- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Hippocrene Books; First Printing edition (October 2001)
- Language: English, Mandarin Chinese
- ISBN-10: 0781808421
- ISBN-13: 978-0781808422
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Chinese-English Frequency Dictionary: A Study Guide to Mandarin Chinese's 500 Most Frequently Used Words (English and Mandarin Chinese Edition) First Printing Edition
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However, I draw your attention to the following omissions:
*Multi-reading characters are not noted. If I'm studying a character, I'd want to know that it has another reading.
*The entries begin at the most common character and work downwards. Fine. But often the most common disyllable for any given character will not begin with that character. It will begin with another character, followed by the character in question. The author simply doesn't mention any of these, regardless of their popularity.
*No mention is made of the traditional form/s of the characters. People on the 'mainland' may think this is a waste of time anyway. But if you really want to know Chinese characters well, the more the better. Also, more than once I have found that learning the fantizi (traditional form of the character) has enabled me to distinguish between two confusing simplified characters.
*No cross referencing to synonyms, antonyms or potentially confusing characters.
*As mentioned by a previous reviewer, more indexes. Some Japanese dictionaries have three indexes. There are many different ways to locate a Character (see my review of Character Indexes of Modern Chinese (Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monograph) by N.H. Leon ISBN: 0700701346), which indexes the characters in four ways.
*No stroke-order guidance. Little on this needs to be said, except that I'm NOT in favour of a demonstration of the stroke order of each character by having it drawn over and over again with progresssively more strokes to show which follows which. Where do the strokes begin and end? This method also takes up too much space. A far preferred way is used in Kanji & Kana: A Handbook of the Japanese Writing System by Wolfgang Hadamitzky and Mark Spahn (ISBN: 0804820775). They simply show the character in a nice, neat, large size. At the BEGINNING of the first stroke, for example, there's a small 1 followed by a small 2 at the BEGINNING of the second stroke and so on. This is dignified and visually appealing.
This book isn't the only one which makes such omissions. Take Oxford/Foreign Language Press E-C/C-E dictionaries, for example. Alternatives to this book can be found amongst my other reviews.
I DON'T think that, just because many of us have studied far more than 500 characters, this book looks at TOO FEW characters. The approach with this book is to look at common words in greater detail, and I find this very useful. For example, before coming to China I thought I had a thorough appreciation of the word hao3 (good). But I found that often this word is used for "very", such as hao3 lei4 (very tired) hao3 ke3ai4 (very cute). This is where this book is worthy of our careful attention.
I don't want to be too harsh. Please note at the beginning of this review I did say that I actually recommend the book, for a reasonable price.
However, while the lookup methods could be improved, the definitions are outstanding. Unlike a character dictionary (like the excellent "Reading and Writing Chinese" published by Tuttle), which provides a basic meaning or two along with a few examples of words that use the character, this book provides all meanings of the character along with many examples. Most helpful of all is the explanation of characters which are related to the grammar structure. For example, the aspect particle "le", the "to be" verb "shi", and the "at" and current tense aspect marker "zai" each have about a page and a half explanation along with example words and sentences.
It should be noted that only simplified characters are used in this book (simplified characters are used in mainland China while complex or traditional characters are used in Taiwan and Hong Kong). Also, all example words and sentences are shown both in characters and in pinyin (the romanization system used for pronounciation).
I found this book to be a good complement to both a standard character dictionary and a regular dictionary. I would rate it a 5 if it contained 1) a more complete lookup system (stroke count, radical, etc) 2) writing information for each character and 3) complex characters as well, at least in the entry listing if not in all of the examples.
The formatting facilitates concentrating on the Chinese, too: just highlight the character text on your first pass, then ignore all the other stuff on subsequent passes. Accuracy is good, with silly errors seemingly scarce (incorrect tone mark here and there in the examples, or an occasional word lapse [e.g., the pinyin for 'xiabian de shu' is given as 'shangbian de shu' on p. 24]).
Having spent about 800 one-on-one hours with a tutor over the past year, I've lately realized that in the heat of stimulating day-to-day discussions, new and reviewed vocabulary have taken somewhat of a back seat. Yong Ho's book has provided a very easy and profitable way to pass commuting time (but only if you're a rider, not a driver!).
I'm familiar with many of the student dictionaries available nowadays: favorites, for various reasons, are the Cheng & Tsui Pinyin Learner's Dictionary (ISBN 0887273165) and the newest Century Edition of the New English-Chinese Dictionary (ISBN 7532725421), along with Wenlin for the Macintosh (incorporating the DeFrancis ABC Dictionary). But for quick and painless spare-time review, this one has the right size, shape, content, and price.
Several years ago I swore off any product produced by Hippocrene Books, having wasted good money on some perfectly useless introductory material (in a language other than Chinese). This book has certainly raised them a notch in my eyes.