Saturday, August 6, 2011

English-Korean Dictionary: Berlitz Korean Compact Dictionary

I was studying Korean just now, and instead of using my iph to look up a word (because my phone was in another room charging) i used my actual, physical, hand held copy of a dictionary.
I have to say, it's been a while.. even though it's neatly placed on my desk amongst other dictionaries and references that i own. You would think, if it's close by and easily accessible - one would make use of it. But no. Not for me. Why? Well, i think i just discovered why...

See, especially for a compact dictionary, there's only so much writing that a physical copy can contain. Not only that, but, one of the thing is looking up Korean words in romanisation, as I just discovered, is kind of an odd process.

It's odd because its kind of a back track to reading in Korean? For example, my textbook (behind the dictionary in the pics above) which i'm working off is in Korean. I have to process the Korean word, flip it back to romanisation and get a definition from that. 
Using an online dictionary on the other hand, allow me to simply type the Korean word in to the search bar. Less of the mucking around in English. 

The other thing is, the dictionary also starts off in A for the Korean=>English section (refer to 3rd picture from the top) which makes things a bit confusing when I'm trying to look for a word. Obviously, this is catered for someone learning from English, but once you get the hang of the writing in Korean, that's just kind of messed up. My head keeps having to switch back to English mode while it seems like i've kind of adapted to the Korean alphabetical system. 

Maybe, this type of dictionary layout is great back when i was only just beginning to learn how to read in Korean. But now, at present, I'm not using this as a first option. I'm not trying to say that these type of dictionary are useless, because the translation and example are pretty functional (in my opinion). It's probably just trying to please too many audience all in one and it's sole purpose of a good dictionary is divided. It's like the

English -> Korean targets: those just starting out to read Korean, translation of specific words; thus, vocabs accumulation etc

Korean -> English targets: yet to read Hanguel, but learnt how to read romanisation of Korean words. 

Maybe it's time for me to get a ė˜í•œė‚Žė „. That would probably work better. An English-Korean Dictionary catered for Koreans learning English. 


  1. Great post.Great post.Learning different languages is hard but fun.We were able to grasps the culture of every languages we translate.A lost in Korean translation or any translation should not hinder us to know exactly about one's history and culture.Especially in the ever faster moving world of globalized business, successful information and technology transfer within multinational businesses can make the difference between win or lose.

  2. Hi, Just got my hands on one of those from the library. I agree with you, if you're studying properly Korean, it must be awkward - it did look awkward to me as i kept flicking the pages around looking for the actual Hangul section (well, i thought one half will start with the hangul alphabet as in korean to english and the other half will start with roman letters as in english to korean). But then, if you're just mocking around without any proper lesson plans - I'm learning to read and write Hangul through songs, increasing slowly the speed, and then through the songs, words keep coming back and it's useful to look up at them without waiting for lesson 36 of 3rd year of studies ^_^ and trying to avoid useless google translate... while the naver dictionary is a tad complicated to navigate for a beginner.. great post anyway! cheers!

  3. i saw the pictures you uploaded and i like the way the book is so i am contemplating if i should buy it its in my amazon cart at the moment