Cross-referencing "crosstabs"

How do you find precise translations for technical terminology? One of the convenient things about dealing with a mainstream language like Mandarin is that pretty much every English technical or trade term in every subject you could imagine has a Mandarin equivalent.

The devil is in finding it. Bilingual dictionaries are good for mainstream stuff, but they don’t tend to include the lingo that’s an inevitable part of any profession.

Most recently this popped up for me when I wanted to ask a market research partner of mine for “crosstabs”, a kind of preliminary gross analysis that’s commonly used in quantitative studies. So how to ask for crosstabs without knowing the term? Well, I could try to explain it, but not knowing whether generating crosstabs is even common practice in China, I wasn’t sure it was worth the trouble to offer a botched Zhonglish explanation. I could offer a word-by-word translation and hope that works, some combination of “cross” plus “tabulation”, that has all the promise of translating 一次性 as “a time sex thing” rather than “single use.”

No, what we really need is a term here.

After coming up empty in the ABC dictionary on Pleco and in the Chinese Wikipedia, I was pleased to stumble across* a site that was new to me, It offers convincing terms for both “crosstab” and “crosstab table”. Even though I’m still not sure if 交叉数据分析表 is the term in vogue, it worked for me and my market researcher, so that gives some measure of authority.

Anyone else use enough to offer a second opinion? More generally, is there any better way to go about digging up technical terminology short of reading through a book on the subject?


*I’m not exactly sure how I found anymore. Sorry, because I think that’s a critical part of the story about sleuthing for technical terminology: how do you start your search? Trying to re-create it today, it looks like I might have googled “crosstabs 中文”. I remember going through some of the items on the first results page, but I see that the site doesn’t show up until the second page. Like most people, I don’t usually go to the second page of search results, but maybe I did yesterday? Anybody else have a good generic set of search terms that they use?

9 responses to “Cross-referencing "crosstabs"”

  1. 1. google dictionary. 3 sections, all worth looking at

    2. Kingsoft. Don’t forget, their translations from English to Chinese are often actually usable if you know what you’re doing.

    Too much to say about this.

  2. jdmartinsen says:

    For technical stuff, I’ve found that a straight Baidu search for the English language term alone tends to return decent results — among the results that embed the English term in a Chinese context, there will usually be a page that pairs the Chinese and English renderings. If I’m especially lucky, I’ll pull up a ready-made bilingual glossary.

    Usually I’m familiar with the ideas involved. For the term above, my search comes up with “交叉报表”, which has its own Baike entry. Still, without knowing what a crosstab is, I’d be hesitant to use that translation.

  3. Syz says:

    @jdm: Baidu is a great trick. I have to admit I rarely use it, so that’s part of the problem. I did a search just now and voila! — in not too many entries I came up with 交叉分析 on a blog that seems to know what it’s doing. That’s the same term my market research guy just used in his email to me, so that’s probably right (I looked at the 交叉报表 but that looks like a pivot table if I’m understanding right). Anyway, thanks, this will help!

  4. Hi there,

    I don’t know if you’ve come across this before, but Iciba tends to be pretty good at what you’re looking for. It includes this “来自互联网的结果” function which automatically searches the Chinese web for the English word (much in the same way as does Baidu it would seem?) Turns up with 交叉分析 or 表 with “crosstabs”.

    I have had to translate into Chinese pretty obscure techwords recently, and this website helped me a lot.

  5. Zev Handel says:

    I like to do a search for the English word I want translated and a Chinese term I know that is used within the same general area of knowledge, or that is a term for the category that the word I’m looking for is in. That kind of search is likely to turn up a page of English-Chinese equivalents. I’ve found that this is usually better than using 中文 or 英文 as part of my search terms.

    For example, if I want to know how to say “credit-default swap” in Chinese, I might start with the Google search ” “credit-default swap” 贷款 ” . For dàikuǎn you could substitute almost any term in banking or finance, or even the Chinese words for “banking” or “finance”. Sure enough, on the first page of my results are web pages like this one from the Chinese government: . Hey, “Fannie Mae” and “Freddie Mac” are on there!

    Sometimes it takes a few tries to fine-tune the search, but this approach has been very successful for me.

  6. Kellen says:

    I tend to go with Zev’s method if I don’t find it in any of my dictionaries. Though for the sort of things I need to translate, does well.

    The other way, though I use it less often, is on baidu to search for “whatever 英文 怎么说” without quotes. the ‘whatever’ is inevitably in the answer.

  7. ze says:

    In addition to the above mentioned, I occasionally also use a little tool that I believe Syz introduced a while ago on BJSounds:

    Simply insert the target item at the end and you will get a list of terms containing the item (see below). It’s perhaps less useful at targeting specific terms, but often quite useful at supplying lists of terms in a related field. I often use it for linguistics terminology.


    This is a simple search of a database extracted from the interwiki links of Chinese Wikipedia.
    关系语义 Kripke semantics
    博弈语义 Game semantics
    反义词 Opposite (semantics)
    外延 Extension (semantics)
    形式语义学 Formal semantics of programming languages
    指称语义 Denotational semantics
    演员模型的指称语义 Denotational semantics of the Actor model
    真值语义 Truth-value semantics
    语义学 Semantics
    逻辑的语义 Formal semantics

  8. shan says:

    I had similar issues when I recently wrote a report (in English) that I then had to prove a Chinese summary for. What consistently worked for me was to google the word in English plus 翻译 (translate). The returned results were usually Chinese netizens’ forum posts asking for help on translating the English word, with plenty of responses and suggestions from other netizens.

  9. Carl says:

    There’s always the Wiki way: look it up in Wikipedia English then see if there’s a link to a Chinese version of the same article.

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