A European Project

DicoPro is a project funded within the Multilingual Information Society Programme (MLIS), an EU initiative launched by the European Commission's DG XIII in November 1996 to promote the linguistic diversity of the Community in the Information Society. MLIS's objectives are to support the construction of an infrastructure for European language resources, to mobilise and expand the language industries, and to promote the use of advanced language tools in the European public sector, with particular focus on the exploitation of exisiting tools and resources.

The goals of the DicoPro project encompass three domains:

the conversion of several dictionaries to electronic form, stored in standard SGML format
the development of a uniform, cross-platform tool to enable translators and other language professionals connected to an intranet to consult dictionaries and related lexical data from multiple sources
the exploration and assessment of various distribution and licensing schemes for electronic dictionaries whereby usability and convenience of the end-user is balanced with the need to protect the property of publishers

Collaborating in DicoPro are a research institute (ISSCO), two dictionary publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins), three translation/documentation companies (Multilingual Technology, L&H Mendez, Xynos), and a language industry consultant (LIM). DicoPro was launched in April, 1998 and will run until September, 1999.

What is the current situation?

A plethora of online resources...

In their day-to-day work, language professionals, in particular translators and technical writers, consult a variety of dictionaries and other reference works. For example, for a single problem, a translator may consult several mono- and bilingual dictionaries to ascertain the precise meaning of a word in a given context. Traditionally, these were all paper-based works, but today more and more such resources are available in electronic format, distributed on CD-ROM.

Unfortunately, the power of today's advanced search techniques is hindered by the variety of formats and proprietary interfaces of these offerings. Even among the offerings of a single publisher, not all CD-ROMs have the same interface. Users are required to deal with multiple search programs, cluttering their screens with redundant windows and toolbars. Concurrent access to the same dictionary by multiple users may not be possible, due to the lack of site licensing schemes enabling shared access, forcing users to pass CD-ROMs back and forth by hand.

...the need for a unified user interface

This lack of user-friendliness often leads language professionals to prefer traditional paper volumes, but they thereby lose the potential of the powerful search capabilities offered by desktop computers to improve and facilitate their work. As such, companies and organizations involved in translation and technical writing invest less in electronic resources than you would expect, leaving some language professionals with less access to online dictionaries than the average home user.

In the future, as the networked PC becomes ubiquitous, local access to a CD-ROM may not always be possible or desirable, hence the need for a site-oriented client/server approach, encompassing multiple end-user platforms (Windows, Mac, Unix, etc) and based on non-proprietary standards (i.e. SGML, HTML)

Our answer?

Building and testing an "open" solution

DicoPro proposes a commercially viable tool based on existing standards that would alleviate these deficiencies by enabling simultaneous access to multiple lexical resources from different publishers. It would provide a uniform interface allowing parallel queries in multiple dictionaries, regardless of the actual physical location of the resource. During the course of the project, several of the partners will convert existing lexical resources to SGML format for use and potential exploitation with the DicoPro tool. The DicoPro consortium will also prepare a study of pricing and licensing schemes, and implement several of these in the software tool under development. The software will be installed and tested at three translation companies, which will provide the project with vital real-world feedback.

What will we deliver?


The DicoPro consortium anticipates the following results from the project:

Who is behind DicoPro?


The DicoPro consortium comprises the following active partners:

  • Hachette (F),
  • HarperCollins Publishers (UK),
  • ISSCO (CH), http:// (DicoPro Technical Coordinator)
  • LIM (NL), (DicoPro Administrative Coordinator)
  • Mendez-Language & Technology (B),
  • Multilingual Technology Ltd (UK),
  • Xynos Translations Ltd (G),
  • In addition, the project has several passive partners contributing expertise but not receiving funding:

  • Langenscheidt AG (D),
  • The Localisation Industry Standards Association (CH),
  • Oxford University Press (UK),

  • dicopro home page


    The DicoPro project was made possible by European Community and Swiss government funding.

    Contents copyright ©1998-1999 DicoPro consortium