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Old 04-22-2008, 12:49 PM   #1
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What need for dictionary?

I was curious why many people think a built-in dictionary is a selling feature for bookreader devices?

To me, it just represents increased cost that I wouldn't appreciate (cost to license the dictionary, cost for more memory to hold it, cost to develop the UI/indexing for it).

I read mostly Gutenberg and other free books, and I can't remember the last time I came across a word I didn't recognize. Assuming we are all avid readers (and we must be to consider paying a few hundred dollars for a book reading device) surely we have a wide enough vocabulary to require very, very few dictionary references.

The only application I see is for multi-lingual dictionaries, where one reads in a foreign or less familiar language.
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Old 04-22-2008, 01:08 PM   #2
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Your command of the language must be better than mine, because I hardly ever read a book that does not include at least a few words that I look up in my dictionary.

Now most of the time, I can figure out what the word means based on the context in which it is used. Before I had the Cybook, which allows me to look words up while I am reading, I often just went with what I thought the word meant. But now I look the word up. Most of the time, my initial thought about the meaning of the word is fairly accurate, but there are some subtle nuances that I would have missed out on if I had not looked the word up.

I remember many years ago looking for a comprehensive electronic dictionary I could carry around with me so I can easily check words that I was unsure of when I read. I never found a very good electronic dictionary - the one that I eventually purchased really did not include most of the words I looked up and I wound up playing hang man with it more than using it for its intended purpose.

I simply love, love, love, the dictionary lookup option on the Cybook!
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Old 04-22-2008, 01:22 PM   #3
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I find it very hard to learn adjective from context so i really like to be able to lookup some words that for a native speaker probably is not problematic. I have also notice that you guess wrong often. I long thought that bemused was similar to amused in meaning. I also thought that nonplussed meant not satisfied when it actually means perplexed.

Some other words I have looked up (I wrote them down): obnubilate, mendacious, opossum, akimbo, slovely, inchoate, confabulation, pulchritude, persiflage, parturient, sycophancy, deciduous, phatic, marigold, felching, vicarious, cuckold...

I have not the faintest idea if these are word every native speaker know or not.
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Old 04-22-2008, 01:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radius View Post
I was curious why many people think a built-in dictionary is a selling feature for bookreader devices?

To me, it just represents increased cost that I wouldn't appreciate (cost to license the dictionary, cost for more memory to hold it, cost to develop the UI/indexing for it).

I read mostly Gutenberg and other free books, and I can't remember the last time I came across a word I didn't recognize. Assuming we are all avid readers (and we must be to consider paying a few hundred dollars for a book reading device) surely we have a wide enough vocabulary to require very, very few dictionary references.

The only application I see is for multi-lingual dictionaries, where one reads in a foreign or less familiar language.
My main love is 19th century novels, and in those one comes across lots of words that are NOT in common use today, largely connected with things like dress, and "technical vocabulary" associated with horse-drawn transport, for example.

Yes, one can generally make a reasonable guess at what these words mean, but I find that it enriches the reading experience enormously to be able to look up their precise definitions.

Eg, WITHOUT looking in a dictionary, could you tell me what the difference between a "Chaise", a "Phaeton", and a "Gig" are? They are all types of horse-drawn carriages, but what precisely is the difference between them?

In "Oliver Twist", when we first meet Bill Sykes, he is wearing a "belcher". What is a "belcher" and why is it called that?

In "King Solomon's Mines", Allan Quatermain stumbles at night on a herd of "quagga". What is a "quagga"?

I couldn't answer any of these questions without a dictionary. The excellent Unabridged Chambers dictionary I use on my Gen3 told me what all these words meant at the click of a button.

If I was reading a paper book I certainly wouldn't bother to stop and look these things up - I'd just say "OK, a quagga is obviously some sort of animal" and move on. The fact it's so EASY to look up words on the Gen3, though, means that I will take the trouble to look up any word I'm unsure of, and then makes things so much better.
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Old 04-22-2008, 01:28 PM   #5
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I agree with the Prof, though I must admit I did not expect to use it. I purchased the eBookwise, which included a dictionary, and I installed it while I was playing with the features of my new device, and expected I would delete it shortly. I even forgot about it for a while.

Eventually I came across a word I thought I knew, but had never seen it used that way, and I remembered the dictionary. Two clicks later, I was a big fan of the feature, and I have used it many times since.

I do agree it can be an unnecessary expense, which is why I would prefer the devices include the functionality, but not the license for the dictionary itself. Users can buy the dictionary if they think they will use it. More to the point, they can buy the dictionary that fits their need. That is how it has worked with at least some of the software readers (Mobi and eReader, that I know of).

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Old 04-22-2008, 01:37 PM   #6
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I do agree it can be an unnecessary expense, which is why I would prefer the devices include the functionality, but not the license for the dictionary itself. Users can buy the dictionary if they think they will use it. More to the point, they can buy the dictionary that fits their need. That is how it has worked with at least some of the software readers (Mobi and eReader, that I know of).

Jack
That's the way it works with the Gen3, and I prefer it too. It allows one to choose whether one wants a dictionary of British or American English, for example, or even to buy specialist dictionaries such as dictionaries of art or history.
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Old 04-22-2008, 01:41 PM   #7
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I am one of those reading mainly in a foreign language (English) and am quite happy to have a integrated dictionary.

