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Old 05-12-2010, 06:26 AM   #31
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Initially, I didn't see much need for a dictionary and was perfectly happy without one on my BeBook. When I got the PocketBook 360 it came with a dictionary function and there were some free downloadable dictionaries available so I loaded them.

I find the ease of being able to look up unusual or archaic/dated words very handy, and have made extensive use of the dictionary function even for modern writing when the author uses some intriguing wording.

As has been mentioned previously, I wouldn't consider it essential, but it is a very nice-to-have feature on any eBook reader.
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:12 AM   #32
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I love my Sony PRS300. The only function I wish it had is a dictionary. If Sony added that feature to a similar size model, I'd scoop it up.
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:28 AM   #33
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Some of us have the advantage of having learned our vocabulary from books rather than TV sitcoms.
Dear me, isn't that patronizing. Perhaps some of us like the dictionary BECAUSE we have learned to appreciate the meanings of words themselves, rather than just figuring it out (more or less) as we go along.

Just as in example--reading one of George R. R. Martin's books (a paper copy, sadly), I came across the word "destrier". I could figure out from context that it was a type of horse. I could figure out from my knowledge of word origins that it was likely to be of French origin and pronounced "dess-tree-ay". But I looked it up 'cause I wanted to know the details. I'm a horse nut and it's very, very rare that I come across an equestrian-related word I don't know. Found out that it is a term used to describe a war horse (which, yes, I was able to guess from the context, but it was nice to know for sure). I also found out that it is NOT pronouced the way I thought it was.

I have a fine vocabularly, thank you very much. One that having a very accessible dictionary helps me to expand, because I don't pretend to know all the words there are to know.

Regarding fictional words (as in A Clockwork Orange), figuring out that sort of thing is part of the immersion process into the author's world. It's a different issue altogether. I do wish massive multi-character, multi-plotline books (like Mr. Martin's) would have the ability to click on names and places and be taken to a brief, spoiler-free bio or description.
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Old 05-12-2010, 03:37 PM   #34
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Oh worldwalker, I bet Finnegan's Wake was a walk in the park for a savant like you. Next time please try to be less presumptuous. I was merely stating that its a great feature for some of us poor souls who actually like to be sure about the meaning of a word, and maybe familiarize ourselves with the different context and so on.
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Old 05-12-2010, 08:35 PM   #35
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I love the dictionary function and since I've owned readers with and without I really prefer to have a dictionary. Even if I know the meaning, it's great to look up pronunciation. I can't tell you now many words I learned the meaning from books and then later found I was pronouncing them wrong. I blame that on how I learned to read, no phonetics but rather simply memorizing words.
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Old 05-12-2010, 08:52 PM   #36
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I assume many folks are familiar with the scene where Blackadder meets Doctor Johnson who has just written the first dictionary - it's quite funny and relevant to this thread. Oddly enough I used to work in the building next door to Johnson's house on Fleet Street.
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Old 05-13-2010, 03:10 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by GrouchoM View Post
Oh worldwalker, I bet Finnegan's Wake was a walk in the park for a savant like you. Next time please try to be less presumptuous. I was merely stating that its a great feature for some of us poor souls who actually like to be sure about the meaning of a word, and maybe familiarize ourselves with the different context and so on.
And why do you think I'm not familiar with the meaning of a word?

You said you made a list of 200 words you didn't know the meaning of in David Copperfield. I'm sorry, but that's not a problem that someone with a strong reading vocabulary would have. Take it as you wish. I couldn't name any person on this season's American Idol; I suppose to some people that's a very serious lapse in cultural knowledge. But I can read David Copperfield -- or most other books -- without needing a dictionary, or compiling multi-page lists of words I don't understand.

As for Finnegan's Wake, it's not written in English. It just looks like English. And I don't think anyone has ever actually read it, least of all the stuffed shirts who pontificate about how Important and Great and Literary it is, because they know nobody else will read enough of the dratted thing to prove them wrong.

Am I being snobbish about vocabulary? Perhaps I am. But this is a place for people who read and who love books. It's not a place where I would expect to see someone admitting without any trace of shame -- even, it might appear, boasting about -- their inability to understand hundreds of words in a not particularly complicated book which is often assigned to middle school or high school students.

I'd also like to point out that you were the one who started with the snide, sarcastic remarks, like "So people who don't need a dictionary, I'm assuming you know the meaning of every word in the English language?" And you threw in a few assumptions about our reading ability and choices: "...a dictionary would be a prerequisite if you're reading something from the 19th Century or older." You try to insult me by implying that I'm lying about not needing to have a dictionary to look up the big words when I read (as you apparently do), and that I must only read books that are within some limited modern vocabulary, and then you complain when I reply in the same manner?

I'm sure there are plenty of people who need dictionaries when they read. I do not happen to be one of them. Neither, apparently, are some of the other people in this discussion. I gave my opinion, not even directed at you, that dictionaries on ebook readers are just thrown in there to justify a higher price tag. Feel free to disagree, but if you get snide about it, I'll give you the same back with interest. I cannot comprehend how someone in a readers' forum can be proud of having difficulty reading and cast aspersions on people who say they don't.
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Old 05-13-2010, 07:14 AM   #38
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I wonder how many of us, when we were growing up, pronounced words incorrectly until, to our horror (usually at school during a reading session), we discovered we were getting them wrong. I'd like to start with a couple of mine and I invite others to add to the list.

