Monday, March 9, 2015


I'm sure most of you know about IATE, but just in case you aren't familiar with this incredible multilingual resource, here is an extract from my ATA presentation.

IATE stands for Inter-Active Terminology for Europe and is the EU inter-institutional terminology database, which means that EU institutions and agencies collect and share EU-specific terminology. It currently contains about 8 million entries in 24 languages, that are freely accessible through the IATE website and downloadable in TBX format.

Although sharing terminology sounds like a smart idea it wasn't always like that. Up until 1999 each institution had its own database and when the project was launched they decided to develop a new database merging the content of their existing databases. A few years later, in 2007, IATE was made public for everyone to access.

The database can be found at and it is extremely intuitive and easy to use. It consists of three mandatory fields (search term, source language, and target languages) and two optional criteria (domain and type of search). You insert the term you are looking for in the Search Term field, select source and target languages and hit Search. You can select all 23 languages as target languages, plus Latin and Any (to select all languages).

On the results page, you will see the searched term highlighted and a list of all the results found in the database for that entry in the target languages you have selected. On the right of the screen, you will find some additional information that can help you evaluate the suggested translation. Each result is ranked with a star system that goes from one to four stars, based on whether that term/group of terms has been verified. The @ sign provides information about the term reference, so any associated Directive or Regulation or other material will be displayed. The other icons indicate context, notes and full definition. All this information can be retrieved by simply hovering over or clicking on the icons or by clicking on Full Entry.

All this makes IATE sound pretty amazing, and it is. However, using IATE has also a few downsides. Firstly, there is a large number of duplicates due to the original merging of each institution's database. Secondly, the quality of some entries is lower than others, because some of the material is either old or its accuracy and reliability have never been checked.

As previously mentioned, the whole database can be downloaded. The file in TBX format is about 2.2Gb and this means it cannot be used immediately. Personally, I haven't looked into it yet but if you are interested in downloading IATE you should refer to Paul Filkin's posts on his blog, that provide a very detailed explanation of the process.

There you have it, a quick overview of IATE. Happy searching!

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