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Wörterbuch Labor - Laboratory Dictionary
Deutsch-Englisch - English-German

Theodor C.H. Cole

Hardcover, 453 Pages
2nd Edition, 2009
ISBN: 978-3-540-88579-5


Das Labor ist Ausgangspunkt für die medizinische, pharmazeutische, chemische und biowissenschaftliche Forschung. Fachwissenschaftliches Englisch ist heute im Labor Voraussetzung für effiziente Kommunikation und erfolgreiches Arbeiten. Die entsprechenden Bezeichnungen von Laborausstattung, Geräten, Methoden und Technologie sollten genauso beherrscht werden wie die von Chemikalien und der sicherheitsrelevanten Terminologie. Das Wörterbuch enthält einen Grundwortschatz mit 12.000 Begriffen in jeder Sprachrichtung (Deutsch – Englisch), der dem Benutzer das Leben, Überleben und Arbeiten im Labor erleichtert. Nützlich ist das Wörterbuch für das Verständnis von Handbüchern, Katalogen, Gebrauchs- und Bedienungsanweisungen die bei Laborgeräten mitgeliefert werden, ebenso wie für das Lesen und Verfassen von Publikationen.


Laboratories are the source of all medical, pharmaceutical, chemical, and bioscientific research. Scientific English in the laboratory is a prerequisite for efficient communication and successful work. The corresponding terminology for lab facilities, equipment, tools, methods and technology is of equal importance as that of chemicals and safety-relevant issues. The Laboratory Dictionary contains some 12,000 terms in both languages (German – English) that are essential for living, surviving, and working in the lab. The Laboratory Dictionary will prove itself useful in working with manuals, catalogs, and operation instructions delivered with laboratory equipment as much as for reading and writing of scientific publications.

Review by Matthew Schlecht (Word Alchemy)

For at least two centuries prior to the emergence of modern global and multinational business interests, the fields of science and medicine already spanned the globe regardless of national or continental borders. Practitioners would commonly gain additional training in the laboratories and clinics of a different country, and often in a different language. This robust tradition continues to the present day, although the development of new, cross-disciplinary specializations and the explosion in terminology and jargon have elevated the language barrier to be overcome in such positions.

No one in these fields will question the need for up-to-date technical glossaries such as the “Wörterbuch Labor/Laboratory Dictionary”, which aims to ease the German-English linguistic confusion in the fields of biochemistry, biotechnology, medicine, chemistry and chemical engineering. To get a picky point out of the way at the outset, this is a glossary and not a dictionary, as no real definitions are provided. This work is written primarily for the German-speaking professional who is working in an American facility, and may find terms such as ‘flea stirrer’, ‘cotton pledget’ or ‘falling film’ somewhat opaque. However, this terminology resource works well in both directions, and will also help the Anglophone professional struggling with ‘Schiebefenster’, or puzzling over the difference between ‘Hydratation’ and ‘Hydrierung’.

To be sure, much of the world’s technical and medical vocabulary has undergone homogenization, and cognate English is pervading usage in Europe (and Asia), even where the mother tongue has perfectly good equivalents. While ‘Flash-Chromatographie’ and ‘Western-Blot’ may have dubious parentage in German, they are now registered imports and unlikely to change. However, the differences still far outweigh the similarities, and tools such as this glossary still play an important role in the technical workplace.

One such feature is to redirect the unwary away from “false friends”, by distinguishing ‘Sonde/probe’ from ‘Probe/test or assay’. Another is to document different meanings in different contexts, which this glossary does well - for example, ‘ätzen’ is glossed here as ‘to cauterize’ in a medical context, ‘to etch’ in a metallurgical/technical context, and ‘to eat into, to corrode’ in a chemical context. More of these contextual nuances would be welcome, but the current coverage is quite good. Often, both the English loanword into German as well as the traditional German version are referenced, e.g. ‘herbicide’ is glossed as both ‘Herbizid’ and as ‘Unkrautvernichtungsmittel’.

A strength of this author’s format is the collection of thematically related terms under a main keyword or root word, in addition to their alphabetic listings. Thus, the types of chromatography, the types of condensers, the types of reactors, the types of glass, etc., are all gathered together for comparison. This greatly facilitates the inevitable guesswork where an exact term cannot be pinned down at first.

Any work of this type will have limitations, in order to balance the enormous lexical content of these technical fields against a workable size (and cost) of the book; the limitations present in this resource should be acceptable to most readers. The emphasis is on American English, and the corresponding British alternates are glossed only occasionally. The coverage of polymers, even as they relate to the stated technical scope (e.g. Merrifield resin), is sparse. Likewise, the treatment of molecular structure and computational modeling terms (e.g., ‘solvent accessible surface’) is also limited. One improvement that would not be too cumbersome would be to include an index of the common abbreviations used for the contained terms. Although there will always be some favorites missing, it would be gratifying if a future edition were to include such terms as ‘brine’, ‘fish’ (the insoluble bits inadvertently entering a reaction mixture and adding significant weight to a microscale reaction or crystallization after filtration of the solid product), or ‘heat kick’.

However, some of the limitations are really strengths. Of those covered, the medical field is given shorter shrift, which is realistic given the existence of numerous other glossaries that focus exclusively on this area, and with which it makes no sense to compete. Thankfully, this work does not try to be a chemical name index, although many generic and nonsystematic names are covered (e.g., ‘Gelbbrensäure’, ‘Epsom salts’). Many terms that are virtually or exactly identical in the two languages are not included, such as ‘Tetrahydrofuran/tetrahydrofuran’. These exclusions are well-advised as a way to conserve space.

In summary, the author has prepared an valuable resource that fills an important need for researchers, technicians, and even for technical translators. The excellent content and coverage, together with the reasonable price, make it strongly recommended to anyone whose work and research collaborations must bridge the German-English language barrier, and for every research group where cross-lingual communication is an everyday event.