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Duden Oxford English-Polish Illustrated Dictionary

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Genre: Encyclopedia / Reference - Dictionary / ISBN:9788321411392 Publisher: Duden Oxford

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      19.03.2012 12:21
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      Polish in Pictures for adult learners

      Duden Oxford English-Polish Illustrated Dictionary


      Since my move to Krakow in Poland around 5 months ago I have been endlessly trying to learn the Polish language. This is by no means an easy task and because of this I am now a member of a couple of language websites and also own a few books to help me along the way. One of the books I have been using is the Duden Oxford English-Polish Illustrated Dictionary.

      The Duden Oxford English-Polish Illustrated Dictionary is a hardback book and as it sounds, a dictionary but unlike other language dictionaries this isn't simply a book with a list of words, their translations and meanings. This is a dictionary with very detailed pictures as well as the usual word lists.

      Now, for me personally, the last time I used a dictionary with pictures I was probably around 7 years old and at the time I also probably didn't realise just how good learning from pictures is for remembering things. Fast forward 22 years and here I am sitting with another picture dictionary.

      The dictionary is not like a child's picture dictionary and doesn't contain child-like pictures, instead it contains very detailed and concise diagrams of almost everything you can imagine! The diagrams are mainly black and white line drawings, the exception to this is the human body section which has been done in colour and even more detail. Next to every item or detail on the picture is a number, this number is listed either below the picture or on the opposite page depending on the size of the picture. In the list you will find an item description in both English and Polish. The English is written in a standard font and the Polish in italics... just in case you don't know which is which!

      The attention to detail in this dictionary is actually amazing! For example, one of the pictures is set in a hairdressers salon. The picture is drawn very clearly to make it pretty obvious what most items are. On this particular picture 39 items have been numbered, they include the obvious items like shampoo bottle - butelka z szamponem and wig - peruka as well as more detailed items like bowl containing bleach - miseczka do rozrabiania srodka rozjasniajacego (please note this isn't perfect as I cannot add the accents to the letters as they are not on my computer) This kind of detail is continued throughout the book and in my opinion is a lot more useful than a normal dictionary where you would just get the word and various translations depending on the sentence or setting it is being used in.

      Almost all of the pictures in this dictionary are of a scene rather than one particular item. There are a lot of everyday scenes such as the hairdressers and shopping, but there are also really random scenes that I would never even thought of like in a quarry or at the blacksmiths. Although these are not every day scenes and probably scenes I will never encounter in everyday life I still think it is fantastic that they have been included in the book because who knows, I may not directly encounter these scenes but you never know when I might end up in a conversation about them or something in them.

      The book has almost 400 pictures to work your way through and it is a massive 677 pages long plus around 150 extra pages at the back containing an index. At the start of the book there are two introduction pages, one in Polish and one in English, this is followed by a very brief description of abbreviations used in the book and an 8 page contents section also written in both English and Polish.

      The cover of the book both front and back is written in Polish as the book was made and published in Poland, however everything inside the book is written in both languages which therefore makes this book very versatile as it can be used for both English speakers learning Polish and Polish speakers learning English.

      I think the only thing missing from this dictionary is maybe a section on how to pronounce certain letters. For me this isn't too much of an issue as I do have other books which tell me this, however for someone who only owns this book they may struggle as the Polish alphabet contains some letters that aren't in the English one and also some of the letters are pronounced totally different in Polish to English.

      I find this book incredibly easy to use and find what I am looking for. The contents page is in both English and Polish and is separated into different categories starting with Atoms and the Universe and covering everything from animals and plants right through to trades, crafts and industry so I have no problems looking for the scene or setting I am after.

      All of the text in the book is very clear and easy to understand and I find that the use of pictures rather than just words alone helps me to remember words and items a lot easier than just reading words alone. The dictionary doesn't teach me everything I need to learn but it is definitely one of the best purchases I have made towards my Polish language studies.

      The Duden Oxford English-Polish Illustrated Dictionary was first published in 1994, it is printed by Wiedza Powszechna, Warsaw and the English part of the dictionary has been written with the co-operation of Oxford University Press, UK. I bought my copy of this book at a bookstore here in Krakow, I paid the equivalent of around £25 for it. It can be purchased online from www.alejka.pl but the website is in Polish so your best way of getting a copy in England is probably through good old eBay using a worldwide search, at the moment there are currently no copies on there, but I know they are on there occasionally as I did a bit of price comparison before I bought this myself.


      Thanks for reading! :)

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