Multi-Language Ammunition Terminology List

IMPORTANT NOTE: I think each ammo collector should know or at least have a list showing the basic words about ammunition in most of the languages. Considering that people from many countries are active on this forum [or IAA members], the list can be made very easy. Some basic ammo terms should be put together in English and with the help of many of us these terms can be translated into many languages. That list should be printed in the IAA Journal too. Having the list of the basic ammo terms in many languages [English, German, French, Czech, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Albanian, Romanian, Portuguese, Swedish, Norvegian, Finnish, etc] would be a great help for the ammo collectors to identify the origin of many labels and their content. I can help with any term [word] in Romanian. Is this a good idea or not??? Liviu 05/18/08

Regarding the suggested project, I began that project about 6 months ago, and it is now in Scandinavia being worked on. It will probably take another year or more to complete at least, due to the number of places it must go to get a sensible amont of languages. When it is finished, it will be presented to the IAA for publication. I do not know yet how many languages will appear on it, but hopefully English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Czech, Slovak, Portuguese, Romanian, Greek, Russian, Finnish, Afrikaans, and maybe others. It all depends on finding fluent speakers of all those languages who also know ammunition terms.

The original list is one that I did in English/Spanish. I do not know if all of the English words we hope to encompass will be translated into all of the foreign languages. That will be up to those entrusted with the task from each language.

Asian languages that use characters are a problem in reproduction on such a list, and will not be on the list that I make up. Only those using the Latin or Cyrillic alphabets will appear. Not only is it difficult to find every character on a computer, but the simple task of spelling out so many words in those characters would be beyond the abilities of anyone I know, including me (mostly me!). Even if I could find the characters and knew from the background work that they were right, I could not take the time to put them on the list.

Liviu, I already had you pegged to do the Romanian. J-P, if you want to do the French it is fine. PM me and I will send you the basic list. Anyone is free to add terms to the list if they know the English as well as the language they are supplying.

I hope this project doesn’t die along the way. I wish I could get someone to do Bulgarian and the languages of the former Yugoslavia, but I don’t know anyone fluent in those that has the time or the will to do this project.

Each individual language should not take the contributor much time to do. I cannot speak for the work that must be done here to compile it and put it into format. But, that will be figured out. It is not necessary that a computer ignoramus like myself does the final list. I only will demand to see everything so, since I began the project, that I can exercise some control over completeness of content.

As I say, the list is already in Scandinavia with representatives of SARA. I was hoping to get that back before sending it along, so any additions would already be there, and each successive “translator” would only have to add basic terms that he thought of that were still missing. However, it may be better to send the list separately out to many people at once, to hurry it along. If we have any volunteers for a specific, easily reproducible language (I will leave Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, etc. to someone else someday) Remember - and this is not meant to insult anyone - you must have a good knowledge of ammunition terms in both English and the language you choose to take on. I say this because of experience in trying to have box labels translated by people without ammunition knowledge. The translations ran from Good to ridiculous to sometimes even hilarious. I am looking for “Official” language, not slang. In some languages, Spanish is one, we run into a little problem because usage is not always uniform throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Again, I am looking for preferred and official terminology. More than one word is fine, by the way - for example in English/Spanish - “Bullet: Proyectil, bala” If there is one word or five words that are commonly and officially used, I am fine with that.

If someone fluent in Spanish and someone fluent in Portuguese would like the lists, I am happy to send them. I have one in each that I did, but while it has been looked over by people more atune to those languages than am I, it would not hurt at all to review them for errors and the omission of words that should be on the list and are not.

Don’t look for it tomorrow. I meant it when I said that this project could take another year to complete, as simple as it sounds. I think that SARA is trying to take care of a number of European languages for me, not just Scandinavian. I don’t know if they plain to do Danish, Norwegian and Swedish as separate languages. They are not identical languages, liike some Americans think, in spelling etc. That will be up to them.

I have friends here that are reasonably fluent in lots of different languages, but none know anything about ammunition, and as you know, the results can be pretty funny sometimes, since some words have more than one meaning, and translate differently into other languages depending on context.

John, if you don’t have someone working on the German portion, I’d love to help. I’m hardly fluent - yet - but it would be great practice. I just finished my second semester of it, and am starting intermediate in the fall semester. (Then French after that…man, I’m gonna be so confused after all that!)

Dan - I think that SARA is working on the German as well as the Scandinavian, but I am going to scan my initial list I made some years ago, the list that i sent to SARA, and I will send you a copy. It is alphabetical by the Spanish word, since it was part of an article on Argentine Pistol ammunition, and was designed for an English speaker to use to find the meaning of Spanish ammunition terms he encountered.

I could do about half of the list in German, but soem of the terms I would probably have to look at a dictionary, which sometimes, as I have siad before, can give results that range from o.k. to dow-right hilarious when viewed by someone fluent in the language and expert with ammunition terms.I could relate to you a babbelfish translation of “bulletproof vest” from a foreign language sometime, but won’t put it here as some would consider the English result to be obscene.

