The project consists in the book publication of the data collected on the CRCAO website called: Dictionary of traditional agriculture: French-English-Chinese-Japanese. It involves formatting the Dictionary’s data currently available online (under the Title: Techniques of traditional agriculture: a French-English-Chinese-Japanese Glossary Preliminary Version 2013) at This requires editing each entry, in each of the four languages, to better bring out the specificities both of the words and their interrelationship. This will partly be carried out through automatic correction (namely for spelling), but also involves significant editing, because the Dictionary contains hundreds of explanatory sentences. The Japanese notions in particular have to be edited by a Japanese researcher who will be engaged in due course. Editing this work will involve the same expertise as for any other scientific work.

Book content

It contains 1060 entries in four languages concerning traditional (non-industrial) agriculture. The entries are organised according to thematic chapters and in alphabetical order: Cereals, Plant Morphology, Ploughing, Seeding, Field Systems, Fertilisation, Water Management, Harvesting, Threshing-Hulling. The Dictionary proposes to focus on environmental ecology and the preservation of cultural and traditional agronomic heritage.

How to use the Dictionary

All alphabetical linguistic dictionaries offer a conventional keyword search. But how many people will look up words like mulch, maize, or ryegrass? One has to become an expert before even using the Dictionary. By contrast, the organisation of the Dictionary by theme is unique: whoever wants to learn about ploughing or rice cultivation techniques will find what they are looking for! A curator wanting to identify an agricultural tool to draft the label for the object’s display or the entry for his catalogue will find his answer! If the curator has no training in agronomy, he will read the chapters on Ploughing or Harvesting. One does not have to be a specialist to use the Dictionary, but it is a tool that allows you to become a specialist! A French Researcher invited abroad will have the English, Japanese or Chinese vocabulary at hand.

General context

In light of the challenges posed by climate change, economic globalisation, and the loss of traditional agriculture, agronomic research deserves to be considered as an aspect of world heritage. Let us remember that 40% of the active population worldwide is involved in agricultural activities (in 2007); agronomy is far from being an unusual discipline. Since the 2000s, the creation of faculties dedicated to agronomy have increased significantly in Europe and elsewhere, with a view to tackling the future challenges of food security. Through the publication of this book, our project would like to contribute to research concerning the preservation of biodiversity and natural resources. Agricultural knowledge will provide the key to this material and non-material heritage as well as for the sustainable management of resources that preserve the productive potential of our earth.

A wide-ranging and versatile tool

The Dictionary can serve multiple purposes, starting with furthering research in agronomy (as a research tool for theses and scientific publications). The Dictionary will also make researchers and PhD candidates more aware of problems relating to terminology and the fundamental importance of precision. In many cases, the words represent technical differences and traditions that are specific to the cultural areas they stem from, including India, South-East Asia, Africa as well as the Americas. In this way the Dictionary will also be an educational tool. Furthermore, it will be useful for the translation of technical publications, the edition of rural heritage museum catalogues and technical museum catalogues, and even for the edition of excavation reports. The Dictionary is thus above all meant to be a technical reference work. Finally, it meets the immediate need for international exchanges, including symposiums. In this sense the Dictionary serves, ultimately, as a communication tool.

Specificities of the Book

It is a scientific dictionary and the result of a long-term collective project carried out from 2009 to 2017. The authors are lecturers, researchers, historians and anthropologists of agriculture. Through a comparative approach, they have put forward linguistic correlations and aimed to create a bridge between the practices of Asian cultural areas and the West. The four languages represented in the Dictionary concern a large part of the current global population. The Dictionary also stands out among numerous online tools. It is the result of the knowledge and the experience of its authors. The book’s bibliography provides clear proof of this.

Why a paper book

The authors wish to make the book’s data available to the international scientific community on a long-term basis. They would like to safeguard the knowledge contained in this book by protecting it from the hazards that affect online tools that may affect its content and, in time, compromise its very existence. A printed book reaches a narrower readership than a website, but the authors are targeting a specialised audience that is constant in the long-term. This is the case of library books. They hope to achieve a broad geographical dissemination, namely in research circles. The authors are proposing to produce a reference work.



CRCAO member

Full members
Guoqiang Li (Université Paris Nanterre)

Outside Participants

Cozette Griffin-Kremer (CRBC-Brest)
Perrine Mane (CRH-CNRS/EHESS)