Oxford Hachette French Dictionary
Oxford University Press – £35.00
It’s been a while since I last reviewed a dictionary – perhaps the best part of two years – but in endeavouring to do so, I am once again reminded in how very involved and complicated the assimilation of a dictionary must (truly) be. The analyitcal construction and finding out alone, would surely be enough to send one into grammatical spasms of re-accuring, nightmarish hell.
After all, so much is obviously taken for granted, which in and of itself, may marginally explain why ”this dictionary is the fruit of six years’ sustained co-operation between two of the world’s foremost reference publishers.”
To be sure, there’s a certain confidence to be gleaned from this Oxford Hachette French Dictionary as for whatever reason(s); one instinctivelly feels one is in more than capable hands while leafing through its 910,000 words, phrases and translations.
That Oxford (University Press) dictionaries are supposedly ”among the world’s most trusted,” might go some way in further substantiating this confidence – as might what the publishers themselves have written in the Preface to this fourth edition: ”This new edition has been driven by two priorities. Firstly, the opportunity has been taken to update the dictionary’s coverage in specialist and general vocabulary. This process has included adding many new words, additional senses of existing words, and the revision of existing entries. The opportunity has also been taken to enhance the dictionary’s coverage of EU terminology. Secondly, comprehensive information has been given on the French spelling reform, which is gradually gaining acceptance in France and the other francophone countries.”
With regards the latter point, I am not too aware of the French spelling reform, but it’s good to know it has been both addressed and taken into consideration (”a summary of the main changes is included in the introductory pages. This is followed by a list of the changes affecting individual headwords. All affected headwords in the dictionary have been marked by an asterisk immediately following the headword, or its varient, if there is one”). I say this because whilst living in Germany, I found myself coming up against said country’s spelling reform, time and time and again. Especially as a student still coming to terms with so many differing aspects of the language – grammer in particular, which, as many Germans will readily tell you, can be uber compicated to say the least!
Set right in the middle of this dictionary (and in a slightly different colour) are a number of explanetory notes and pages that partially address spelling reform, along with an array of other issues. These range from Effective French/L’anglais efficace to Difficulties in French/Difficultés de l’anglais; from Varieties of French/Variértés d’anglais to French link words and expressions/Mots et expressions de liaison anglais; from General Correspondence/La correspondance générale to Using the telephone/Le téléphone.
Indeed, this Oxford Hachette French Dictionary is truly grounded in the practical and academic prowess one has come to expect from such a reliable reference source as the Oxford. As a result, it is undoubtadly the one and only book I will be referring to for many years to come.
One of the main reasons being, I trust it explicitly – it therefore, comes highly, highly recommended.