If the scans don’t work out - to much to send in a message - I will mail you a copy.

I will make the Hungarian part


Let me know if you want any Hebrew included.

Straky - You must be psychic - a mind-reader. I was just about to PM you and ask if you would. I have not yet scanned the original list. I hope you will not have trouble with it. It is actually first a list of Spanish terms alphabetically arranged by that language’s spelling, and then interpreted into English. That was done for an article I intended to publish so that an English speaker could look up a Spanish ammunition term he didn’t understand.

I have not been feeling well for a couple of days, and my wife is away, so I am not working on the computer very long at a time. She could do the scans if she was home. It will probably be tomorrow. Then I will send them to the people who have asked.

Jon - I have some trepidation about getting into Hebrew, as it poses the real problem, when I do the final list, of character reproduction, especially since, as you may recall from some correspondence years ago, I cannnot discern any difference in several Hebrew Characters, yet I know, and you tried to show me, that they are different. I am afraid it would turn into a disaster. I am even having second thoughts about Cyrillic, just for the time it takes to reproduce each word on the computer in a Word document. this will be a large task to begin with, and I am trying to keep it as “doable” as I can. Even languages with lots of accent marks on the letters will be corrupted in their absence, because I cannot reproduce every one fromtthe programs I have, and all of them take extra time to do, so all such marks will be left out, and the German umlaut letters will become computer-spelled "ae, oe, ue, etc.).

Still, I recognize that there are a lot of IMI boxes and pictures floating around with Hebrew language on them. I will cross the bridge when I come to it, and then if I decide to do it, you most certainly will be called upon.

I will do Wisconsin-ese (yah der hey)

John–You keep shying away from all the non-latin alphabets because you can not reproduce them on your computer. Actually, as I see it, this in not a problem. If the person submitting the list to you can supply it in the proper characters, all you need to do is cut-and-paste from their document to yours.

Here is a useful site Not only it allows Russian, Ukranian and Belorussian, it also translates most of European languages into each other, languages like Latvian, Estonian, Turkish. This section is right below site’s writing window (where you write stuff you want to translate).

WEBMASTER COMMENT: While the geek magic involved is a bit above my skill level, I think the “list” can be easily posted on the IAA site in any of several formats.

a. Someone make up a paper copy of “the list” and it can be converted to a .pdf file (same as the IAA Journal archive copies) and when someone clicks on a like with a name (Ammo terms in various languages?) then the document opens up on their computer screen in a .pdf window. The paper master can be a nice clean printed out copy, or one made with the old fashioned scissors and paste/tape process

b. Another option might be to make it a .html page with something like a table or spread sheet. Rows down the page with ammo terms in the first column in [U.S.] English; second column UK English, and additional columns for other languages. If this format is used, then there is no need to wait for the project to be completed before posting it. It can be added to at any time with minimal effort.

c. Most foreign language fonts are available and should be able to be used in plan b above.

Great idea! Waiting for the “complete list” is a futile effort as there will always be someone with just one more language dialect to add. Grab the list when it reached 5 languages and post it, and revise it later. At least that is my recommendation.

Hi John S.,

I would be willing to lend a hand on the web page. An HTML table like your example b) would be straightforward. With a little more work, we could add a form so that people could pick what languages appear in the table, and maybe even set it up so they could sort the list in any of the available languages (by clicking on the column headings, for example).

Gentlemen - let’s not get too ahead of things. One of the reasons I had not mentioned this project until it was brought up on the Forum and to avoid a lot of duplication, I needed to, was I didn’t want to be pressured too much on this project. I think it is an important one, and will do it as quickly as I can. I will send out some basic lists today, after I scan them.

Now, about all these languages, Perhaps we will do things like Hebrew and Cyrillic. If anyone wants to do Asian languages, they will have to do it on their own and post them on their own. I will not get involved in that part. It simply is too daunting for the time I can give this.

Regarding some languages mention, like Estonian, Lithuanian, etc., let’s keep this list practical. How many Estonian cartridge box labels have you seen lately? The whole idea of this list is to allow people to translate some key ammunition terms. It will not teach you to read a language. The best application, as I see it, will be its use in translating cartridge box labels, items on instructional charts and factory cartridge drawings, and perhaps the occasional simple photo caption in books. I do not see a need to have the list in every language known to man. It should be in the languages that are commonly encountered on the items mentioned above, and thought must be given to actual usage, as well. What I mean by that is while a certain language may be the one most commonly spoken in a country, one must ask what the official language is. I’ll give a couple of examples that go to two points - I have a Cambodian military 9mm Box in my collection. Firstly, it is in French; secondly, it is the only known Cambodian box label in a collection. Do we need to have the Cambodian spoken language on our chart? I have a Nepalese 9mm box in my collection - I don’t know if it is the only one, but it is the only one I have seen in my life. It is in English.
So much for Nepalese. Most current Thai boxes, of which I have ten or more in my collection are in English, although I admit Thai shows up on headstamps and I guess some old box labels. But, would we really need to have every term in Thai? I think not. About 95% of the wall charts I have seen are in English, Russian, or some other Western or Middle European language. The same for factory cartridge drawings.

