Monolingual Or Bilingual Dictionaries

Monolingual Or Bilingual Dictionaries

There are two kinds of dictionaries used when learning languages. Monolingual dictionaries consist definitions of the words in target language. Bilingual dictionaries translate words into the native language of the learner.

English monolingual dictionaries are created by English and American scholars. Famous examples of such dictionaries are Oxford, Longman and Merriam-Webster. Using them is difficult in my experience. Often I read the definition of the word and am not sure if I correctly understand the meaning of the word. Maybe my English is not advanced enough to use it. Reading the definition of the word takes more time and requires more thinking to understand the meaning. The scope of a monolingual dictionary is limited while listening or reading English texts. They are useless when you want to write something yourself, such as this post, and you lack the words you’re looking for.

There are no such problems with bilingual dictionaries. The solution to the problem is that the word’s meaning appears instantly. So, I’m too lazy and I use bilingual dictionaries while learning English. However, the advantage of monolingual dictionaries is that using them allows you to “immerse” yourself so much more into the language. In using such dictionaries, you can sometimes forget about your native language and only think in your target language. Maybe in the future I will achieve the sufficient proficiency to use monolingual dictionaries or overcome laziness to do it.

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4 comments
  1. This is a really thought provoking post. I actually like both types. Sometimes the difference in meaning for two similar words is very small but when you put the wrong one in a sentence it changes everything. I agree that the bilingual dictionaries are easier to use for some things though. One thing I do to make sure I’ve picked the word I need is yo look at it in both sides of the dictionary. For example, if I look up ‘cat’ in the English side of the dictionary and see “gato”, I’ll confirm ln the other side to make sure that “gato” realty is the primary word for cat. Before I learner this, I would often pick the wrong choice (especially if there was more than one definition) and say the wrong thing… Thank you for writing this. It really got me thinking.

    • Lotokot said:

      I very often use bilingual Google Translate and I know that problem with finding best translation of the word. Luckily GT shows different translations of one word, so I often change the main proposal of GT to other more accurate translation depending on context. I think that for such operations bilingual dictionaries are also better.
      Thanks for your comment, glad you enjoyed the post!

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