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Collins Gem Korean Dictionary (Collins Gem) Paperback – 3 Jun 2010
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The booklet has two unusual properties.
1. Unlike most dictionaries called “Language X Dictionary”, which are geared to speakers of language X who want to learn English (usually a commercial majority) and which are thus less than useful for speakers of English who want to learn language X (usually a negligible number), this the dictionary is well-balanced, not aimed specifically at either Korean or English users, giving “fair coverage” to both languages.
2. Given the unusual semantics of some Korean verbs, some verbs are translated by sample sentences only. An example is the verb 흠쳐가다, which means something like “to steal something and run with it”, which is translated using a sentence implying that meaning. This method actually works quite well.
I have been learning Korean for a few years now, and this is the first dictionary, in print, or electronic, that I have actually found helpful to my studies. My guess is that a Korean person learning English will find it equally helpful.
Why? Because it is the only simple English/Korean - Korean/English dictionary to use both English and Korean script. All other SIMPLE Korean dictionaries I have seen are rendered almost useless because they use romanized Korean script (making it necessary to learn a third language, romanized Korean). There are also available wonderful, detailed and advanced English/Korean, Korean/English dictionaries, but they are produced by Korean publishers, for Korean users, so one would need to be pretty advanced in Korean before they become useful. The same criticism (too detailed for a beginner, produced for Koreans, not English speakers) also applies to every electronic dictionary that I have seen.
In addition to the two basic dictionaries, the front matter contains an explanation (in English) of how to pronounce Korean words, together with an explanation (in Korean) of how to pronounce English words using the phonetic information in the dictionary. Also in the front matter are tables of (1) Korean and sino-Korean numbers, (2) Korean days of the week and (3) Korean Months.
This book is truly pocket sized. It is produced in a wonderfully clear type-faces (both English and Korean) which are easy to read. I particularly appreciated this last point - in most dictionaries that I have seen, the KOREAN words are printed very small (for native Korean speakers), which makes them hard for me to read. In this dictionary they are beautifully clear and easy to read.
My ONLY criticism of this dictionary is that it does not have (at the beginning, or down the side of the pages), the alphabetical order for the two languages (A,B,C... or the Korean equivalent). However, the word order is in the correct order of the Korean alphabet (Hangul) and the English alphabet.
Not a criticism, but I would dearly have loved it if the dictionary also included a basic grammar of Korean and English. Perhaps though, that is another book.
I cannot recommend this little book too highly. I have been waiting for it for a long time.
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