Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review of the Oxford Concise English-Chinese Chinese-English Dictionary (2nd ed.)

The Oxford Concise English-Chinese Chinese-English Dictionary is an invaluable tool for any person who wants to learn, or who has any understanding of Chinese up to an upper-intermediate level and needs a reference.  At 1,100 pages and 26,000 entries, it covers the overwhelming majority of words and phrases used regularly in each language, but remains roughly the size of the average paperback novel, making it ideal for students just starting to learn Chinese or those who are well on their way to fluency.  Those looking for advanced language reference or phrases and expressions simply for travel purposes would do better looking elsewhere.

The Chinese half is organized alphabetically according to Chinese standard pinyin (not the Wade-Giles, Yale, or any other outdated romanization).  Simplified characters are used (though many traditional characters are presented for expository purposes).  There is likewise a radical index which lists radicals, their conjugations, and is completely cross-referenced with the pinyin section.  (Any serious student of Chinese will find this most useful.)  For each character, its function (noun, verb, etc.) and its meaning(s) in English are given.  Examples phrases, sentences, and expressions are provided, as needed, for the purpose of clarification, of which there are innumerable instances.  The English section (organized as any English dictionary) contains phonetic pronunciations (British English) as well as various and multiple analogies in Chinese. 

In the end, the Oxford Concise English-Chinese Chinese-English Dictionary is the most practical reference on the market for students who are just beginning or who have a relatively good grasp of the Chinese language.  The fonts and layout are precise and readable, everything organized accessibly.  Near fully comprehensive, I used this dictionary for three years and never encountered a situation it was not helpful. It truly was invaluable.

(Please note that this review is for the now outdated 2nd edition, though I can't imagine the dictionary has gotten worse in any later iterations.)

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