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Dekalog 5

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Want to know how to spell something? See which of your two versions has more results in Google. Take a very basic example, "dissappoint" or "disappoint". The first gives you 23,600 hits, the second, 1,800,000. Democracy comes to the world of spelling!

Below David takes the idea a step further. Cross-referencing terminology, latin terms and pictures in Google creates the biggest and relatively infallible dictionary/encyclopedia in the world.



Dekalog 5 - Google as a dictionary

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Just a word about Google, which is the secret of meeting preparation, indeed of embedding any little nugget of knowledge, in the sense that you can push back the boundaries of ignorance in a way that was impossible in the old days, when you had to rely on reference works like the excellent Quid as a source of information. These things are not easy to describe, so before sending off the latest version I’ll do a little tidying-up exercise, using a few queries that people have brought to me recently.

I was on the Armenia delegation, they were talking about a lake, I thought maybe it was Lake Van in neighbouring Turkey, although it seemed unlikely. If you need a map, go into Google and as your search string put Armenia space CIA. The first match is the CIA Factbook where the map is sufficiently detailed for most practical purposes, and it was Sevana Lich, or Sevana Lake.

There was a debate about the EMEA and paediatric medicines and the word “mice” kept coming up. Put in EMEA mice paediatric medicine and the first match has “Medicines Investigation for the Children of Europe (MICE) is proposed”.

Somebody asked me how you say jemioluszka in Hungarian, jemioluszka being a bird, which jak sama nazwa wskazuje (as the name suggests) eats mistletoe. Go into Google and put in “jemioluszka” and look it up in images. If you see the word Wikipedia anywhere in the addresses you’ll get the Latin name, which is Bombycilla garrulus. I didn’t know an unfailingly Hungarian word so I tried adding "magyar" to the search string and it turned up csonttollú in the first four matches so I tried that in Images and it was obviously the same bird, so jemioluszka is csonttollú.

Alternatively, for other languages, go back into Google and type in Eurodicautom. Type in the Latin name, setting the source language to Latin, usually I set the search to all fields and all languages, just browsing through the results is useful, and you’ll find the English equivalent, waxwing.

The entry on Cambodia in the Committees Guide is at least five years out of date. [Check out the brand new 2007 Committees Guide here!] I only update things on a need-to-know basis, if I’m going to be doing a delegation or if it’s coming up in a plenary debate. If you only have five minutes, which is often the case, go into Google, put in Cambodia space BBC. The population is now 14.8m, so I’ve just changed that in the file, and in a page or two you get a real sense of the current situation in the country. There’s a section called Timeline which gives you a potted history.

Google is especially good in Polish because only Polish has the word chrzaszczami and you don’t have to use the diacriticals (although it’s better if you do). Bizarrely, there are things you can’t find easily, like lyrics from the band Republika (although “Republika” space “teksty” gets you there), because the word also exists in other languages, but if you use the simple ploy of adding the word czy to the search string you’ll always find it.

A refinement of this trick is to add the word czyli (i.e. or its equivalent in the language you are looking for) if you’ve not been able to get any joy elsewhere and it’s something specific and un-Eurodicautom-friendly, like for example “moral hazard”. Scanning the matches you’ll quickly find Pokusa nadu¿ycia, ryzyko moralne, nonszalancja wobec ryzyka.

When a phrase is obviously technical but couched in general terms, use brackets before and after, for example in the budget control section “all revenue has been received”, looking for some euro-reference in the address. The second match has in the address and the text gives you the remainder of the formula, “The examination by the Court of Auditors of whether all revenue has been received and all expenditure incurred in a lawful and proper manner shall have regard to the provisions of the Treaties, the budget, this Regulation, the implementing rules and all other acts adopted pursuant to the Treaties.”

I’ve yet to find anything I couldn’t find in Google, in any language, which has freed up a good deal of space on my shelves. If anybody has Google tricks to teach me feel free to send them to



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