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The Starter Oxford Chinese Dictionary

Title: The Starter Oxford Chinese Dictionary

Author: Boping Yuan
Format: Paperback
List Price: $15.95
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Amazon USA Price: $10.85

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The Starter Oxford Chinese Dictionary

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Product Details
  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (December 15, 2000)
  • ISBN: 0198602588
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1.0 inches
  • Average Customer Review: based on 22 reviews.

Spotlight Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful:

Wish I Had It a Year Ago, June 9, 2003

Reviewer: C. Sahu "Cathy Sahu" (Southern California)

I've just completed my first two semesters studying Mandarin and they would have been a lot easier if I had had this dictionary from the beginning. Everyone says how easy Mandarin grammar is and that may be true relative to other languages (and relative to learning Chinese characters!), but you still need to learn quite a bit of Mandarin grammar before you can start formulating sentences. I always felt very uncomfortable doing my homework (translation from English to Chinese) because I didn't know whether I was using the grammar properly or not and had no way of checking. I was worried about accidentally getting into bad grammatical habits without even knowing it, because my textbook (Integrated Chinese) has really very little usage information and neither did the dictionaries I had on hand.

Once I got "The Starter Oxford Dictionary," however, homework became so much easier and I no longer feel insecure about sentence formulation. The emphasis in this dictionary is on usage, so instead of having tons and tons of words (which you can get from a regular dictionary), it has a fewer number of words with their usages very clearly explained and illustrated. For example: the entry for the English word "can": "Oxford Starter" divides "can" into three subcategories: "to have the possibility" (translated as neng); "to know how to" (hui); "to be allowed to" (keyi). The "neng" entry then gives two illustrative sentences "Can he come?/Ta neng lia ma?" and "Where can I buy stamps?/Wo zai nar neng maidao youpiao?" The "hui" subcategory has three such illustrative sentences and the "keyi" has four. There are also two warnings on translating "can," one for "hui" and one for "keyi": "Note that when talking about the ability to speak a language, whether or not "can" is used in English, "hui" is required in Chinese" and "Note that to negate, you have to use "bu neng" rather than "bu keyi."

Odds are, if you're studying Chinese, you're a bibiophile, too, so probably you don't need a lot of convincing to buy yet another Chinese dictionary. But in praise of this work I have to say that, if I could have only one book to help me learn elementary Mandarin, this would be it.

(Note: "The Oxford Started Chinese" does use only simplified characters. However, I am learning with traditional and found it wasn't that difficult to figure out what the traditional equivalents were, especially since the entries are organized by pinyin. It would be nice to have a traditional edition but I still wholeheartedly recommend the simplified.)

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful:

Good Start Starter, December 28, 2002

Reviewer: David Malik "professordavid" (Zionsville, IN USA)

This is a handy companion for the beginning of Chinese study. It includes common words, has large type (very important to me), and lots of cross references and "topical" digressions (languages, dates, special words, etc. referenced with citations). It also has a nice measure word section (some are included with nouns, but not always). It also contains both American and British options in word uses.

What I don't like. It ONLY has simplified characters (I would like the traditional ones included also with a primary citation). Harbaugh's book focuses on traditional ones but has both; the bigger Oxford (Manser, 2nd Ed.) has both. It does not have a pronunciation guide which, as a beginner, would be helpful to remind us (constrain us?). Some common words are not in there (who's judgement call?). And, some examples would be helpful where the primary citation includes precedent words. For example, look up "qi" and be able to find "tianqi".

On balance: good overwhelm the bad. After all, it's only about $12-15. As other reviewers have commented, "You need several dictionaries anyway." Do I use it all the time. Absolutely. It's also more fun than the bigger Oxford (Manser). But if Oxford could see clear to include "my" downsides, I'd be much happier.

Customer Reviews
Avg. Customer Review:
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

get the Oxford Chinese Dictionary instead, November 12, 2004

Reviewer: reader

Why get the lesser, shorter version of the Oxford Chinese Dictionary when one could get the whole version for about the same price? This dictionary is basically a shorter version of Oxford's more comprehensive dictionary, and the student of Chinese will soon outgrow it. You are better off getting the Oxford Chinese Dictionary (0195968336).

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

great beginner's dictionary, September 1, 2004

Reviewer: Lisa F. "lisafr" (Venice, CA USA)

I found this dictionary indispensible during my first year Mandarin class. It's easy to read and contains extremely useful explanations of usage and grammatical points, making it a wonderful adjunct to our textbook. You will need another more comprehensive dictionary for vocabulary purposes, but I haven't seen a better dictionary for first and second year students. Buy it!

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Very Good Basic Dictionary, April 17, 2004

Reviewer: Sean O'Connor (Norwalk, CT United States)

I'm very satisfied - I can find every word I need a definition for. The typographic style (colors, bold, etc.)is a pleasure to use. I recommend highly.

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:

Very good Beginner Dictionary, August 26, 2003

Reviewer: "markf1" (Union City, CA United States)

A very good English/Mandarin Chinese dictionary. I would give it five stars if it was more complete. The dictionary is missing a lot of words.

The best layout I have found for Mandarin/English dictionary
Clear Large Type (somewhere around 10 to 12 point font size)
Chinese Characters are easy to read

Very basic vocabulary, and is missing a number of important words

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