The Oxford New Russian Dictionary: Russian-English/English-Russian Mass Market Paperback – 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
You can not use it if you are reading junior high school book.
Very poor and frustrating.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I was wrong. The more I use it, the more I like it. Yes, it has all of the obvious limitations of a small, paperback foreign language dictionary. To me, the only disappointment is that it rarely gives the gender of Russian words, which makes life harder for first-year students. But in fairness, neither does the glossary of my Russian textbook. And my professor, who co-wrote the textbook, said that since gender is reasonably predictable in Russian based on the form of the word, it is both customary and reasonable to omit gender except in cases in which it isn't obvious.
Otherwise, this is an excellent reference book for beginning students. One way in which the publishers are unnecessarily hurting themselves is by describing it as a "new" Russian dictionary, implying that it is the first edition. It isn't. According to the copyright page, it is the sixth edition of a pocket dictionary that Oxford University Press has been publishing and updating since 1995. That's a huge advantage; I wouldn't want to use the first edition of any dictionary since the editors need time to get the bugs out.
I should mention one unusual feature of this dictionary that I particularly appreciate as a beginning student of Russian. The roots of Russian words are extremely useful to know, because a variety of words with similar meanings can share a root which is easy to identify and instantly aids in understanding an otherwise unfamiliar word. This dictionary does an excellent job of building on that concept. It is not uncommon to find three or four words with the same root defined under a single head word. (Just to be clear, most head words have only one definition.) It is easy to spot the word you are looking for, but at the same time you are getting a very helpful 10 second lesson in etymology -- seeing how a variety of Russian words closely relate to one another.
I confess that pretty soon after starting Russian I bought a second-hand copy of an older edition of the large Oxford Russian Dictionary from a third-party seller on amazon for help with the gender of unusual Russian words and with writing in Russian and translations from English into Russian, which require far more depth than any pocket dictionary can offer and which apparently led to the previous reviewer's negative review. But for most routine classroom work, I reach for this one first. It's easy to carry around, easy to use, and packed with useful information.
The big lack, imo, is that the gender of nouns is not given. The introduction states, "the gender of nouns can usually be deduced from their endings and it is indicated only in exceptional cases." OK, fair enough; there are straightforward rules for deducing the gender of a noun. But I would still like to see the gender given for all nouns, since I'm learning a new language. All it takes is one letter: m, f, or n.
It would also be helpful to have the pronunciation of Russian words given phonetically; while spoken Russian is certainly much closer to written Russian than is English, there are still some fair complicated rules for how individual letters are pronounced, depending on where in the word they come (beginning, middle, end), which syllable is accented, and which letters come before and after. More help with pronunciation is needed. It would also be nice if the syllable divisions were marked (for example, is a particular consonant pronounced as the end of one syllable or as the beginning of the next syllable? A common question when trying to pronounce an unfamiliar word).
It ain't rocket science. :-)