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Multilingual Demographic Dictionary, second unified edition, English volume


Multilingual Demographic Dictionary, second unified edition, English vol.
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Go to: Introduction to Demopædia | Instructions on use | Downloads
Chapters: Preface | 1. General concepts | 2. The treatment and processing of population statistics | 3. Distribution and classification of the population | 4. Mortality and morbidity | 5. Nuptiality | 6. Fertility | 7. Population growth and replacement | 8. Spatial mobility | 9. Economic and social aspects of demography
Pages: 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 80 | 81 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93
Index: Global Index | Index of chapter 1 | Index of chapter 2 | Index of chapter 3 | Index of chapter 4 | Index of chapter 5 | Index of chapter 6 | Index of chapter 7 | Index of chapter 8 | Index of chapter 9


The Population Commission of the United Nations in its fourth session requested the UN Secretariat to include the preparation of a multilingual demographic dictionary in its work programme. The Union offered to collaborate in this project, and at the end of the fifth session of the Population Commission an ad hoc Committee* was given the task of drafting a multilingual demographic dictionary in English, French and Spanish.

Notwithstanding its great complexity, this work was successfully completed and the French and English volumes were published in 1958. Other versions appeared later: Spanish (1959), Italian (1959), German (1960), Finnish (1964), Russian (1964), Czech (1965), Polish (1966), Swedish (1969), Portuguese (1969), Arabic (1970) and Serbo-Croatian (1971).

At its fifteenth session, held in Geneva in November 1969, the Population Commission of the United Nations adopted a recommendation suggesting that the U.N. Secretary-General should collaborate closely with the Union in carrying out projects of mutual interest, such as the preparation of a multilingual dictionary of demographic terms.

At a previous meeting in Liege in April 1969, the Council of the Union noted with great satisfaction that the dictionary had, in every respect, come up to the expectations of demographers all over the world; the Council felt, however, that the time had come to bring the dictionary up to date, in view of the profound changes which had affected the science of demography during the decade following its publication.

A new Committee** was therefore set up, and thanks to the generous financial aid granted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, work on the project was started in 1972 and completed in 1974.

The Committee's field of action was not limited to its members, since a hundred or so demographic centres responded to its appeal by giving their comments on the drafts submitted to them, In this way, an immense documentation was collected which dealt not only with the definitions of demographic terms and concepts, but also with the arrangement of the book. All this was placed at the disposal of Professor Louis Henry, to whom in 1976 the Union entrusted the task of editing the final version of the second French edition of the demographic multilingual dictionary. Thus the new text prepared by Louis Henry is a synthesis of the one edited by the late regretted Paul Vincent for the first edition of the French version, and the texts prepared by the Committee on International Demographic Terminology.

The Union subsequently requested Professor Etienne van de Walle to adapt and translate the French version of the dictionary into English. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking him warmly for having successfully carried out such a very exacting task.

I also wish to expess my deep gratitude to my predecessor, Professor Massimo Livi Bacci who, during his mandate, was one of the principal promoters of this new series of dictionaries.

This English edition, following on the French one, is thus the second in a collection which will continue to increase as time goes on and provide support to the international community of demographers.

Georges Tapinos Secretary-General

* Multilingual Demographic Dictionary Committee : Chairman : P. Vincent (France), Members: C.E. Dieulefait (Argentina), H.F. Dorn (U.S.A.), E.Grebenik (Great Britain), P. Luzzato-Fegiz (Italy), M. Pascua (Switzerland), J. Ros Jimeno(Spain).

** Committee on International Demographic Terminology: Chairman: P. Paillat (France); Members: A. Boyarski (U.S,S.R.), E. Grebenik (Great Britain), K. Mayer (Switzerland), J. Nadal (Spain), S. Kono (United Nations-Japan); Observers: S. Baum and J. Siegel (U.S. Bureau of the Census — U.S.A.); Research Assistants: A. Hill (Great Britain), A. Lifshitz (France) and A. Saez (Spain).

