A high-quality dictionary is a colossal challenge. Since languages live, breathe, and change, antiquated terms must be excised and newly coined words included, definitions must take current usage into account, and editorial dreams of comprehensiveness vie with practical considerations of space. And that's when you're dealing with just one language. In a two-language dictionary such as this English-Spanish/Spanish-English college dictionary by Harper Collins, the task is more than doubled. Not only must both lexicons be evaluated for a scope and contemporary relevance consistent with a sophisticated audience, but the definitions and translations must be appropriate for students still learning Spanish.
It's a tough proposition, but Harper Collins is more than up to the task. With 355,000 entries and translations, the Harper Collins Spanish College Dictionary covers the basic building blocks of the two languages, plus thousands of contemporary technical, political, and business terms--such as karaoke, telemarketing, male menopause, and aromatherapy, downsize, spellchecker, carphone, and junk TV. While some words are translated simply and briefly with one-word or two-word definitions, such as "odioso/a" for "hateful," more complex words, such as "have," merit a full column of idioms, examples, and grammatical constructs. The entry for "head" (cabeza), for example, includes everything from "my head aches" (me duele la cabeza) to "laugh one's head off" (reirse a carcajadas) to "have a head for business" (ser bueno para los negocios).
In addition, a Language Building Supplement contains 85 pages of translation tips, sentence-builder templates, Spanish verbs, and correspondence models, plus numbers, times and dates, weights and measures, and vocabulary for the telephone. This 1,100-page tome provides the tools that can enable you to read, write, and speak correct, up-to-date Spanish. For the money, it would be hard to find a dictionary better suited to the needs of a serious student of Spanish. --Stephanie Gold [via]