My Rating: ★★★☆☆
I have recently bought the All New Edition Larousse’s French-English English-French Dictionary from Amazon.in for a very reasonable price of Rs. 281.00 (including shipping). This bilingual and bidirectional dictionary is published by Simon and Schuster in their Pocket Books series and “manufactured in the USA”. I have bought and used several French monolingual and bilingual dictionaries and they are in my possession in CD or printed versions. But I don’t love to read books or newspapers on the computer. I use the dictionaries on CDs only when I need additional information about a word or a phrase. The printed Le Petit Robert, The New Collins Robert French Dictionary or the Oxford Hachette French Dictionary are all big tomes having 2000 or more pages. They are expensive too. Though these dictionaries are excellent and useful, their proper place is on your reading or writing desk because they are a bit too heavy and relatively unwieldy. I have found them difficult to carry from even one room to the other let alone take them with me while travelling. So, if you read French comfortably seated on a sofa or an armchair or read novels lying on your bed, you would not be able to use those fine, large, hard-bound books of reference effectively and would soon feel the need of a much smaller dictionary to keep near at hand as your first source of reference.
The All New Edition Larousse’s French-English English-French Dictionary is perfect for such a purpose. You can hold and open this paperback dictionary with one hand while your other hand is still holding the newspaper or the book you are reading. It has the appearance of a standard medium-sized paperback novel and is very easy to carry around. Isn’t that convenient? This is a bilingual dictionary with two separate sections for French and English headwords. The dictionary has more than 50,000 entries in both French and English with concise and straightforward definitions. The French-English section has 328 pages whereas the English-French section has 354 pages. There is a list of ‘Abbreviations’ used in the dictionary, a ‘Preface’ in both French and English, explanations of ‘Phonetic Transcriptions’, notes on French verb conjugations and some notes on ‘Numbers’, ‘Dates’, ‘English Irregular Verbs’ as well as ‘Time’. Each headword is in bold with its masculine and feminine forms where relevant and is followed by an indication of its pronunciation in phonetic transcription symbols, part of speech and a couple of phrases involving the word in some cases. The different meanings and nuances of the same headword are separated with a || mark. It is evident from the nature, format and size of the dictionary that the target readers are students of French or English, tourists and casual readers having some interest in a foreign language. This is not an adequate reference book for the serious student and certainly not for the scholars.
You cannot expect to find, within the limits of these 700-odd pages, each and every French or English word that you may need to look up. While using it in the last couple of days, I have not found such words as pléthorique (excessive, overcrowded), ânonnement (faltering or monotonous delivery, although the verb ânonner is there), foute (cast iron), empois (starch), vautrer (to wallow/sprawl), barguignage (gibbering) or viveur (pleasure-seeker) etc. The French word bambin is explained with the informal ‘kiddie’ as its equivalent when the bigger dictionaries have provided such words as ‘child’ or ‘kid’. Because of its limited space, often with many headwords, a single equivalent is provided in the target language. Vivement has ‘quickly/sharply’ as its English equivalents in this dictionary when the word can also mean ‘strongly’ and ‘greatly’. Thus expressional variation on the target language side has not been accounted for extensively in this dictionary.
Despite its obvious spatial limitations, the All New Edition Larousse’s French-English English-French Dictionary may prove to be a handy reference book for the students and the tourists. It may also help the more advanced readers of both French and English to find immediate and ready word reference while reading a newspaper or a novel. But for the more serious language learner however, it is better to have this dictionary along with a more comprehensive monolingual/bilingual dictionary to go to in search of more in-depth knowledge of words.
The dictionary under review has been first published as a Pocket Book in 1996. Larousse owns the copyright of the original dictionary and the year of the copyright is 1996. So users of this dictionary must bear in mind that it is fairly old because two decades mean a long time and many new words have entered the domain of both the English and the French languages since this edition was published.
[All New Edition Larousse’s French-English English-French Dictionary; Pocket Books; Simon & Schuster, Inc.; New York, USA;]