Notes on the use of the dictionary

The dictionary consists of a text supplemented by notes in small type and an alphabetical index. All terms which are printed in bold face in the text and the notes are listed in the index. Where an expression consisting of several words is printed in bold face it will appear in the index under each of the principal constituent words, e.g., "density of population" is indexed under D as "DENSITY population", and under P as "POPULATION density".

Each term has a reference number which is composed of the number of the paragraph in which it appears and an identification number. For terms appearing in the body of the text the identification number is printed immediately after the term, and for those in the notes it is the number of the note; the latter also relates the note to the corresponding term in the text. Terms occurring in the notes which are not in the text are starred in the index and reference numbers.

Text terms with the same reference numbers in the various sections of the dictionary correspond to one another. For instance, the translator who wishes to find the equivalent French term for a given expression in English should look up the English expression in the alphabetical index of the English section and find the correspondingly numbered paragraph in the French section. It is strongly recommended that the whole paragraph in which the expression occurs in both sections should be read in order to guard against faulty translation due to slight differences in usage; this will also be useful if, in one of the languages, no term exists to express a particular concept.

Different terms which are used to express the same concept have the same reference number. Any term which is susceptible of different interpretations may have two or more reference numbers which refer to the appropriate contexts.


adj. adjective
n. noun
pl. plural
syn. synonym
v. verb.


Although many persons have contributed to various stages of the preparation of this dictionary, Etienne van de Walle would like to acknowledge the assistance of Alex Mogielnicki in translating the French version, and the advice of his colleagues, Ann R.Miller, Samuel H. Preston, Norman Ryder and Christopher Tietze who were kind enough to comment on initial versions of the English text. It owes of course a great deal to the First Edition, and to the preliminary texts prepared by the committee of the Union.

Preface of the unified second edition

The unification of the second edition of the dictionary became necessary when all scanned paper volumes had been computerized. The Demopædia databases showed significant omissions from each of the major releases published during the 1980s (French 1981, English 1982, Spanish in 1985 and German in 1987). In 1988, the Arabic edition and the tri-lingual English-French-Arabic edition, had already partially filled the gaps by comparing the French and English translations, but had failed to translate 92 new concepts introduced into the German edition. The Chinese (1994), Japanese (1994) and Czech (2005) editions are derived from the English version only, as are the Web-only editions in Russian (2008), Portuguese (2008) and Polish (2010). On the other hand, the Italian edition, published on the Web in 2010, is based mainly on the French edition. The following example illustrates the consequences of untranslated terms and the importance of a unified edition: the French term "nourrisson" which was selected for inclusion by the Commission of United Nations terminology in the 1950s, and which appeared in all the first editions of the multilingual dictionary, disappeared in the second English edition. The forthcoming unified dictionary will include the term nourrisson in French, lactante in Spanish, Brustkind in German, kojenec in Czech, lattante in Italian etc. and in English, which has no equivalent common noun, the expression child at the breast, which was used in the first English edition of 1958 and has been reintroduced in the unified English edition, giving rise to new modules derived from English only, to keep this lovely word, even if babies were not so highly cherished before the demographic transition!

This harmonization of the English edition is due to several demographers, Anglophones and Francophones for the most part, like Patrick Heuveline (University of California, Los Angeles), Michel Guillot (University of Pennsylvania and INED), but the final responsibility goes to Stan Becker (University of Johns Hopkins), who made the final decisions. Although this harmonization did not pose any difficulty for the new words introduced by the German edition, it also concerned delicate points whose translation into English and their use in the English demographic literature was not straightforward. We invite readers to watch the discussion pages for each section on the web version of these dictionaries.

As new translations into several Asian languages are now being considered in order to reflect the demographic importance of this continent, it was essential to achieve this unification before going ahead with these new translations. This is still an ongoing process, concerning all previously published languages; the first unified French language edition was published at the 46th Annual Conference of the Italian Statistical Society in June 2012 in Rome. The French edition fills a gap because the last copies of the second edition of 1981 were distributed at the symbolic price of € 1 at the IUSSP conference in Tours (2005). An Italian edition was also very necessary because the first edition was published in 1959 and had never been updated.