My first (at least, the first one that I felt embarrassed about) was 'pursuit' that I had pronounced 'purswit'. I've just looked up the pronunciation (in my weighty Chambers Dictionary paper version that I couldn't live without) and I was surprised to discover that it has two pronunciations 'pursoot' and 'pursyute'. I wonder if this is an English-English/American-English variant.

The other mis-pronunciation was 'misled', which I read as 'mizzled'.

Bike, I too am a lover of Blackadder - surely it was the most influential comedy series ever (influential, that is, for budding historians, since the accuracy of the contextual content, and, in most cases, the characterisation, was of such a high level).

MJ

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Old 05-13-2010, 07:43 AM   #39
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I also thought Blackadder was quite good for livening up history - I was going to show it to my kids (10 and 13) to try and make them a bit more more interested. I started watching the WWI series and thought it might get too embarrassing to try and explain all the humour. Perhaps I'll just throw the DVDs in their direction and tell them to work it out for themselves.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:05 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by mike_bike_kite View Post
I also thought Blackadder was quite good for livening up history - I was going to show it to my kids (10 and 13) to try and make them a bit more more interested. I started watching the WWI series and thought it might get too embarrassing to try and explain all the humour. Perhaps I'll just throw the DVDs in their direction and tell them to work it out for themselves.
The third series is a bit easier for kids, I suppose...

In topic: even if I can quite easily infer the meaning of a word, I still think having a dictionary is an important feature. Also, it depends on a language; languages have twists and turns, and dictionaries are the tools to work around them.

Example? My first language is Italian, and I once had to explain to the boss (whose first language is French) that you can say "produrre un documento" in the Latin sense (not just producing, making a document; it also means showing it- usually to an authority). All that bark (I'm not a slag, I just have a larger knowledge of my language than he has, and that's natural, for Pete's Sake!) for the lack of the check-the-dictionary reflex (like French says, le bon reflexe!).
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Old 05-13-2010, 10:15 AM   #41
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You see, back before someone invented "phonics" and taught children to read by teaching them to sound out the word, then figure out which word from their speaking vocabulary matched it, we were taught to understand the written word, not its sound. We learned to deconstruct words down to their roots, to pick up clues from context, and so on. That way, unlike today, our reading vocabulary could be much greater than our speaking vocabulary. We weren't limited by just the words we had heard and had explained to us; in fact, it used to be common for a well-read person to make goofy mistakes in trying to pronounce a word, because they'd read it for years but never heard it spoken. Now, of course, that doesn't happen; people don't understand any word they can't pronounce. But it must be a horrible way to live, forever limited by turning written words into sounds and hoping one has heard the sound before, or having to carry a dictionary to understand one's own language.
Of course, one could argue that this speaks to the deficiency of the English language itself. I mean, in Arabic (and Hindi, for that matter), you don't need to learn "spelling." With very few exceptions, words are spelled how they sound. There are clear guidelines for the formation of words from the trilateral roots (there being several basic verbal 'forms' and simple rules for deriving others). Arabic evolved as a language with a very strong oral tradition; writing came later and was matched to the needs of the spoken words. I think it has a lot to do with the hybrid character of English; with so many languages from which to draw vocabulary and grammar, it would too much to ask for a consistent system of spelling. Urdu has a similar problem: there are numerous letters that are phonetically the same but quite distinct in the written Urdu script. You have to know the word in order to write it down correctly. I mean, how else would you know the name "Maz" is actually spelled "Mu'adh"? It can make using an Urdu dictionary quite difficult when you only have a spoken word or Romanized transliteration to go on.

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Old 05-13-2010, 10:22 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael J Hunt View Post
I wonder how many of us, when we were growing up, pronounced words incorrectly until, to our horror (usually at school during a reading session), we discovered we were getting them wrong. I'd like to start with a couple of mine and I invite others to add to the list.

My first (at least, the first one that I felt embarrassed about) was 'pursuit' that I had pronounced 'purswit'. I've just looked up the pronunciation (in my weighty Chambers Dictionary paper version that I couldn't live without) and I was surprised to discover that it has two pronunciations 'pursoot' and 'pursyute'. I wonder if this is an English-English/American-English variant.

The other mis-pronunciation was 'misled', which I read as 'mizzled'.

Bike, I too am a lover of Blackadder - surely it was the most influential comedy series ever (influential, that is, for budding historians, since the accuracy of the contextual content, and, in most cases, the characterisation, was of such a high level).

MJ
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Old 05-13-2010, 10:30 AM   #43
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I used to pronounce 'bourgeois' as 'boorgose'.

I've noticed that many of my students have a habit (which I correct whenever possible) of pronouncing "southern" as "south-urn" instead of "suthern."
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Old 05-13-2010, 10:54 AM   #44
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Old 05-13-2010, 11:13 AM   #45
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In a lot of threads I read that people consider having a dictionary in their ereader a necessary item. I don't happen to have one in mine and I don't miss it at all; I rarely have to look up words when I'm reading to begin with.

So I was wondering, for those of you who mainly just read books in your own language, how often do you really have to look up words? I can understand the need for dictionary translation when you're reading something in a language other than your native one, but for everyday reading, is a dictionary really such a critical item?
Having a dictionary when reading to look up words you've never seen or aren't sure of but can infer the meaning from context is excellent for expanding your vocabulary. When I read a real book, I always highlight new words and the page number they are on for later reference in compiling a personal dictionary. Having this function digitized on a reader is fantastic. Yes you can "get by" without, but not if the goal for reading is not only to entertain but to educate.
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