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Oxford Compact Chinese Dictionary Paperback – Jun 15 1999

3.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Paperback, Jun 15 1999
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (June 15 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195911512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195911510
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 4.3 x 13 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 748 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #617,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

This would be a GREAT dictionary except for the fact that it utilizes the mutilated, simplified characters a la Mao Zidong and the cultural revolution. At least both simplified AND traditional characters could have been used. Those characters are disgusting, thus, making this dictionary disturbing.
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By A Customer on April 30 2004
If I can have only one affordable English/Chinese dictionary, this would be it. (It is far more better than the popular Chinese Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary (ISBN 0966075005) although that particular dictionary is fairly good.)This dictionary is actually two way dictionaries: one half is English/Chinese and the other half is Chinese/English. Containing some 26,000 words and phrases, it is certainly not a dictionary for the scholar, but a student of Chinese will find it very useful. Although the book emphasizes simplified characters, traditional characters are provided and a student using the traditional characters would be fine with this dictionary.
The real drawback to this dictionary, which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that, as other reviewers have mentioned, it does NOT provide the Pinyin for its example phrases/sentences; thus if the reader does not know a certain character s/he will have to find it by using the radically index or go the English/Chinese portion and find the word there (English traditions of the example phrases/sentences are provided). Also try the Xinhua Zidian (ISBN 7801031989), which is another excellent Chinese/English dictionary.
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As concise dictionaries go this offering from Oxford is my cup of tea. I have two huge dictionaries: C-E and E-C but when I want to look up a word I always turn to this one first. It does not pretend to have everything, but nine times out of ten it has what I am looking for.
The first half of the dictionary is English to Chinese with the second half reversing that. The E-C section has the English word followed by the Chinese equivalent (if there is such a thing :) in characters, followed by the pinyin. For common words it also includes variations and short examples. This seems to be somewhat inconsistently done in terms of the amount of English included and/or pinyin. It assumes that the reader has at least a minimal grasp of Chinese. If they do not what are the expecting from a dictionary? Language cannot be equated word for word. You must study it in its cultural context.
The second half of the dictionary is arranged alphabetically by pinyin, tone and radical. In other words if you knew rice/meal was "fan" you would look up "fan" and then find the fourth tone section and then the character for rice. If you do not know the tone (always a challenge) or the character (a bigger challenge) it gets a little harder. Chinese is not a language designed for dictionaries. As with most Chinese dictionaries it is almost impossible for a non-native speaker to look up a character to find its meaning. It is an involved process of figuring out which stroke was first and how many there are and whether or not the character is single or combined with others. The radical index is well laid out and I have seen a Chinese locate a character in seven seconds with little problem. Anyone using this dictionary should already know that however, so I do not count it against the dictionary.
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I was disappointed by this dictionary, because it doesn't really seem well geared to people wishing to learn Chinese, but more to Chinese native speakers wishing to learn English. The reason I point this out is that, as the reviewer before me points out, the examples are in Chinese characters with no pinyin in the Chinese section. The methodology of the dictionary in that it gives example sentences and not just one word for another is sound, however, unless you already read Chinese well, you will be at a loss when it comes to using those all-important example phrases. Incidentally, this seems to be a regular habit of Chinese publishing houses which produce manuals and courses for learns of the language, as I have pointed out in my review of "New Slang Of China" and as I have observed in a set of idiom books produced from another publishing house in the east, many teaching aids do not take into account the fact that beginner and even intermediate students of Chinese still need pinyin or some other form of transliteration as a crutch, otherwise the examples are well nigh worthless! I am surprised to see this trend also in teh Oxford dictionary, unless it is intended primarily for Chinese students and not students of Chinese, especially as the author is a westerner! You would think he would know what learners really need, no wouldn't you? There's no excuse! Fortunately, Oxford has had the good sense to release a new dictionary, "The Oxford Starter Chinese Dictionary" which, as the name suggests, in geared towards learners of Chinese. You would do well to have that book as well as this one, or, given the choice, instead of it. Us ethe other one and keep this one for someof the more complicated words you might need to look up.
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Despite the growing popularity of the Chinese language, there are still relatively few tools on the market for learning it (compared to the number of books in print for learning Spanish, French, etc.) Given this situation, this dictionary will answer two key needs faced by every student of the Chinese language:
-Despite its classification as a dictionary, this book is perfect for students who need to memorize the Chinese characters needed for core competency in the language. Each word/character entry is presented in simplified form, along with its traditional equivalent. (I use this dictionary myself as a study tool to maintain my grasp of Chinese characters.)
-Although you probably won't memorize every word in the Chinese-English section of this dictionary, it is useful for intermediate students who are trying to expand their vocabulary. The author has effectively chosen a wide variety of Chinese words without inserting too many obscure examples.
The English-Chinese section of the book is also very complete. You will find an accurate Chinese translation of almost any word common to the vocabulary of an adult English-speaker.
(Review by Edward Trimnell, author of "Why You Need a Foreign Language & How to Learn One," (ISBN:1591133343))
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