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A Contextualized Dictionary to Problematize Otherness

Брой 54 / Май 2023 г.
Медии и обществени комуникации

Д-р Радея Гешева



 Problematization of otherness through a brand-new dictionary with innovative approach


Chief Assist. Prof. Radeya Gesheva, PhD
The problematization of the term otherness, or in other words, of being different, feeling different, no matter whether in appearance, character, or in another way is a key-concept in today’s world. This notion can be interpreted as a site for exploration. An innovation from this point of view is the idea to collect the main keywords, connected with otherness and to incorporate them in a dictionary. In Other Words. A Contextualized Dictionary to Problematize Otherness is a resource, answering the necessities of the international research field regarding linguistics, rhetorics, education, pedagogy, history, literature, media and cultural studies. It provides both researchers and common people working in other environments with a computerized version with interactive possibilities to explore the other/ness. A part of the eAccessibility, easily accessible in 3 clicks: www.iowdictionary.org.
The idea

The idea of presenting this important notion was born in 2019 during an ESTIDIA (European Society for Transcultural and Interdisciplinary Dialogue) conference. Then the international team gathered and decided how to organize the content. The very meaning of otherness can be found within the group of well-recognized professors and researchers. It includes the honorary editor Cornelia Ilie (Sweden) and the editorial board: Paola Giorgis (Italy), Ivanka Mavrodieva (Bulgaria), Victoria Odeniyi (Great Britain), Olena Semenets (Ukraine), Bilyana Todorova (Bulgaria), Andrea C. Valente (Brazil/Canada), Ioanna Vovou (Greece). This wide variety of experts together with the wealth of content are a guarantee for a useful and helpful tool.


The editor

The dictionary is online and therefore includes an easy-to-use interface. This makes it rather accessible and user-friendly: one of the main features in nowadays world regarding the success of an edition. The Ornimi Editor is famous for its interest in prestigious publications. As the natural progression of the recognized publishing house PERUGIA, founded in 1989, it appreciated the dictionary as a modern tool to raise awareness about otherness in different social, economical, cultural, political contexts. The broader understanding of otherness, made this editor support the brilliant idea, containing renewal of the existing concepts and hence gave this dictionary a comparative advantage in terms of further research and use of otherness.

Common structure and consistency

An extremely powerful instrument of the dictionary In Other Words. A Contextualized Dictionary to Problematize Otherness is its smart structure. To begin with an abstract in different languages, depending on the author who proposed the term’s insertion, followed by a definition and explanation, etymology, problematization, communication strategies and one of the main differences from other dictionaries of the sort: subversion. The latter is related to the attempt to change the belief or the point of view, providing local or global examples, photos, videos, opening the floor for discussion – by asking questions. Each dictionary term is presented following the academic standards for quotation, references and in this case – mentioning useful further readings for those who would like to deepen other aspects or go right to the heart of the matter. The tabs are for Project, Keywords, there is even one very current – COVID-19 with a mini glossary of keywords born during the pandemic and their translation in all the editorial board’s languages.

SMART solution

This dictionary can be defined through the acronym SMART as:

Synthesis of the knowledge regarding key concepts for otherness.
Machine-Accessible, a feature which makes it undiscriminating, hence easy-to-use-by-all.
Analysis, making the big questions with no answers, stimulating critical thinking.
Reversal which overturns the ideas, considering both local and global perspectives.
Tool for different types of open-minded audience, willing to acquire knowledge.

One of the main points of this dictionary is its intercultural openness. It contains different cultural aspects regarding an enormous variety of contexts of use. Even neologisms, part of the so-called new language and new politics of talking, are considered. For instance, the residual load and selective disembarkation which are born in the Italian context in the journalistic language, bureaucratical keywords, regarding immigrants, defined as rather rude, offensive and unacceptable, although used by politicians and journalists.

Current issues and keywords

Thanks to the way the keywords are presented, in different contexts, the mechanisms to discriminate and offend can be questioned, criticised or understood. This is part of the civic rhetoric, a keyword presented by the prominent Bulgarian lecturer on rhetoric and author of more than 120 articles Assoc. Prof. Ivanka Mavrodieva, PhD. In this section we see the explanation of the will to manifest, protest and therefore – to effectively use speech, trying to criticise and to persuade. Another good example, one of the 2500 keywords, provided by the dictionary, is published thanks to the contribution of thedistinguishedPhD in Anthropology of Education and Intercultural Education Paola Giorgis – ageism. It discusses one of the main issues in all human eras – age, aging and of course – ageism, with a focus on class, gender, race and their interrelation with society and individuals, its members. Providing some amusing examples in order to destroy the stereotype of ‘all lace and cup-of-tea’ old woman, it challenges, subverts, empowers.

The formula for success

No doubt the idea to create this tool, an easily accessible and content-rich dictionary, was brilliant. Using computer technology is also a contribution, thanks to the web developer Alex Steiner and the web designer Paolo Cagliero. The international team containing a strong, well-prepared, qualified group of experts, coming from different countries, exploring opportunities in a SMART way, is one of the ingredients of the dictionary’s success. The other one is the consciousness that the dictionary itself should not be accepted as a product. Dictionaries are mirrors of society, as one of the members of the editorial board Paola Giorgis says. To this statement can be added only one thing: creating a dictionary is a work in progress, a proof of open-mindedness as you work on an international scale with the idea that everybody (alias the other) is different from you. This intention of otherness is well-implemented by all the dictionary’s authors as they are born and bred in different social, economical, cultural contexts and for this reason they are the highest expression of otherness.

*Giorgis, P. & Ilie, C. et al. (2022). In OtherWords.A Contextualized Dictionary to  Problematize Otherness.  Available from: https://www.iowdictionary.org/

Цитат формат (Suggested Bibliographic Citation):


Gesheva, Radeya.  In Other Words. A Contextualized Dictionary to Problematize Otherness: a leading tool in understanding the difference. Изд. УНСС; Алма комуникация. 2023, №. ISSN 1313-9908. Available from: [http://www.media-journal.info/?p=item&aid=461] .
дата на публикуване: 06.06.2023, Вторник, 21:29
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