Harmonized editions should be available in the twelve languages already published in paper volumes and online in their original edition, as well as in four to six new Asian languages.

It is regrettable that this harmonized edition is not a new edition, which could be expanded with new concepts of contemporary demography, such as reproductive health, disability and dependency, international migration, demographic windows, population decline, retirement etc. But comparison of the first two editions showed clearly that the first edition covers most of the important concepts in the population sciences: the terms it contains were selected carefully by the United Nations Commission on Terminology during the 1950s in order to define our discipline, and are most of them are still valid.

We may also regret that certain obsolete or even inappropriate words have not been removed. Etienne van de Walle, lead author of the second English edition of 1982, told me at the Conference in Tours in 2005, shortly before his premature death, his desire to participate in the new edition, and especially to remove terms on eugenics, a term or theory which already in 1981 had only an historical interest. Thus, we made drastic cuts in sections that concerned eugenics. And eugenics has gone from the status of "discipline" to that of "theory".

Elsewhere, only minimal changes have been made to the original editions, preserving the original spirit of the 1980s.

These changes justify the paper publication of this unified edition. New volume will also be available on paper once unification in the specific language is complete. This unification is a mandatory prerequisite for a third edition.

Digital publishing provides a means to publish paper versions at low cost, even if on demand. Thanks to the work of Joseph Larmarange, a demographer at the French “Institute of Research for Development” (IRD) working at the joint research unit CEPED, it is possible to download from the multilingual demographic dictionary website ( any unified edition in various electronic formats (HTML, PDF or EPUB). It is also possible to order a hard copy from a publishing company on demand. The web site is also a place for generating a “current” version of the dictionary or even multilingual indexes.

While a publication with broad distribution does not seem justified for languages that have already been published in the past, print on demand seems to meet certain needs, especially when available in several languages in the same format. In addition, print on demand includes corrections of the inevitable errors and typographic mistakes.

The multilingual dictionary was born out of work of the Population Commission of the United Nations chaired by Paul Vincent. He himself was partly inspired by the revolutionary indexing system of numbered paragraphs which appeared in the work of John Edwin Holmstrom. He proved in his "Report on Interlingual Scientific and Technical Dictionaries" written in 1949 that unique entries in a dictionary were inadequate when the dictionary included more than two or three languages.

Therefore, authorships are multiple and multilingual too; the full list of names is given in each preface of the two editions which we reproduced before this current generic preface of all unified versions. Authors we must thank include Paul Vincent for the first French edition of 1958, Eugene Grebenik for the first English edition of 1958, Louis Henry for the second French edition of 1981, Etienne van de Walle for the second English edition of 1982 and Guillermo A. Macció for the second Spanish edition. The second German edition was coordinated by Charlotte Höhn in 1987.

This multiple paternity has led us to change the status of the different editions of the multilingual demographic Dictionary under the Creative Commons Share Alike license (CCSA). Since the computerization of the old paper editions, any additions to the dictionary published online require the acceptance of this license. This makes it possible to consider the exact contribution of each author involved. Note also that the MediaWiki software which is used by Demopaedia for both browsing the dictionary and editing, is also under the same open-source license.

Once you know of the functioning of Demopaedia, which is identical to Wikipedia, you can easily compare the text of the first edition with that of the unified edition. The digitized text uses the same paragraph numbering (350, 351, 352 etc ...), each grouped on the same page (eg page 35 http://fr-ii.wikipedia/wiki/35). If the reader wants to know the reasons that led a writer to adopt a particular reformulation, the discussion page lists the problems that have arisen and the decisions that have been taken (eg http://fr-ii.wikipedia/wiki/Talk:35). All members of professional associations of population studies in partnership with the Demopædia project are allowed and encouraged to contribute to the discussion pages. This is already the case for members of the IUSSP and soon for members of the Population Association of America and others. Rights to edit the dictionary itself, i.e., not only the related discussion page, are given to a limited number of authors.

