116 of 119 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2007
I am an older person (69, wear specs) and have no problem with the print in the sixth edition of this great dictionary. Yes, the print is smaller than that of the fifth edition, but the volume itself is also smaller, less poundage, allowing an (older) arm to lift the darn thing without mechanical help--say, a forklift. No problem at all with the print. One technical note for Mac users regarding the CD-ROM. Tech support at Oxford tells me that a patch is on the way, but as of 25 Sept. 2007 the installed SOED is inoperative on both my iMAC G5 and MacBook. So until that patch arrives I'll just have to use the real thing, not a bad idea anyway. A great dictionary.
A year later now (October 2008) and I've just installed the update to the application version of this great dictionary. And I'm happy to report that it works well on both an iMac G5 and a new MacBook. Loads fast and word look-ups are instantaneous. Impressive improvements over the original application.
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 1998
The previous review complained that headwords had to be entered manually, and I thought so too for about half an hour of playing with the none-too-intuitive interface. But this turns out to be incorrect. If you double-click any word (to highlight it), then mouse on the open-book icon, the entry for that word will be called into the display window. I would have preferred a right-button mouse menu, but I'm glad to have the capability however it's implemented. btw, if there are possible other forms of the word you've selected this way, a menu pops up to let you choose. Nice.
The Windows menu does not include an option to tile the screen (just cascade), plus the app doesn't remember window positions. Annoying, but not a showstopper.
More irritating is not having better access to the quotation sources and authors. But there are plenty of quotes. Also, while I'm picking nits, there is no option to Select All (pretty standard with Win95 apps these days), so you have to mouse select the whole page if that's what you want. Also, no line breaks are preserved when you paste into a text editor, so plan on lots of reformatting if this is something you want to do often. Grabbing single blocks of text is easy however.
I'm glad to have this material readily to hand, so I can easily live with Oxford University Press's obvious lack of skill in the interface department. Also, the screen presentation looks pretty good, so there's that.
I also discovered a Very Cool Thing you can do, which is to copy the CD subdirectories to your hard disk -- if you have the room -- and access the app without needing the compact disc. This improves performance immensely, plus frees your CD drive for something else; Microsoft Bookshelf 98 in my case. Don't laugh -- it's a cool tool too.
If you're a dictionary junkie like me, you'll want to get this one. Not perfect, no, but well worth the price.
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2008
I was a tech writer and editor with an intense, lifelong interest in the language, its usage, mechanics and subtle nuances that shorter works are unable to provide. The full OED runs to ~16,000 pages in ~20 volumes which is overkill for all but professional philologists. (I have the Compact OED in which all 16,000 pages appear 4-up on 4,000 pages. Even using the magnifier supplied, I was going blind!) In Canada, the OED CD-ROM alone lists at CDN $500., more than I could justify. The SOED is only one step down and more than adequately meets my needs.
I purchased the Deluxe Edition with CD-ROM that uploads to the computer enabling subsequent usage without the disc in the drive. (It has a kewl audio pronunciation feature accessed using an icon after the word which avoids deciphering the 'hieroglyphs' in the print edition, avoiding the need to 'learn a second language'!)
It traces development, spelling and usage of words over, in many cases, several centuries, quoting from works of well-known English writers.
My purchase of the SOED is a dream come true. At the price Amazon offers it's a steal! I unreservedly recommend the SOED to all aficianados of the English language. ['PS' to my fellow Canadians: The set produced for sale in Canada has a glued binding which I consider inappropriate for a reference work subject to heavy use. My set from Amazon has a more durable stitched binding.]
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
This review is a little different than most of those I've written because I haven't actually read the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary all the way through, and yet this is not a negative tirade on how ridiculously awful the first few pages were (see Code of the Mountain Man, X-Rated Bloodsuckers, and When One Man Dies for examples of those). In fact, I couldn't be happier with it. I hope I never finish it -- that there will always be something new to discover about our fabulous (though often painfully flawed) English language.
Though I wouldn't turn down a full Oxford English Dictionary if someone gave it to me and I had the free shelf space for all twenty volumes (both of which are equally unlikely), I actually believe the two-volume shorter version is more useful. The editors have pared the contents of the behemoth down to just those words in regular use any time after 1700 a.d.
Added to this are the entire contents of the works of pre-1700 authors William Shakespeare, John Milton, and Edmund Spenser, as well as the full text of the King James Version of the Bible. This is basically every word the average person is likely to come across, provided you don't often indulge in pre-18th century reading material (with Geoffrey Chaucer and Beowulf being notable omissions).
And of course the Oxford editors are perhaps best known for their historical perspective, an aspect that is also contained in the shorter version of their dictionary. Most words have chronological listings and a complete etymology with origins where they're known and literary examples, something often missing in American dictionaries but utterly vital to language enthusiasts (like those of us who take the time to write rave reviews of dictionaries).
If you're in the market for a dictionary and just aren't satisfied with yet another variation on the Webster's/American Heritage clan (and you're willing to spend the extra money), the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is an investment in your future. (Mine was a gift from my wife -- that's definitely one way to know you've married the right woman.)
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2008
I was looking for a dictionary of the English language for a very long time, not knowing what to buy, because of the diversity of publishers and editions. I'm not a specialist in the field, but I can say that this deluxe edition is very usefull for both students and professors, and it can make a very beautiful gift. the sixth edition takes in new terms from such productive areas as computing, communications, science, and slang while also casting new light on the history of English. They added quotations from authors and periodicals of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. There is an essay at the beginning of the dictionary "A brief history of English" by David Crystal which gives an overview of the development of the language from Old English to the 21st century. the dictionary is wery well bounded, the covers are made from a beautiful dark blue leather with golden inscriptions. the borders of the pages are also of gold colour. very nice and very well structured. very satisfied with it.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2010
The impressive box cover is a foldable protective device and not a Slip Cover. The artwork on the slippery Dust Jacket is not reproduced on the blue covers, unlike the DK Oxford Illustrated Dictionaries. With strong glue and sensible folding, a home-made slip cover can be fashioned from the box cover.
