English Language & LINGUISTI Christina Sanchez-Stockhammer

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Monolingual English dictionaries
Bilingual English/German dictionaries
Monolingual German dictionaries
Special dictionaries, e.g. valency and linguistic terminology
Link collections




It is great to see how much good lexicographic material is available online. Many publishers provide free access to fairly comprehensive versions of their reference works. 

Yet even those sources that should be handled with care (such as wiki-based bilingual dictionaries) can provide a good stimulus for finding a translation equivalent you already know but just cannot remember. 






Monolingual English dictionaries

  Oxford dictionaries   The site www.oxforddictionaries.com combines a vast range of monolingual and bilingual dictionary functions provided by a household name. Currently my favourite.




Needless to tell any learner of English that the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary is a classic - historically, it was even the first real English learner's dictionary.
Now Oxford University Press has made a quite comprehensive electronic version available online.








Its serious competitor, the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, can also be used online. It even contains the pictures - but not the great collocation boxes, which makes it worth getting the CD-Rom if you liked the internet version.








Merriam Webster's online dictionary contains somewhat more complicated definitions, but it has the advantage of giving you the meaning of less frequent words, too. This is because its main target group are native speakers of English. It also offers a thesaurus, which helps you to find synonyms and words related in meaning, and provides etymological information, too. 








The American Heritage Reference Collection, which also addresses a native-speaking or very advanced target group, similarly not only provides you with well-structured lexicographic entries but also with a usage guide that gives you advice on how to write "properly" in terms of grammar, style etc. Even if you do not believe in prescriptivism, you may sometimes want to check. :-)






Unusual monolingual "dictionaries"


The internet pages of large online shops such as Amazon can be used like onomasiological dictionaries (i.e. dictionaries that start with the meaning and lead you to the form). If you are looking for a ' Pürierstab', find your way by first looking under the heading "home", then e.g. "kitchen", and then refining your search by clicking on the links suggested (e.g. food preparation machines). In the end, several pictures of various products with corresponding descriptions may lead you to the conclusion that stick blender is a possible translation.

      Google as a dictionary? Yes: if you have an idea what a particular word may mean, check it in the picture search (which works better, of course, if you are looking for a concrete rather than an abstract concept). Then you will see whether hand blender is a good translation of Pürierstab or not.




Did you know that Wikipedia has links between articles in different languages at the bottom of the navigation bar on the left? By following them and comparing the descriptions, you can not only find a translation equivalent but also check whether it is precise enough for your purposes.






Bilingual English/German dictionaries




Bilingual dictionaries should ideally only be used for inspiration and for finding a translation equivalent that you already know but cannot think of temporarily. 

However, there are situations in which this is not possible. In order to make sure that you have really found the word you were looking for, check it again in a monolingual dictionary (or in the google picture search). This is particularly important in the case of wiki-based dictionaries.







The nice thing about the Collins English/German dictionary is the fact that it was written by professional lexicographers. It contains information on the valency of its lemmas (e.g. whether to use a verb with infinitive to or present participle -ing) and also shows the search term in different typical collocations, together with their translation.







The same is true of the dictionary by PONS. Disambiguating information (e.g. Spitze eines Baumes top vs. Nasenspitze tip) makes it a recommendable choice. In addition, you can also search in a picture dictionary that gives you the English and German parts of a castle, for example.




  Linguee   Linguee is a mixture between a dictionary and a corpus, since it uses bilingual online texts and gives you a large number of English and German sentences containing your word and potential translation equivalents. Great, because you can choose which of the meanings in the German example sentences corresponds to what you are looking for, and because you automatically get the valency structures in the English examples.




Leo is the classic among the wiki-based, user-generated online dictionaries, but the entries' structure and information content could be improved. However, when you click on the <i> box, you get a direct link to Merriam-Websters' definitions, which is nice (but maybe you would prefer to check one of the learners' dictionaries above instead).







Dict.cc is comparable to Leo in its design and has even more links in its <i> box.







Beolingus is provided by the TU Chemnitz. The most interesting thing about this dictionary, which is otherwise comparable to Leo and Dict.cc, is its pool of English/German sentence equivalents, provided by the Goethe-Institut, and which may help you with the formulation of your own text.









Monolingual German dictionaries




In their Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache des 20. Jahrhunderts (DWDS), the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften has linked the six-volume Wörterbuch der deutschen Gegenwartssprache (1952-1977) with information from a balanced, representative corpus of 20th-century German. You can even get collocation statistics for your search terms. In addition, you will find etymological information basen on Wolfgang Pfeifer et al.'s Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Deutschen





German spelling is sometimes mysterious - particularly as far as capitalisation and solid spelling are concerned. What better reference tool could there be than one by Duden itself?





Uni Leipzig


The site www.wortschatz.uni-leipzig.de has almost become a household name, too. It offers not only brief definitions and a semantic classification of search terms, but also their synonyms, antonyms and collocations (based on statistical data).







The dictionary by the famous brothers Grimm (published between 1854 and 1960) is of course not entirely up-to-date - but its online accessibility certainly is. 








You are uncertain whether the Perfekt of winken is gewinkt or gewunken? Then check www.canoo.net.
Not only does this trustworthy site offer you information on the inflection of German words - but also on other aspects of grammar and orthography (in particular comma rules), based on the Amtliche Rechtschreibregeln





The site Grammis, by the Institut für Deutsche Sprache in Mannheim, offers users a comprehensive account of German grammar. For instance, you can find out whether the German prefix -oid produces only adjectives, and what parts of speech it combines with. Grammis also comprises a dictionary of grammatical terminology.














Special dictionaries


Linguistic terminology


The Glossary of linguistic terms by the linguistic association SIL International provides a good overview of general linguistic terminology that directs you to reference works for more detail.

      The University of Utrecht also hosts a nice Dictionary of Linguistics with brief entries. 




Justo Fernández López' Lexikon der Linguistik und Nachbardisziplinen is written in German, as the title suggests. Relying very heavily on Hadumod Bußmann's classic Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft and other reliable sources, it represents a well-structured reference site that usually provides more than a simple definition.

      For terminology from the field of phonetics and phonology, the Speech Internet Dictionary provides definitions, examples and occasionally even sound clips.




Eva Schoenke's Glossar der Textlinguistik is a very well-researched and well-structured German-language glossary of text linguistics terminology. 




  Valency   If you are uncertain whether you may use a specific English word in a particular sentence structure, you now have the opportunity to check in the Erlangen Valency Patternbank, which lists all the valency patterns that were identified for the 511 verbs, 544 adjectives and 274 nouns contained in the Valency Dictionary of English.
Thus you will learn that the adjective alert can indeed be used in the pattern adjective + in_V-ing

The patterns at www.lexchecker.org are less clear than those in the Valency Patternbank, but this is counterbalanced by the fact that you get a large number of examples from the British National Corpus.





The world's most famous English thesaurus is now online, too. 







Have you ever wondered what WYSIWYG means? Find out on this site, which gives you the meaning of more than 750,000 acronyms - even German ones, such as the famous ELSTER (= Elektronische Steuererklärung). 







Gives you an up-to-date account of British English slang words.



Base lexicale 
du français


This is a dictionary link collection with a focus on English and German dictionaries. However, the Base lexicale du français is such a great database that I was unable to omit it. It combines features of French dictionaries and corpora, and it would be extremely desirable to have more references of this type for other languages, too.









Link collections


Erlanger Liste


If the above is not enough for you, go to the so-called Erlanger Liste, a vast link collection (with a focus on German, though) that will provide you with biliingual dictionaries for Indonesian, Russian and many other languages.