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Encarta World English Dictionary Hardcover – August, 1999
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English doesn't belong to England--or any other country--any more. It's a global language now, a lingua franca with over 1.5 billion speakers, readers, and writers, so it's about time our reference shelves caught up with reality. The Encarta World English Dictionary, spawn of the popular Microsoft CD-ROM and Internet reference products, covers this new development in the language thoroughly and efficiently, creating a reference tool for anyone hooked into the new global culture. From the basics (American, British, Australian) to the fringes of English distribution in Africa and Asia, the Encarta staff track variant spellings, meanings, and pronunciations in over 100,000 entries comprising some 3.5 million words. If, for example, your Asian correspondent asks you for your "biodata," you can quickly and painlessly learn that she needs your résumé.
Its streamlined entry style emphasizes quick absorption of each word's meaning; still, browsers and researchers are rewarded with etymological and lexicographical information rivaling that found in its competitors. Over 3,000 black-and-white illustrations and 10,000 biographical and geographical entries spanning the centuries (from Gerry Adams to Zoroaster) round out the dictionary and provide depth. With all these features, Encarta World English Dictionary lives up to its promise as a reference tool for our postmodern one-world future. --Rob Lightner
From Library Journal
Lexicographer Soukhanov, "Word Watch" columnist for the Atlantic Monthly and former editor of The American Heritage Dictionaly, draws on the resources of MicrosoftR EncartaR to produce what is being touted as the first new dictionary in 30 years. Arranged letter by letter, it contains over 100,000 headwords, including 10,000 biographical and geographical entries. Each entry includes syllabication, pronunciation (with the pronunciation key across the bottom of the double-spread pages), inflections (tenses, forms of adjectives, and irregular plurals), part of speech, etymologies, and, sometimes, quotations illustrating the use of the word. The different meanings are arranged with the most commonly used senses appearing early in the definition and the less frequently used ones toward the end. The dictionary also includes a useful feature called "quick definitions"Aa brief summary set in small capitals at the beginning of the definition. Another interesting facet is the inclusion of English-language words from countries besides England and the United States. According to Soukhanov, this is "the first dictionary bringing together not only the two main spelling forms of the language (American English and British English) but also all the other main varieties of our language, from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Rim." Compared to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (1998. 10th ed.), this dictionary is small, but it includes terms not found in Merriam-Webster's, such as "DVD" and the Australian "barbie." For this reason, it is recommended for most libraries as a useful tool for patrons looking for words just recently finding their way into our language.
-ACynthia A. Johnson, Barnard Coll. Lib., New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I own a number of dictionaries and consult most of them every day. Each has its limitations. All are necessary to my work. These self-references are shared inorder to suggest that the Encarta World Dictionary will be praised by some, reviled by others. Given its substantial cost, you are urged to (a) determine precisely what your needs are and then (b) determine to what extent Encarta fills most (if not all) of those needs. It was a welcome addition to my personal library. I refer to it almost every day. When evaluating a dictionary such as this, how important is the total number of words? This one offers comparably fewer than others in its price range. How important are the origins of words? I prefer other sources such as John Ayto's Dictionary of Word Origins. How important is historical (especially biographical) material? In this area, I rate the Encarta adequate. How current do you require a dictionary to be? None other in its price range is more current. How important to you is the nomenclature of the Internet and WWW? There are far better sources if that is your primary reference need. No dictionary of this scale can be everything to everyone. I rate it as highly as I do because of its practical value to me. Also, because it is aesthetically pleasing. I again urge you to determine what you need from a dictionary. Examine the Encarta carefully and then judge for yourself.