I can’t imagine being a language learner back in the days where paper dictionaries were the norm.
I’m too reliant on the convenience, speed and flexibility online dictionaries offer. Multiple example sentences per word entry, collocations, phrases, compound words, idioms / proverbs etc – probably hard(er) for a paperback to contain so much information!
Although I already have my usual go-to dictionaries, it’s always good to see more varied offerings online.
Dict.com, created by Lingea, is positioning themselves as the most extensive online dictionary – they currently have 29 languages in 616 unique combinations and probably will be growing in the future.
Let’s see how good it is for Japanese and Korean! 😀
Firstly, I like how uncluttered and clean the interface is. This is very important.
My impression is that the Japanese dictionary is better than the Korean one – it’s more developed and there’s more content there.
Take 食べる as an example. I really like how they provide quite a number of phrases related to “eating”, and these phrases are very useful and relevant. Just by searching one entry, you end up learning a number of phrases.
Clicking the blue arrow at the bottom right will bring up a number of related words such as lunch and breakfast haha. Pretty cool function!
That being said, the dictionary is still quite simple. It’s good for beginners but there are some words (eg.ペラペラ） that are not really searchable in the dictionary. It does come up in the phrases part but not the main entry – it showed up as ペプシン if you type in katakana and 北京if you type in hiragana ?! lol
I am quite amused but I don’t think a beginner learner will be.
Okay, now to Korean!
It does work quite well for beginner learners.
For those who have been learning Korean for quite some time, you will know that some verbs (especially the “seemingly basic” ones) have loads of meanings. Take 하다 for example. In Naver’s dictionary, you get TWENTY meanings. Here, you get 1 basic one.
It can be good for beginning learners – it’s quite overwhelming to digest 20 meanings and can be rather off-putting to realise that something seemingly basic is soo hard. But then again if you are too reliant on basic dictionaries, you lose out on a lot of information!
It does seem that the site is better for certain languages (French, German, Russian etc) as they provide audio recordings for a select few. To be honest, I think it’s not easy to be a good dictionary for all languages – it’s not like you just need to create “the base version” and have it translated into many different languages.
Creating a dictionary (eg. Korean-English) is A LOT of work. A good dictionary should be comprehensive and specialised. For example, it makes sense for a Korean-English dictionary to include grammar points / particles etc. I should be able to get at least a basic explanation if I type in -겠다 and also if I type in 이/가 (the particles). For other language systems, the dictionary should work differently.
In that sense, I believe more in specialised dictionaries compared to dictionaries that offer a large number of language combinations at one go. The idea of an extensive online dictionary is very very alluring but even to a normal user like me (who have no idea what goes into creating a dictionary), I can imagine that it’s gonna be tons and tons of work.
For me, a dictionary is only useful if it is very in depth and I cannot stand it when the dictionary fails me. As a somewhat experienced learner, I can tell if a dictionary is just too basic. But for the beginner-intermediate learner, not being able to find a word is going to create confusion – is the learner typing in the wrong stuff? Is there no such word?
One gripe I have about Dict.com is that it is very consistent in its uncluttered interface that there is only one URL no matter what you type – different from Naver dictionary where each entry has a url. I’m not sure if that matters to everyone but it does to me. (:
All in all, if you are looking for a more simplified dictionary, Dict.com is your go-to site! That being said, I really hope that they will develop more content for the languages they currently offer.
What do you think?