RealTime IT News

Microsoft Teams With Publishers To Create World's First Global Dictionary

Microsoft Corp. is working with St. Martin's Press, Bloomsbury Publishing and Pan Macmillan Australia to publish an English dictionary derived from a single database of world English.

The Encarta World English Dictionary is scheduled to be published simultaneously in electronic and print forms, in British and American editions, in August 1999.

"This will be the dictionary of tomorrow," said Robbie Bach, VP of the learning, entertainment and productivity division, Microsoft. "We are committed to applying technology to build projects that enhance and improve people's ability to learn and communicate.

"As recently as five years ago, a project of this sort could not have been completed digitally on a worldwide scale. We are delighted to be working with Bloomsbury, St. Martin's and our other co-publishers on this exciting long-term project."

Microsoft and its partners in the venture said that the new dictionary is just the beginning of a long-term relationship, and that the companies will go on to develop other print and electronic reference works.

Two hundred and fifty lexicographers and expert advisers in ten countries have been working to create the Encarta World English Dictionary. It has over three million words of text and, according to the publishers, "reflects the use of English as the language of the world, the language in which most of the people of the world communicate and in which over 80 percent of the world's computer-based communication takes place."

Commercial success for the project seems virtually assured, with a planned print run of 500,000 copies and the benefit of Microsoft's branding. It will the first time that Microsoft has used the Encarta name on a print product, having licensed more than twenty million copies of the Encarta Encyclopedia on CD-ROM worldwide since 1993.

"The project is a major development for Bloomsbury and underpins the strategic growth of our reference division into an international content provider for print and electronic media," said Nigel Newton, chairman and CEO of Bloomsbury.

Among the supporting statistics issued by Microsoft is the information that 375 million people speak English as their first language, a further 375 million people speak it as their second language, and by the year 2000 over one billion people will be learning English.