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Meteorological glossaries and dictionaries: A review of their history and current state

Miloslav MülleraThe Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Prague, Czechia
bCharles University, Faculty of Science, Prague, Czechia

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Barbora KocánovácThe Czech Academy of Sciences, Cabinet for Classical Studies of the Institute of Philosophy, Prague, Czechia

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Petr ZacharovaThe Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Prague, Czechia

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Abstract

The transformation of meteorology into a modern science raised needs for collections of scientific term definitions (glossaries) and of foreign language equivalents (dictionaries). The Meteorological Glossary (United Kingdom) and the “Lexique météorologique” (France) were the only meteorological glossaries issued separately until World War II. In 1959, a dozen of such works existed, half of which were due to individuals and the other half due to collective efforts, including the comprehensive Glossary of Meteorology (USA) and the provisional version of International Meteorological Vocabulary. Collective authorship has been shown to be more efficient and generally prevailed in recent decades.

Regarding dictionaries, the language in which the terms are sorted tells a lot about the purpose of a dictionary. In the 1930s, the British, French and German multilingual dictionaries were ordered alphabetically in their languages which suggests that the dictionaries were intended mainly for foreign scholars. Since World War II, bilingual dictionaries have originated in many countries, with the terms usually being ordered in foreign languages, which is more useful for domestic scholars. Dictionaries continued to be compiled subsequently because the International Meteorological Vocabulary remained limited to English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Since 2000, some meteorological glossaries and dictionaries have obtained electronic versions because such versions enable them to be kept up-to-date and allow many practical functionalities, including full-text searches, links among terms and the thematic filtering of terms. While the diversity of meteorological glossaries will probably remain in the future, a truly international meteorological dictionary could be created by connecting national databases.

Corresponding author: Miloslav Müller, muller@ufa.cas.cz

Abstract

The transformation of meteorology into a modern science raised needs for collections of scientific term definitions (glossaries) and of foreign language equivalents (dictionaries). The Meteorological Glossary (United Kingdom) and the “Lexique météorologique” (France) were the only meteorological glossaries issued separately until World War II. In 1959, a dozen of such works existed, half of which were due to individuals and the other half due to collective efforts, including the comprehensive Glossary of Meteorology (USA) and the provisional version of International Meteorological Vocabulary. Collective authorship has been shown to be more efficient and generally prevailed in recent decades.

Regarding dictionaries, the language in which the terms are sorted tells a lot about the purpose of a dictionary. In the 1930s, the British, French and German multilingual dictionaries were ordered alphabetically in their languages which suggests that the dictionaries were intended mainly for foreign scholars. Since World War II, bilingual dictionaries have originated in many countries, with the terms usually being ordered in foreign languages, which is more useful for domestic scholars. Dictionaries continued to be compiled subsequently because the International Meteorological Vocabulary remained limited to English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Since 2000, some meteorological glossaries and dictionaries have obtained electronic versions because such versions enable them to be kept up-to-date and allow many practical functionalities, including full-text searches, links among terms and the thematic filtering of terms. While the diversity of meteorological glossaries will probably remain in the future, a truly international meteorological dictionary could be created by connecting national databases.

Corresponding author: Miloslav Müller, muller@ufa.cas.cz
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