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A. Murdoch (St Andrews, Scotland)

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Oxford Beginner's Chinese Dictionary
Oxford Beginner's Chinese Dictionary
by Oxford University Press
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for beginners. Adequate for several years experience., 27 Mar 2008
When I bought this dictionary there was no clear idea which books to get for each part of the language. Most people start speaking along with pinyin writing. Later on most wish to at least try out chinese script with no idea where to go.

This book has all the necessary information and is clearly set out. The two main sections, as expected, are Eng-Chi, Chi-Eng. The definitions set this apart from other dictionaries. English words are matched with common expressions used when a single word translation is not permitted and pinyin words are matched with translations and several contexts in which they may be used.

Along with the definitions are the chinese character equivalent of the pinyin written so finding out how to write the correct character. But it wouldn't be complete without some sort of character definition. This book provides this in what seams to me to be an excellent layout for such a complex system. The radicals are presented in stroke order and assigned a number. Following a selection of characters for each radical is listed along with the pinyin equivalent.

This dictionary is purely reference and for pinyin-english provides everything needed. Do not forget though that you will also need:

- Overall language book (e.g. Teach Yourself Beginners Chinese)
- Character book (e.g. Reading and Writing Chinese - W. McNaughton)

With three books (and lessons), however, this will only provide the basis of the language, enough to get by on holiday or to have simple conversations for example. To obtain a real understanding of the language (for literature, university courses and fluency in the language) you will probably need a number of books other than these basic three types as well as extensive experience speaking and reading.

Basically don't fool yourself, to learn Chinese to a expert level compared with a romanic language like Spanish or Italian will take twice as long if not longer purely because of the completely different structure and lack of a phonetic alphabet. This dictionary will go a long way to helping.

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