Paper vs Electronic Dictionaries
Thread poster: Silvy Codde

Silvy Codde  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
Member (2004)
English to Flemish
+ ...
Oct 13, 2004

I am considering buying some electronic dictionaries in addition to the paper ones I use at the moment. But I am wondering: will this investment be worth the money?

Do you have any experience with working with paper/electronic dictionaries? What are the pros and cons of both methods? Or do you combine them?

Are electronic dictionaries really such a time-saver? Do they combine well with a word processor and CAT software such as Trados?

Thanks in advance for your answers,



Jørgen Madsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
English to Danish
+ ...
I vote for electronic ones Oct 13, 2004

I always buy electronic versions if available, and I have about 9 different electronic dictionaries, which I am very pleased with.

An obvious disadvantage is the price, since electronic versions are typically more expensive than paper versions. But they also have important advantages, e.g. quicker look-up time, "truncated" searches (search for "hammer" and get "air hammer", "bench hammer", "claw hammer" etc.)

With paper versions I (and maybe others as well) tend to use the dictionary only when I absolutely have to (since it takes more time and effort).

With electronic ones it's much easier to check up on a word if you're in doubt. Sometimes I'm surprised to find additional meanings of a word I think I knew well.

To me it's important to constantly use dictionaries to keep expanding your knowledge and familiarity with the source language.

In summary: IMHO They're well worth the extra cost.

icon_smile.gif Jørgen


Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:46
English to Russian
+ ...
I think there is no necessity to buy such dicrionaries Oct 13, 2004

It is always possible to find such dictionary online.
At least I had no problems to find the dictionaries for scandinavian languages. Today there are plenty of free resources in the web.
And they are really great!


Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:46
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
There are good and not so good ones Oct 13, 2004

Of course, when there are free online dictionaries I use them too, but there are some that you won't find.

I have in my favourites the Merriam Webster, the Real Academia Española, the GDT and EuroDicAutom. I often use the electronic dictionaries of Power translator, very useful for common language and several languages all in one. I bought the Grand Robert électronique which in paper would have 7 or 9 volumes and be very heavy but the only problem with it is that it must be in the driver in order to be used, installing it isn't enough, and that's a problem when you need to have another CD for regular use. It's not my case, so I always keep it inside. If I had several dictionaries with the same inconvenient it would be difficult to use them. I also have a very good paper bilingual dictionary but I really use it when I have tried to find the translation in all the electronic resources available, including the glossaries and haven't found it.
Yes, you spare time if they are ready to use (not if you need to take it out of its box and put into the driver).

I'd say don't buy for buying, study your needs and buy electronic dictionaries.


[Edited at 2004-10-14 10:37]


Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:46
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
I use e-dictionaries as well Oct 13, 2004

For instance, I have bought paper copies of SOED, Merriam Webster, Random House, etc., many years ago, but now use only the electronic versions of these dictionaries. In most cases the prices of electronic dictionaries are much more cheaper than the paper ones.
However, there is only one disadvantage of these dictionaries; all these e-dictionaries are programs which may cause conflicts or not work in newer versions of say windows. For example, I have bought NODE (New Oxford Dictionary of English) and it did work at the beginning. However, I was using interner explorer 5.0 or 5.5 then, and when I updated to 6.0 it failed to work. After several months (or years) Oxford updated the program and sent me the new program on CD. In that case the problem was solved, I was lucky that it was an Oxford Dictionary. However, you may not be so lucky with other dictionaries.


Selcuk Akyuz

Christine Andersen wrote:

In short, you need both kinds.

[Edited at 2004-10-18 10:40]


Robin Salmon (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:46
German to English
+ ...
Practical reasons for using electronic dictionaries Oct 14, 2004

I have paper Collins-Robert and Harrap French dictionaries, as well as French business dictionaries.

I have two German technical electronic dictionaries and "EcoMate 2000", which is a Belgian-produced FrenchEnglish business dictionary. Itis quite good but the problem with it is that it has not been updated even as far as Windows 2000 and I have to use it in MS Access.

I say "practical reasons" because a paper dictionary can be large and unwieldy. I put them on a coffee-table beside the computer and use them when I cannot find something in the electronic dictionaries. Of course, I occasionally drop them on the floor which does not do much for their health! I hold them on my lap while using them, which makes it much less cumbersome to use an electronic dictionary.

I find there are some great online dictionaries like Laixicon and Leo (both French and German now). Termium is good for French but is there is a subscription to pay.

Generally speaking, I like the electronic dictionaries (except for the Cornelsen DEEN technical dictionary which was a waste of money).


Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
German to Spanish
Virtual CD Oct 14, 2004

Claudia Iglesias wrote:

the only problem with it is that it must be in the CD player in order to be used, installing it isn't enough,...


With Virtual CD ( or any other drive emulator you can "install" so many CDs as you want.
So you can use all your CDS as virtual drives, Not necessary to change the CDs


[Edited at 2004-10-14 16:19]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The ones you use all the time are a real help Oct 14, 2004

I probably have roughly the same ones as Jørgen - there are some very good ones on the Danish market, and I agree with everything he says.

But electronic dictionaries cannot replace the ones with graphics and I prefer not to have too many. I have 4-5 that I use all the time and a couple with the problem Claudia mentions, that the CD must be in the drive. (And must be taken out again, or your computer may behave strangely next time you start up!)

The dictionaries do not interfere with Trados - they run independently.

I collect dictionaries and reference books from second hand shops as well as new ones, and with English we are so lucky - books are far less expensive over there. I have dozens of them with graphics and drawings that will never be as good online (or not in my time, but I'm old enough to be a grandmother!) Many of them are far more detailed and reliable than the on-line glossaries on the Internet. Some of them are even fascinating as bedtime reading!

I make a point of sitting properly on my chair while I use them as well - relaxing my 'mouse grip' and avoiding back trouble.

In short, you need both kinds. Have fun!


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