The truth is, and this is not to denigrate any country or their language, is that the industrialized Western countries have far and away produced the most written material on ammunition - I include in here Israel, although most of their material other than boxes for Israeli military use, is in English. I also include Republic of South Africa, although again, all of the boxes I have seen have been in English as well as Afrikaans.
Also, because of a lot of factors, access to that material is primarily to that from the Industrialized nations with democratic governments. This includes the countries of the former USSR, including Russia, who are now much more open in the publication of information on Arms and ammunition. I remember when few or perhaps none of us knew where hardly any single item of military equipment produced during the era of the USSR was made, other than “in the USSR.” So, those factors play a role in the usefulness of including various languages, or not.

I will work as much as I can to put together something, with the help of a lot of great people who have already volunteered, according to my original concept. I will give it to IAA when it is well along (as John S. suggested) but not necessarily complete, and from then on, IAA working members will own the project. I will pass on other languages as I receive them, but it will be up to IAA to do the work on getting it on the web, and to add languages that they think are germaine, but that I did not. That is the best I can do.

UPDATE: The list will soon be in French, Italian, and German, and maybe Russian if EOD wants to tackle that as well. English, Spanish, and a shorter list in Portuguese are already done. I did those three several years ago. It is already done by Straky in Hungarian. He was very slow getting it done. I sent him the list about five hours ago and it is now reorganized to be alphabetical in English, followed by the Hungarian for each entry, and in my hands.

Incredible! Thanks Straky. Of course, the “very slow” is a joke. Fast like lightning!

I thought people would like to know know that it is truly a work in progress. If any knows someone from Poland who can do it in Polish - remember, they must know all the terms in English - and is willing, get me in contact with them and I will send them the list as well.

Is it too late to suggest that the list also be made available in a spreadsheet (Excel, perhaps), with one column dedicated to each language. This would allow the user to sort it alphabetically on whichever language he was working with.

John, let me know if you need any technical assistance. As you know, I’m an underemployed geek in between semesters, so I would be happy to take the paper version and convert it to some type of digital format, whether a spreadsheet or Access database (Ewww…he said “Access”…the database designer in me shudders…). Or even a tabular format in Word. That way it would be easy to pass on to others, and eventually can be used to spool of an HTML version for the IAA website.

It is not too late to suggest anything at all. However, final format will depend on those who run the Forum and the IAA Journal, if they decide they want to print the finished product. It is not up to a computer idiot like me.

My intention is to wait for another few languages and then send the whole thing down to Cyberwombat, who I hope will get in touch with John S. for discussions of how he should handle it. Cyberwombat is good with computers and anxious to help. He is a great guy who will follow thru, and has forgotten more about formatting stuff than I could learn in the rest of my life.

Sending me the languages first only allows me to insure that the results are as complete as we can make them, and that there is consistencie between the languages (what words are translated). I started the project with the hope, now fully realized, that I could get not just help with languages - dictionaries won’t do the job so without that help, the list would be in English, Italian, Portuguese, German with some mistakes predicted, and English, and no other language - but far more important help into putting it into usable form.

Now, something I forgot. My initial Spanish-English list was to be part of a greater article on Argentine pistol ammunition, as I said. While I did not ignore terminology beyond pistol, it is entirely devoted to small arms ammunition. Words like Fuse, Fuze, detonator, bore-safe, centrifically fuzed, etc., are not on the list. Do we want to keep it at small arms, or does someone into bigger stuff want to send me an English list of artillery terms? Before that list is sent, contact with me would provide him with my initial list so that unnecessary work in duplication can be avoided.

Cyberwombat - the beginning list will be on its way to you in about 15 minutes, in two emails.

Chip Orr and Cyberwombat- I thank you both for your offers to help and you are BOTH hired. Collaboration is encouraged if you like, or you can work independently and we can pick a winner (or combine best features from each) later.

Perhaps a useful division of labor would be for one of you to concentrate on getting the framework set up, and ability to sort a table by language column alphabetically is very appealing. Other major aspect will be ensuring that we have correct fonts/characters available for final version.

I have sent an email to Chip with some further info and will forward to Cyberwombat as well.

Let’s wait for John Moss to provide the language “stuff” in detail, but I will forward a couple of pages of preliminary info just to play with if you like.

Remember, the IAA Board may want a say in what gets posted where and when with prioirty to Journal, and perhaps limited access as an IAA membership benefit. We will provide a product that is user friendly and they can figure out what to do with it.

Figure many months for final completion, but an interim partial version may be made available for testing and user comments earlier than that.


Heh…I’ll leave the complicated HTML stuff to Chip. I can mangle my way thru a web page, but anything more complicated than straight text makes my brain hurt. Visual Studio is one of the reasons I got OUT of programming…