Language of descriptions

Mike Dallwitz miked at ENTO.CSIRO.AU
Fri Oct 27 12:24:33 CDT 1995

                                                               27 October 1995

Language problems can be greatly reduced by the use of descriptive databases.
Once a good character list has been created for a group, it can be translated
into several languages. No further translation effort is required to produce
full or diagnostic descriptions, and traditional or interactive keys; or to
describe new taxa (unless this requires additional characters). The main
limitation is that any free-text comments which are used to supplement the
coded descriptions are not translated. Even languages such as Chinese can be
handled in this way fairly easily.

Also, brief diagnostic descriptions published in a journal are more acceptable
if backed up by full descriptions in a database. It is practical to make
database descriptions more comprehensive than those published as hard copy,
and, of course, they are much more maintainable and useful.

There is an INTKEY package for wood anatomy, in English and German, at or A Spanish version is in
preparation. The INTKEY program itself is available in English, French,
German, Malay, Portuguese, and Spanish.

We have had offers to translate Leslie Watson's Angiosperm-families database
into Spanish and German, and I hope to make arrangements for this soon.

Mike Dallwitz                                  Email md at
CSIRO Division of Entomology                   Fax +61 6 246 4000
GPO Box 1700, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia     Phone +61 6 246 4075

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