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Not your abuelo's Spanish dictionary
on May 3, 2000
After too many years I decided it was time to retire the well-thumbed Cassell's from my undergraduate days, and I'm glad I did.
Carvajal's Pocket Oxford features modern word choices and intelligible definitions, in place of the quaint usages and ambiguous synonyms that used to keep me thumbing back and forth through the dictionary as though it was a thesaurus, trying to figure out which word was the right one for a given context. It offers ample pronunciation and grammatical cues for each entry, including details less sophisticated dictionaries leave out, such as the pronunciations of Spanish words which don't follow Spanish orthography (el "handicap" is pronounced /'xandicap/ not /an'dicap/) and distinctions between countable and uncountable nouns in English (you can pass "two rolls" across the table but usually not "two breads"). Where more explanation is required, it makes frequent use of sidebars (clothing measures, the rules for compound nouns, and the niceties of synonyms for "toilet"). It keeps up with new vocabulary ("el Internet") and includes ample coverage of European and American usage in both languages. Place names appear together with regular entries, not relegated to a gazeteer in the back. Clearly some real thought went into the usability of this dictionary.
My one word of caution is that the word "pocket" doesn't really apply to this book any more; it's a little hefty for travel use. But at 80,000 entries it it complete enough to cover most needs without the overwhelming bulk of an unabridged dictionary.