Among the scores of posts published on translation blogs every day, very few manage to reach out and grab my full attention as much as Kevin Fernandez’s on The Open Mic. Provocatively entitled Why I Don’t Use Bilingual Dictionaries and Why You Shouldn’t Either, I knew I wasn’t going to agree with the content before I even started reading it. And although he softens the initial impact of his title by assuring us that he isn’t actually advocating that “we should never use them”, the beast had already been unleashed, sending everyone scurrying off to defend their respective corners.
I can appreciate that excessive use of a bilingual dictionary as a prop without exploring whether its suggestions are appropriate for the context in question is not helpful. This is especially true if you are a language student trying to get to grips with the intricacies of a language. But giving impressionable young professional translators the idea that it is wrong to even use a bilingual dictionary for their work is counterproductive.