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Jun 30, 2004 12:15 AM 3187 Views
(Updated Jun 30, 2004 12:18 AM)

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Choosing a good dictionary is as important as clothes you wear, or the books you read. It?s more than a style statement; something closer to a want of increasing your vocabulary, and also believing that dictionary is an indispensable part of reading books.


Almost all of us encounter that occasional word, which doesn?t make any sense, and then consulting a dictionary becomes important.


However most of us tend to overlook this point, and go ahead with just any dictionary which is available nearby. It?s not wrong to do that, but the knowledge of the availability of a good dictionary will be elemental if you are to develop a serious attitude towards the direction of language, vocabulary and pronunciation building practices.


Here I am writing about the concise version of oxford dictionaries.


A good dictionary must have (which this one has):


. Readable font:


Now this is the most important aspect, since we encounter it almost every time we open the dictionary to look for a word, and it would be nice if the font were to be soothing to the eyes.


. Format:


the way in which a word is written, along with all the necessary elements for the words, which namely, in the order of appearance


Word, part of speech, pronunciation, alternate meanings (and the context in which they are used), other forms, origin.


. Coverage:


including all the words is near about impossible for any dictionary, but even then an extensive coverage of the mostly used words is very important so that the words we encounter normally (in reading books, newspapers) should be there. No need for medical or technical jargon.


. Definitions:


should be sharp and crisp, to the point, and also revealing the meaning of the word after all.


From the time I started reading, I have been using dictionaries, of all types. My first was the 8th edition of Oxford concise dictionary, then penguin?s, then again 9th edition, and now the 10th edition.


This 10th edition is given birth by Judy Pearsall, is further improvement to the already established reputation of Oxford in giving out good dictionaries. This time, the improvements have been done in the form of increase of words and other features.


Some of the impressive points about this dictionary are:


#. List of consonants and vowels at the bottom of every page, essential to understand the pronunciation of words, I have found this feature only in oxford dictionaries. On all the pages, the list of consonants on 2 facing pages, and then list of vowels on the next 2 facing pages, alternative have been provided. You won?t have to look back each time to the first page if you don?t get the pronunciation.


#. Way of presentation of words is quite user-friendly, with different font sizes, arrow heads, Bold, and other means provided to differentiate between different aspects of the word.


#. Origin of the word at the last of meaning, which provides useful insight and a way to remember the word. Also helps in understanding other such words for future.


#. Small paragraphs about usage of certain words.


E.g. ?Queer, the word queer was first used to mean ?homosexual? in the early 20th century: it was originally, and usually still is, a deliberately derogatory term when used by heterosexual people. In recent years, however, gay people have taken the word queer and deliberately used it in place of gay or homosexual, in an attempt, by using the word positively, to deprive it of its negative power?


Now I didn?t know THAT.


Apart from the usual stuff, the dictionary has a trove of information at the end pages, in form of short pastime information.


Appendix 1: Countries of the world


Appendix 2: Alphabets, accents, and punctuation marks


Appendix 3: weights and measures


Appendix 4: Groups of animals etc.


Appendix 5: Proofreading marks


Appendix 6: Games and puzzles word builder


Appendix 7: SMS (electronic text messaging)


Appendix 8: Guide to good English.


In particular I found appendices 1, 4, 6, 7, and 8 to be terribly irrefutable and overtly important in the information contained in them.


It shows how oxford keeps up with the emerging trends of English language.


All in all, an extremely indispensable collection of words, over 240,000 in number, this dictionary is all anyone can ask for, for a long time to come to supplement all the needs of finding, understanding and spelling words beyond our reach.


Happy browsing.


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