Shamelessly, I can "request" my staff put on a plastic wrap right away (outside their job description!), while I am going to the computer to order another set for my home. Better investment than futures derivatives and other dictionaries, I think.
These two volumes need to have mylar plastic jackets with custom-made retaining end-pockets, so the publishers may want to consider this as an optional extra. I consider custom-made plastic jackets Mandatory, and those who do not want the Mylar jacket can just slip it away.
Thus plastic protected, this Dictionary makes excellent reading from cover to cover, like a novel. The layout is superb. The words stand out. Etymology is usefully condensed and unobstrusive. All words are of the Good to Know category, and this is the FEEL GOOD dictionary of all time. I read it recreationally.
I wondered if the CD proclaimed loudly on the protective box dropped out during shipping, but it was found securely stuck on an inside page at the end of Volume 2. Shrink wrapping on the 2 volumes means the CD is tamper-proof.
This dictionary is more likely to go up in price rather than down. It was once Eligible for Super-Saver Shipping (mine), but this is no longer the case. Lock in your order now, before you get charged for the CD, which I thought was a pleasant unadvertised bonus. There is a hefty premium for the CD with the Concise Oxford.
Much has been said of the scarily thin paper printed in Italy. I tugged on random pages and opined it can withstand a lifetime of reasonable use without tearing. It is not the heavy duty paper of the 1993 editionS, (there were several versions), which were ironically Printed in the United States of America, and had the American pronouncing key in many 1993 versions. This edition has the International Phonetic Transcription.
I pinched a singular thin page with both hands and managed to lift the spine half an inch off the table with that singular page before my nerves gave way, rather than the page.
The paper was of high quality; bright and pleasing to touch. Very little of the print on the reverse page can be "seen through", and the translucent effect was not noticeable unless you looked for it. Paradoxically, a different dictionary from another reputable publisher with much thicker Finnish paper had the print of the reverse page showing through.
Words are divided into:
A. MUST KNOW: the 3000 core words of any language which enables you to read the newspaper in that language,
B. SHOULD KNOW: the 10000 words which allows you to argue, persuade, communicate, get a raise, and make you sound smart,
C. GOOD TO KNOW: that is our SHORTER OXFORD forte. No archaic words. There is not a single word which might not come in handy one day. This is a fascinating journey of discovery into words I should have looked up, but was too lazy to do so at the time - reading in the toilet, space shuttle, being legit excuses, and
D. THERE TO KNOW: which is the 20 Volume "Mother" OXFORD, which is also fascinating reading, but I have rarely bothered to resort to it for two decades, except in extremis, and it remains a vanity possession.
The Head-letter of each and every entry is not auto-capitalised, unlike some idiotic 1993 versions. You can figure out how "Bangalore torpedo" is capitalised, but it is useful to know "clarence" the coach is not capitalised.
If only I had known this dictionary was so reader friendly, I would have raved less about some other dictionaries, which are now reduced to compendiums by this Shorter Oxford. Let me explain:
a. all Latin phrases are there, so there is no pressing need for a separate dictionary of latin phrases; and they are in useful phrase form, not in single word form which drives you crazy,
b. all French phrases in common and uncommon use are there,
c. all the commonly used Chinese, Japanese, asian romanised terms are there,
d. all the medical terms of a small medical dictionary are there - "trust me, I am a doctor" :) - so there is no need for you to buy a "just in case" medical dictionary. I believe this applies to the "contingency" dictionaries in other professional disciplines and liberal arts. I am afraid to point out examples from the fabulous array of medical terms and products, for fear that my colleagues might construe it as a sign of my prior ignorance of these terms,
e. a dictionary of Acronyms would now be totally subsumed,
...I think you get the idea of just how usefully comprehensive this work is.
I am going to postpone my purchase of a Hebrew-English dictionary after finding "Talmid Chacham" (smart-ass) properly explained. For legal definitions, I would rather have professionally researched words, but I can foresee this Shorter Oxford coming in useful as evidence of Every Day usage of the English words, replacing the Concise Oxford, like in libel suits. Just about every small "specialised" dictionary, even technical ones, has been subsumed within the latest Shorter Oxford. In this respect, it is great value for money.
Fear of clowns, "coulrophobia", on page 535, cannot be found in the 20 Volume Oxford and its Addition Series, nor in large Medical Dictionaries, nor in The American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV TR Manual - shame!
At the time of this review, it has been marked down from the list price of $175 to $110. In 1993, the dictionary was 39.95 pounds sterling. Some later revisions were 79.95 pounds sterling; special versions priced, well, specially. Given the exchange rate then of English money, the current Shorter Oxford is cheaper today in absolute terms. And if you factor in the purchasing power of money in 1993, you are getting this at just a fraction of the inflation-adjusted 1990s price, and a free CD too.
To the Editors' credit, the Shorter Oxford steers well clear from being a thesaurus. Precise definitions are given, not a list of similar words leaving you wondering how to match the meaning with the appropriate simile.
The height of the Shorter Oxford is just slightly less than the 20 Volume Mother Oxford. I suspect these two colourfully jacketed volumes are to join the 2009 (now printed in China) Mother Oxford , forming the preface of a 22 volume set. Sneaky.
Other than my gripe with the unfortified Dust Jacket, this super-duper Edition merits association with the word "lexicographomania", which is not in the Shorter Oxford, but neither is it in the 20 volume Mother Oxford. And yes, the Shorter Oxford deliberately leaves out many portmanteau words where you can go figure out the meaning for yourself.