Collins German Dictionary
Harper Collins Publishers
Let’s face it, there are dictionaries and there are dictionaries.
Some are horribly awkward, difficult, off putting and incomprehensively minimalist with regards the actual explanation of what things mean. Others are the complete opposite: clear, concise and simply riddled with inviting information, that’s both easy to follow and easy to digest.
Luckily (and unsurprisingly), this best-selling, bilingual, Complete and Unabridged Collins German Dictionary falls within the sphere of the latter.
Having almost studied German with The Open University – for which this is one of the set books – I opted to study the language in Berlin, which is where I now live. That said, when it comes to acute linguistics, we’re almost all invariably in need of lucid and decipherable explanation in that of our mother tongue. And when it comes to German grammar, which is not only aligned with Latin but is incontestably wretched, dense and exceedingly hard to understand – let alone conjugate – varying strands of English clarification are immeasurably ineluctable.
As is written on the inside of the dictionaries dust jacket: ‘’The purpose of Collins Bilingual Dictionaries is simple: to take the sharpest and truest picture of language so that our users have the most accurate and relevant translations which are based on real language and effectively bridge the gap – both linguistic and cultural – between languages.’’
This it most certainly does. Look up any word in either German or English, and there will be several definitions and examples of what that word means, as well as how, and where it ought to be used in a sentence.
Suffice to say, if a word already has several meanings (Bedeutungs), such as the English word for ‘time’ (i.e. how time flies, time is on our side, all the time, to tell the time, a good time, in/on time, from time to time, a short time, a long time etc), again, each will have its own defined construction; thus enabling the reader to fully construct his or her own comprehension.
At the outset of the dictionary’s 2103 pages, is a comprehensive list of abbreviations, field labels and style labels in both languages, which allows for an immediate understanding as to whether a certain word is accusative or superlative, East German or North American, South German or Northern English, is a reflexive pronoun or falls within the trajectory of the Stock Exchange. Thus allowing the academic, the reader and the merely curious to research with both ease and confidence: ‘’Every month, we feed more data into our database. When new words and phrases emerge, our system is able to recognize the moment of their acceptance into the language, the precise context of their usage, any subtle changes in meaning, then alert Collins lexicographers. This means that Collins dictionaries remain up to date, including the very latest words and terms, which in turn ensures that when you use a Collins dictionary, you are one of the best-informed language users in the world.’’
To be honest, I couldn’t agree more. This Collins German Dictionary does indeed instil a quintessentially vogue vernacular within that of the reader. Thus allowing for a much sought-after, simmering confidence, that’s as equally illusive to promote as it is to define.
What Gretsch is to the world of guitars and Parker is to the world of pens, Collins is to the world of dictionaries.