Translation and definition syntax

A lexical item can have many possible translations (or definitions if working with a monolingual dictionary).  Of these translations, differences between them can be major or minor. Translations with major differences between them are not synonyms, but instead have distinct meanings. Such translations are to be separated using a semicolon.  On the other hand, translations with minor differences are synonymous or nearly so.  These are separated with a comma.1 As an example, let's take a look at the Spanish noun perjuicio.  Its full translation in a Spanish/English lexicon may look like this:

            damage, harm; financial loss

Notice that there are two major translations here.  Damage and harm make up one while financial loss is the other.  The words damage and harm are synonyms, which is why they belong together, separated just by a comma.  Financial loss has a distinct meaning all its own so it's separated from the others by a semicolon.  Depending on the context, perjuicio can have either meaning. 

Identifying an item's major translations is an essential step in mastering its usage.  Moreover, when creating a translation2 or multiple-choice test you have the option of using all translations or individual (major) translations to construct test questions.  This makes major translations vitally important.  On the other hand, adding minor translations is almost entirely a matter of individual preference.  The only time the program will parse out minor translations is when the native language view is selected.  In this case, all minor translations are extracted and shown in the lexical item list.  Sometimes, by providing more minor translations you can locate a lexical item more quickly when using this view.  Still, it's your choice whether to add them.

Major translations can also contain comments and regions.  Comments are enclosed by parentheses and regions are enclosed by curly brackets.  You can attach regions to a major translation by typing the region abbreviation within brackets, but usually it's easier to use the Region dialog.


1  In monolingual dictionaries the definition syntax is the same except that definition entries replace major translations and minor definitions replace minor translations.
2  In monolingual dictionaries the translation test is replaced with the definition test.