It is also the goal of the project Demopædia to invite professional demographers to update the multilingual demographic Dictionary by providing this wiki platform. But as the first step is to create new pages and even new chapters such as "reproductive health" already mentioned, we believe that it is easier to adopt a more open structure similar to that of Wikipedia, where consistency between languages is not essential. The site of this free encyclopedia is the URL for French and for the English version as well as for Italian and for Thai etc.

The new pages progressively created should allow us to better measure both the extent of our discipline and its new terminology. A third edition of the multilingual dictionary could come someday.

The goal of science is to share results with colleagues around the world but also to fellow countrymen. It is therefore important for the scientific vocabulary to be well translated and understood so that the media as well as students can use it correctly. We also note that in some countries such as Sweden, there is no second edition of the dictionary, giving the impression that the scientific vocabulary doesn’t need to be renewed in Swedish, but in English only. By contrast, a clear need was expressed at the IUSSP Conference in Marrakesh by Asian academics who, under pressure from many local students who do practice English, are struggling with rough translation of English demographic terms (even old terms) to be adopted by the entire community. Today, in India, there are several languages spoken by more than 70 million users, equivalent to the total number of humans whose mother tongue is French. Malayalam is spoken, in Kerala at least, by as many speakers as Thai-speaking Thais. Hopefully this wiki platform is a multilingual opportunity to discuss the understanding of new concepts conveyed in the English scientific journals but also in international conferences still conducted in French or Spanish, and in national conferences in many different languages.

This project could not have been completed without the ongoing support of the Population Division of the United Nations in the person of Hania Zlotnik who was its director from 2005 to 2012. This support took the form of the organization of Demopædia workshops, including Paris (2007) and Marrakesh (2009). Special thanks to Sergey Ivanov (UNPD), co-organizer of two workshops and author of the first draft of the Russian edition. Giudici Cristina and Elena Ambrosetti, authors of the Italian translation which has been published concurrently, have established a partnership between the University La Sapienza and the French Committee of the IUSSP, to organize a workshop on Wiki technology in Rome in 2011. Some material taken from a tutorial by Laurent Toulemon at INED in Paris has been reused, and we are extremely happy with the Franco-Italian collaboration which is driving the development of the Demopædia project, particularly in Chiang Mai at the end of August 2012. The last Chiang Mai workshop, funded by INED, co-organized by Géraldine Duthé (INED) and locally organized by Sophie Le Coeur (IRD/INED), Joseph Larmarange and Elena Ambrosetti provided an opportunity to train 13 senior demographers in the Demopaedia/Wiki technology in order to produce a unified edition in six new Asian languages ​​(Korean, Indonesian, Malaysian, Nepalese, Thai and Vietnamese).

Thanks also to Christine Gandrille, secretary of the French National Committee of the IUSSP, who scanned and corrected many of the issues thanks to her exceptional knowledge of several languages, Françoise Gubry and Martine Deville, librarians at CEPED and INED, respectively, for their perseverance in finding the old dictionaries such as the Arabic or Estonian editions. Their advice on thesaurus and index technology were also very helpful.

Finally, I would like to thank the French National Committee that I had the honor to preside until January 2012 and all members of the three successive bureaus for their help in starting and conducting the Demopædia project since 2005. Websites demand light but continuous support, in our case provided by INED which hosts the server. In 2012, IUSSP created an interest grouping so that the Demopædia project could take an international dimension.

Nicolas Brouard
Director of research at INED
Coordinator of the IUSSP Demopædia project
October 2018

Go to: Introduction to Demopædia | Instructions on use | Downloads
Chapters: Preface | 1. General concepts | 2. The treatment and processing of population statistics | 3. Distribution and classification of the population | 4. Mortality and morbidity | 5. Nuptiality | 6. Fertility | 7. Population growth and replacement | 8. Spatial mobility | 9. Economic and social aspects of demography
Pages: 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 80 | 81 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93
Index: Global Index | Index of chapter 1 | Index of chapter 2 | Index of chapter 3 | Index of chapter 4 | Index of chapter 5 | Index of chapter 6 | Index of chapter 7 | Index of chapter 8 | Index of chapter 9