Georgia produces the pearl of dictionaries

"Messenger Online", March 11, 2010 

'A Comprehensive English-Georgian Online Dictionary’ has only been available on the internet for one month but has already created huge resonance in Georgia and abroad for its unique features. A small group of Georgian linguists, led by Tinatin Margalitadze and consisting of George Meladze, Gela Khundadze, Arrian Chanturia and Shukia Apridonidze, are making a huge contribution by creating a really comprehensive and high level dictionary which will give readers an opportunity to enrich their knowledge and use the appropriate terms and phrases while working.

Professor Tinatin Margalitadze, Editor-in-Chief and the publisher of ‘A Comprehensive English-Georgian Online Dictionary’ and Research Director of the Tbilisi State University Lexicographic Centre hopes that this project will become a genuine guideline for English learners as well as English specialists.

Despite the fact that no institution has ever supported this project financially, Margalitadze has stepped in as best she could and all the already published volumes, as well as the online programme, have been financed by her and her family.

Professor Margalitadze has given us a brief history of the dictionary. The idea of creating a comprehensive English-Georgian dictionary was first mooted in the 1960s at the Tbilisi State University English Philology Department by the outstanding scholar and translator and then Head of the Department Givi Gachechiladze. In the 1980s the English Department selected the Editorial Staff of the dictionary who were entrusted with examining already compiled word entries and initiating editorial and publishing activities. After examining the existing material, the Editorial Staff had to conclude that it was impossible to edit the material in the form in which it was executed and it was necessary to thoroughly revise the already compiled dictionary entries. The Editorial Staff developed entirely new principles for the creation of the English-Georgian dictionary. The entries were revised based on the most reliable and respected English explanatory dictionaries.

The revision and editing of the material of the Comprehensive English-Georgian Dictionary has continued for 25 years. In 1992 the Editorial Staff decided to digitalise the edited entries of the Dictionary and start publishing it in fascicles on a letter by letter basis. In 1995 the first fascicle, letter A was published, soon followed by B, C and so on. The dictionary is now published up to the letter O (13 volumes altogether).

One of the unique features of the dictionary is that it includes a significant quantity of terms from practically every academic field, such as anatomy, astronomy, biology, economics, geography, arts, linguistics, mathematics, military, law, medicine etc. Prof. Margalitadze told us that she and her team have a great desire to publish a series of specialised English-Georgian dictionaries containing the terminology of different fields. The first book in this series is the English-Georgian Military Dictionary compiled at the request of the Ministry of Defence of Georgia. This contains about 9,500 modern British and American military terms from such areas as tactics, operations, manoeuvres, training, units, personnel, ranks, weapons, equipment and so on.

Prof. Howard Aronson from the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature of the University of Chicago writes in a letter to Prof. Margalitadze that "A Comprehensive English-Georgian Dictionary” is extremely important not only for Georgians but for foreign learners and specialists of the Georgian Language as well. This Dictionary will be really comprehensive and greatly overshadow every earlier attempt at making such a dictionary”.

The company which publishes the dictionary, also founded by Professor Margalitadze, has a very interesting logo. Margaliti Limited, founded in 2005 specifically to publish the dictionary, has as its symbol a shell (margaliti means “pearl” in English) which contains not a pearl but a dictionary. Margalitadze says that this is not only a pun on her family name but expresses the genuine idea that the dictionary is a pearl and, as it is a long and difficult process to create a pearl in a shell, so it is with the dictionary.