If you don't want a dictionary, you don't have to put one on your reader. Like that you can reduce the cost of that feature (no license cost, no used memory). The Mobipocket software already had this feature before it was ported to E-Ink devices. The cost for keeping it was probably not that high. Leaves the cost for developing the UI. *shrug*

I might be biased but I see why this is seen as a positive feature especial by companies from the non English speaking part of the world.
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Old 04-22-2008, 01:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tompe View Post
Some other words I have looked up (I wrote them down): obnubilate, mendacious, opossum, akimbo, slovely, inchoate, confabulation, pulchritude, persiflage, parturient, sycophancy, deciduous, phatic, marigold, felching, vicarious, cuckold...

I have not the faintest idea if these are word every native speaker know or not.
That's an interesting collection of words! English is my native language, but I am familiar with only about half of them, but have you mistyped one of them? (slovely...should this be slovenly?)
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Old 04-22-2008, 02:01 PM   #9
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I can get most words from context if I'm not familiar with them but sometimes I hit a word I think I know but I suspect the author is using it in a more nuanced way. I'm glad to be able to quickly look it up without breaking the rhythm of my reading. Reading paper books, I rarely bothered to stop reading and go get my dictionary and I certainly didn't lug it around with me when I was out of the house. I certainly enjoyed reading anyway, but it's a richer experience being able to quickly indulge my curiosity like that. Of course with the Kindle I also have Wikipedia and web searching for references, historical facts and such. Sometimes I'm familiar with the subject and want more depth. Other times I'm not familiar at all. I'm fairly well educated but not to the point where I don't see value in reference materials. I have a bit more to learn.

Besides, there are lots of people out there that may need that feature more than you like students and folks reading in a new language. I figure over the lifetime of the reader, this feature is not adding much cost and could gain them many more customers.
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Old 04-22-2008, 02:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tompe View Post
I find it very hard to learn adjective from context so i really like to be able to lookup some words that for a native speaker probably is not problematic. I have also notice that you guess wrong often. I long thought that bemused was similar to amused in meaning. I also thought that nonplussed meant not satisfied when it actually means perplexed.

Some other words I have looked up (I wrote them down): obnubilate, mendacious, opossum, akimbo, slovely, inchoate, confabulation, pulchritude, persiflage, parturient, sycophancy, deciduous, phatic, marigold, felching, vicarious, cuckold...

I have not the faintest idea if these are word every native speaker know or not.
Looking at this brings to mind a feature that I think would be great for a reader aimed at students: it could keep a list of words the student looked up for their own future study as well as to go into some stats to help teachers.

Edit: I just noticed this is my 666th post. It's the post of the beast! \m/
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Old 04-22-2008, 02:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack B Nimble View Post
Eventually I came across a word I thought I knew, but had never seen it used that way, and I remembered the dictionary. Two clicks later, I was a big fan of the feature, and I have used it many times since.
I agree whole-heartily!

I *think* I don't need it, but when I *think* I need it, I'm glad I have it!

Nothing worse than second guessing yourself, only to find you've guessed wrong...
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Old 04-22-2008, 02:29 PM   #12
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My main love is 19th century novels, and in those one comes across lots of words that are NOT in common use today, largely connected with things like dress, and "technical vocabulary" associated with horse-drawn transport, for example.

Eg, WITHOUT looking in a dictionary, could you tell me what the difference between a "Chaise", a "Phaeton", and a "Gig" are? They are all types of horse-drawn carriages, but what precisely is the difference between them?

I couldn't answer any of these questions without a dictionary. The excellent Unabridged Chambers dictionary I use on my Gen3 told me what all these words meant at the click of a button.
Well... I have exactly the same problem. Just now I'm reading The Pickwick Papers (by the way, many, many thanks for this beatiful ebook, HarryT). I'm not a native english speaker, and if that terms are difficult for you, you can imagine what they are for me!

HarryT... can you give more information about this dictionary? I googled it but didn't find anything useful.

Obnubilate, mendacious, opossum, akimbo, slovely, inchoate, confabulation, pulchritude, persiflage, parturient, sycophancy, deciduous, phatic, marigold, felching, vicarious, cuckold....

Nice list of words! I can guess some of them because of their latin origin (and the similarity to the Spanish ones): obnubilate, mendacious, inchoate, confabulation, pulchritude, parturient...

Regards,
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Old 04-22-2008, 02:38 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by radius View Post
I was curious why many people think a built-in dictionary is a selling feature for bookreader devices?

To me, it just represents increased cost that I wouldn't appreciate (cost to license the dictionary, cost for more memory to hold it, cost to develop the UI/indexing for it).
Buy a Sony PRS-505. It does not come with a dictionary and if you buy one it will not support it.

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Old 04-22-2008, 03:43 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by tompe View Post
Some other words I have looked up (I wrote them down): obnubilate, mendacious, opossum, akimbo, slovely, inchoate, confabulation, pulchritude, persiflage, parturient, sycophancy, deciduous, phatic, marigold, felching, vicarious, cuckold...

I have not the faintest idea if these are word every native speaker know or not.
I have to admit, I would have had to look up obnubilate. Now I'm googling around trying to figure out where you read that
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Old 04-22-2008, 04:15 PM   #15
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My main love is 19th century novels, and in those one comes across lots of words that are NOT in common use today, largely connected with things like dress, and "technical vocabulary" associated with horse-drawn transport, for example.
I could see that. My love is pulp so I generally enjoy authors from about mid-century onwards (eg Edgar Allen Poe, H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, "Doc" Smith) and I occasionally find words that I don't understand, especially, as you point out, with Haggard where I am displaced in geography as well as in time.

But I think I would prefer on-line searching to just dictionary lookup. For example, eReader Pro gives you Merriam-Webster's Pocket Dictionary and I have to wonder if they have a definition for "belcher" there. They don't seem to in the on-line version.

I guess the dictionary for the Cybook is more comprehensive.
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