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Kent M. Suarez
- Publié sur Amazon.com
(re: orig. paperback ed.) When you hear Chinese, this is THE ideal book to find the term you heard, by looking up the pinyin alphabetically. It is reasonably complete, but is missing some common terms and contains some obscure words. Overall, it is extremely useful, carefully compiled and proofread, and a good value. It balances completeness and conciseness quite well, so it's a great paperback to carry around, if a tad heavy; the superbly improved and more complete desk reference version (ABC Comprehensive CED, reviewed separately) is highly recommended for your study desk.
A big bonus is that all terms with the same or similar pronunciation are grouped together, so you can compare them and make a more informed guess as to what you probably heard. The most common term is often marked with an asterisk -- very helpful! The pinyin lookup is not as useful when reading unknown characters, although radical indices *are* included, so, contrary to another review, you *can* look up characters when you don't know the pronunciation. (And compared to some other books like Harbaugh's Chinese Characters: A genealogy and dictionary, the definitions are much more complete and professional.) But when reading characters I know how to pronounce, I find this ABC is the fastest way to find definitions of compounds, so my three copies are well worn.
The compound entries are in simplified char. only. Single character entries (which DO exist, contrary to an earlier review) are in both forms, which suffices for users of traditional characters most of the time; but unfortunately, these do not always include some characters which occur only as part of one or more particular compounds, such as the liao2 in zhi4liao2, to cure or treat (#=tone; don't worry, the ABC has proper tone marks). As a result, there is no way to find out whether this liao has different simplified and traditional forms, or what the latter form is. This has been remedied in the Comprehensive version.
Equally egregious is the failure to properly distinguish between the different traditional forms which share one simplified character; for example the li4 in li4shi3, history and nong2li4, lunar calendar are dealt with jointly as one simplified character, and the same traditional form is shown for both, which is incorrect. Instead, these should be listed as two different char. with the same simplif. form; thus, it fails to show the proper way to write nong2li4 in Taiwan. Again, the Comprehensive rectifies this.
There are some usage examples, albeit not extensive, and in pinyin only. The addition of more examples, more usage notes, and syllabic separation where needed (e.g., is zhengan zheng'an or zhen'gan?) would all be welcome in future editions. There is some slang and many colloquialisms, but not enough of either. Again, the Comprehensive rectifies this.
To some extent, differences in usage between the PRC (e.g., chu1zu1 qi4che1 for taxi) and Taiwan (ji4cheng2che1) are noted, which is greatly welcomed, but there are many more differences which have not been noted, including pronunciation differences, like the PRC's la1ji1 (trash) vs. Taiwan's more colloquial le4se4), or tonal differences, such as the 2nd tone in Taiwan for qi1, period of time. (Yes, the Comprehensive fixes this.) Still, overall, a great book. If you only have 4 Chinese-related dictionaries, this should doubtless be one of them if you'll carry it to class; if it will stay on your desk, invest in the Comprehensive version instead; it's absolutely worth the price!