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Development of International Computer Dictionaries for ABBYY

Anna Zhavoronkova
"ATAPY attained 99.992% text accuracy in the German-Russian Dictionary (1 mistake per 8 760 symbols), and 99.997% quality for the Spanish-Russian Dictionary project (1 mistake per 31 500 symbols). They also corrected many mistakes in the source dictionary text, including typographical misprints and even mistakes in special marks that are almost impossible to detect without special programming tools and a profound knowledge of linguistics."
Anna Zhavoronkova
Project Manager,
ABBYY Software House

Electronic dictionaries and translation systems are an area of great practical importance in the ever-globalizing world. ABBYY Software House, the world leader in OCR/ICR and linguistic technologies, develops and sells Lingvo electronic dictionaries. For many years Lingvo has been known as the best English-Russian dictionary on the market. Version 8.0 supported 3 more languages. For the next version, it was decided to use the world’s latest best-of-breed dictionaries that represent the modern state of supported languages.

ABBYY Lingvo boxABBYY turned to ATAPY Software, its outsourcing partner in Novosibirsk, for digitization of two dictionaries from the list selected by the Linguistics Department. The 3-volume 1,750-page Leping German-Russian Dictionary and the 830-page Narumov Spanish-Russian Dictionary were to be recognized and proofread for automatic conversion to the Lingvo database.

The highest possible text recognition accuracy was obviously a requirement. A single mistake could break the words alphabetical order and tear the word away from its paradigm. If the number of mistakes went beyond a very modest threshold, the dictionary would be unsearchable. Proper interpretation of special dictionary marks was equally important for the project. They were used as field delimiters in the automatic database conversion process and had achieve 100% recognition. Special marks appeared either as text characteristics (bold/italics), as special symbols (brackets, asterisks), or as a combination of the two (e.g., italics brackets indicated a dictionary comment). Omitting a single bracket or missing italics would break the article’s structure. That is why the project required both intelligent programming and a highly qualified manual effort — a true challenge for any contractor in the media service sphere.

The dictionaries were scanned and automatically recognized with an ABBYY FineReader OCR that was specially tuned for processing this material. Then a team of qualified operators proofread and cross-checked the results using the double verification technique to ensure recognition accuracy. Double verification detected unexpected situations, such as typos in the source dictionary text, that were corrected according to the customer’s guidelines. In its effort to maximize automation of the proofreading work, ATAPY developed and customized a number of in-house utilities such as Glyphica, a tool for quick input of characters that are not found on the keyboard. For Leping’s Dictionary, ATAPY developed a custom converter with built-in spell- and punctuation-checking utilities that weeded out mistakes unnoticed in previous stages and finally converted the material into the Lingvo vocabulary database.

About ABBYY Software House:

ABBYY Software House is based in Moscow, Russia. The company was founded in 1989 by David Yang. ABBYY has over 600 employees, with offices in Russia (Moscow), the USA (Fremont, CA), Ukraine (Kiev), the UK (Bracknell), Germany (Munich) and Japan (Tokyo). ABBYY has developed software in the fields of artificial intelligence, document recognition and applied linguistics. ABBYY is most notable for their optical character recognition software, FineReader.