I don't know where I would place my fluency in the German language. I don't speak it that well, but I understand most of what i hear, and I read it OK, except for the literary German of Hesse, Goethe, or Rainer Marie Rilke, etc. I think that most students of the language, need to access their NEEDS in a dictionary. I use my Cassell's english-german dictionary, for the rarest, hardest words you might run across, or for strange idiomatic terms. Then again, we are talking about a dictionary that is a desk reference only, of some 630 pages, very large and bulky. All language students need a pocketbook dictionary, for ease of mobility. For that, I have my old, worn out paperback dictionary by Langenscheidt. Altho its almost 600 pages, its small, lightweight, and has almost all the words one would ever need to look up. However, paperback books when used repeatedly for decades fall apart, so that put me in the dictionary market last year, for a replacement. I went to the bookstore, so I could compair the different dictionaries they had available. Finally I bought the OXFORD dictionary, for a couple of reasons. FIRST, the german words you look up are in, BOLD, DARK typeface. Hey, I thought, this would be great, if i'm looking up words in a hurry, or in less than optimum lighting. Also, unlike other dictionaries with tons of words stuck in them, the OXFORD dictionary also is easy to read, cos of large margin space. Now, in a store, you don't know which words to look up, to "test" a dictionary, to see how complete the vocabulary is, and how complete the translations of the German word, to english. This OXFORD dictionary is very weak, in this area as well. I think the other attraction for purchase, was the price. This is an INEXPENSIVE dictionary. So, i buy it, and bring it home. This is when the OXFORD's faults started to make themselves clear. I can't tell you how many times, i've looked up words, even what might be considered common german words, and they simply were NOT in this dictionary. The lack of vocabulary, so one might read Luther's translation of the Bible, or Grimm's fairy tales, or even some regional variations, frustrates one to no end. Also, like most dictionaries, they have the listings of Irregular verbs in the back. However, under the german verbs, they dont list the ENGLISH translation. Apparently, this dictionary was prepared, so it could be sold to German speakers, moreso than English speakers. That can be at times one of the PITFALLS of this dictionary. Lets say you are looking at the english word SAVE. First, it lists the german translations of the word like this: (sport) Abwehr; retten (from VOR + dat.), (keep) Aufheben, (not waste) sparen; (collect) sammeln; (avoid) ersparen (sport) verhindern (goal). Now, do you see some of the problems here? If you are talking about SAVE in a religious sense, you might not know this is the verb RETTEN, just from the information given. (And, erloesen wasnt listed at all, under the verb SAVE. WHOOPS!) OK, let's say you forgot how to say GRACE in german, and I mean the religious meaning of the word. (This happened to me today). Guess what. The only entry in the english, under GRACE, is the german word ANMUT. This is the word you would use, to say "Charming". The actual word for GRACE in the religious sense, ie, GNADE, is NOT listed! (and believe me, this IS a common word.) Another thing in the english to German part of the dictionary, are these little blocks of "information" about the culture. One such paragraph was titled "GREEN CARD", and then had a paragraph, in GERMAN, about what a green card is. OK, great, so this book was designed for both GERMAN and ENGLISH users. However, do i really want to give up so much of what i need as an English speaker needing to understand the German language, so that OXFORD can sell the same book, without any editorial changes, to two markets? NOPE, NEIN, NYET! Now, on the positive side, these same "Cultural paragraphs" stuck inside the dictionary, on the GERMAN part, I do find interesting. HEUTIGE is an Austrian term for new wine. There is a whole paragraph of info about this, under that word. OK, fine, but do I really want to give up lexiographic information, just for this little bit of cultural info? Again, that's to be learnt in other books, altho having a little translation after the entry for the word "HEUTIGE", as "new wine (aust. dialect.) would be sufficient. THE WORST PART of this dictionary, and this is ESPECIALLY TRUE for the english users, is that if you look up a german word, say "UMSLAG". First, is the gender determinator "m" (der), and then the translation COVER (schutz-), Jacket, (Brief-) Envelope, (Med) Compress, (Hosen-) turn-up, and that ends that. THen, you see this: U--EN v sep Turn up, Turn over,(seite), (faellen) chop down, ..(sein) Topple over, (Wetter) change, (Wind) Veer. (HUH?)
OK, to anyone with some knowledge of German, they can see, that this GERMAN section of the dictionary, is set up for GERMANS to understand! Otherwise, why use GERMAN WORDS in the translation of the word UMSLAG? I've not seen that before, and I don't know why I didnt see the problem with that, when i bought it. The dictionary does this with EVERY German to English entry. So, if you want to know in what sense UMSLAG means TURN OVER, you had better know that SEITE means A PAGE, or else you are lost. Obviously, this is a dictionary prepared more for a GERMAN AUDIENCE, that was just made available for ENGLISH USERS, without the completing the German to English translations properly. I find that really strange. Add to this the fact that so many German words are just NOT in here, its a difficult dictionary to use. (for english speakers.) SO, the only time i use it, is if I forget a "Common" german word (I always confuse EMPFANGEN, EMPFINDEN, and EMPFEHLEN). Also, if I'm watching German TV, and its dark in my room, I'll use this, cos the words I'm looking up, are in BOLD typeface, and darker than the other entries. However, for a PAPERBACK GERMAN DICTIONARY, this OXFORD DICTIONARY has little use for me, other than to frustrate me. I'm still going to need to buy a replacement for the LANDENSCHEIDT's German-English dictionary, and I won't have saved any money, cos I wasted the money I spent on this OXFORD dictionary. So, dont be decieved by the "OXFORD" name. This dictionary is confusing, laid out strange, and oddly enough, HAS NO INTERNATIONAL PRONOUNCIATION GUIDE, for the german words. (I know, german is so easy to read, but if you didnt know how to pronouce JOB in German, would you say YOB? What about other international loan words?) This book is NOT RECOMMENDED, unless you need a something like a large print dictionary, for ease of reading.