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Showing 1-10 of 22 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
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.
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on September 9, 2006
My Master's thesis was a review and rating of Spanish-English dictionaries. I find this dictionary, like all the other Oxford dictionaries, to be a good choice.

Here are a few of the factors which distinguish a good bilingual dictionary from a bad one.

To begin with, ignore certain publishers' marketing ploys such as entry and translation counts. They say nothing about the value of the words chosen.

The first valid factor to consider is lexicographic technique. A bad dictionary simply lists translations. Take, for example, the entry in the Cassell's Spanish Dictionary under the English headword loop: "lazo, gaza, nudo; ojal, presilla, alamar; anillo; recodo, comba, curva, vuelta," etc. For the English reader writing in Spanish, this is hopelessly inadequate, as the dictionary provides no clue as to which translation to use in which situation.

Compare the treatment of the same word in the far superior American Heritage Spanish Dictionary. "(length of line) lazo; (coil) vuelta; (bend) curva; (circular path) vuelta, circuito; (fastener) presilla" etc. Here, the user is given glosses in the native language to assist in identifying the right word for the context. Example sentences are also a tremendous help. Oxford is excellent in this respect, presenting good information to guide users through the semantic and syntactic complexities.

Second, a good dictionary should maintain an up-to-date lexicon, including such cultural and technological additions to the language as "baby sitter," "hostile takeover," "software," "flash drive." Oxford is a leader in this respect; its frequent revisions are more than mere window dressing and do a creditable job of covering the most recent additions to the language.

Third, idioms, slang, and cusswords can present real problems to the language learner, and a dictionary needs to handle them in a clear and frank fashion. This dictionary gets it right, giving stylistic equivalents for translations as well as clear advice to the user.

Be careful when you choose a bilingual dictionary, as some of the choices--Cassell's and Vox, for example--are downright terrible. The field of large dictionaries stays relatively static over time, and the best choices in it by far are Oxford, Collins, and Larousse. The field of small dictionaries, on the other hand, has many more players. While not the only good choice, Oxford is a dictionary you would certainly be pleased with.
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on March 23, 2002
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on February 27, 2007
I did a lot of comparison shopping among Spanish-English dictionaries of similar size (or slightly smaller) and like this one best.

I wanted to mention an interesting detail: For some inexplicable reason, the Oxford Spanish Desk Dictionary and the Pocket Oxford Spanish Dictionary appear to be the same book, and are the same size. The only difference is that the "desk" dictionary is the hardcover version (the listed dimensions are very slightly larger because the hard cover extends beyond the page edges just a bit). The "pocket" dictionary is just the softcover version of same.

Now, why the "desk" version and the "pocket" version are the same size, I'll never know -- and, in fact, this "pocket" dictionary is much larger than a pocket-sized paperback -- not a big deal as long as you know what you are getting.

Nonetheless, a great dictionary, and I highly recommend it. I just thought this was an interesting bit of information.
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on November 15, 2000
I am a student in Spainsh and this dictionary really helped me. Its easy to find words quickly and it is very up to date with the times. So if your a person intrested in learning Spainsh or are in Spainsh class this book has: pronuciation, how to write different letters in Spainsh or English, and many other useful features. So if you don't like to waste your time and want something helpful this is for you!
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on August 28, 2004
This is an excellent Spanish-English dictionary for students - and travellers with some understanding of the language. It has almost every word that I could think of using plus useful tid-bits such as descriptions of Spanish-speaking countries, their holidays, weights and measures conversion tables, and examples of how to write various kinds of letters. And, if you're not too hot on grammar, there's a glossary defining grammatical terms for you, such as what a verb and adjective are. The most helpful tool included in this book is a complete chart of verb conjugations that can be applied easily.

Physically, this dictionary is very well constructed. In the many years I've had it the most it's suffered are bent corners and worn edges. It's not going to fall apart on you like many editions that cost more. This is a great resource at any price, and it sells for a bargain.

I used this book for 6 years in Spanish classes and it's all I ever needed!
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on January 28, 2009
I took Nicholas Rollin's "Pocket Oxford Spanish Dictionary" to Mexico with me when I was researching my novel, MEXICAN AUTUMN. It's a big book of over 1,000 pages, but it's printed on thin paper and it's not as heavy as you might imagine. I had no trouble carrying it around, although I must admit I did often substitute a much smaller Phrase Book, particularly in Mexico City where it is comparatively easy to find someone who speaks English. And you won't need a book like this in Tijuana or Mexicali or Acapulco or Puerto Vallarta or San Miguel de Allende either. But just about everywhere else in Mexico, a more comprehensive guide than a simple Phrase Book is essential, particularly if you are engaged in any fields of research requiring question and answer from the native population.
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on October 20, 2007
This is one of the best and most comprehensive dictionaries I've seen that you can still fit in a backpack. It definitely won't fit in your pocket as the title suggests, but is well worth the bigger size. I used this dictionary while I was studying in Spain for ten months and it helped me more than almost any other source I had at the time. It covers almost every word used by people in colloquial language, has every conjugation of every verb, and covers a lot of grammar. There are only a few grammatical things I found that it didn't cover, such as the subjunctive, but you'd need a whole nother book to cover that. If you're going to study in a Spanish speaking country or want a very comprehensive dictionary, I would highly recommend this one.
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on July 1, 2011
This is a wonderfully put together dictionary that has served me perfectly. The grammar explanation is concise and the entries give examples which are invaluable in comprehension and conversation. I also like that the letters are printed boldly on the side of the page, so when your thumbing through and searching for a word it becomes very easy to locate.
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on December 29, 2012
Whose pocket did they put this thing in? Don't get me wrong, this is GREAT dictionary, with modern terms (even texting abbreviations). But if you're looking for something to discreetly carry with you through hispanoamerica, you might want to look for something smaller.
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