the interdisciplinary context of planning terms and their formulation.
For translations we usually turned to specialist literature, technical standards, as well as legislation in each of the languages. In recent years the Internet has also become an invaluable source of information. Multilingual dictionaries were only used in a few cases. Readers, who wish to gain more information, can refer in many instances to the cited sources, often with page numbers.
Many examples of terms are given in context to demonstrate their use and how they are usually expressed, especially when a term is used as a noun, but as a verb in another language. Non-existent or approximate equivalents in one or another language are suggested, and these are indicated by the symbols (≠) and (±). Variations in the meaning of the same word are, according to their extent, either numbered in rank as lemmas or illustrated in the definition. Words, which originate in Spanish, French, or German, and for which there is no common equivalent in the English language, are underlined in the respective languages.
The basic translation element in the dictionary is the English key word in bold type and these are listed in alphabetical order and numerical sequence, with a symbol for the subject category shown in italics under each term. The term is followed by its definition with applicable references, synonyms and antonyms, and then the equivalent terms and definitions or explanations in the other languages (s—Spanish, f—French and g—German). This unit is called a numbered ‘block’: