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Book - The Welsh Learners Dictionary - Paperback

Book - The Welsh Learners Dictionary - Paperback

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ISBN: 9780862433635 (0862433630)

Publication Date: 13 September 2018
Publisher: Y Lolfa
Edited by Eiry Jones

Format: Paperback, 174x121 mm, 256 pages

Language: Bilingual (Welsh and English)

A Welsh-English, English-Welsh dictionary for Welsh learners, ideal for evening classes, schools and tourists, comprising over 20,000 words and phrases, pronunciations, mutations and grammatical explanations, words in context and place-names. First published in 1998.

A review from, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council:-

The Welsh Learner’s Dictionary is a very welcome arrival. With its advent, learners should be spared the confusion and frustration I experienced when first using a Welsh dictionary. It is helpful to remind the learner that the Welsh and English alphabets are different, because learners tend to forget this fundamental fact in the excitement of reading Welsh for the first time.

Similarly, it is helpful to provide warnings about the potential for spelling change when words are subject to mutation. The Welsh Learner’s Dictionary does so by providing information at the start of each letter section in the Welsh to English dictionary. The usefulness of this convention will depend on the individual learner’s willingness to return to the head of the relevant letter section for information. Users need to become perusers if they are to get maximum benefit. This is true, of course, of any dictionary and any dictionary user.

The contextualised explanations and generous examples are helpful; grammatical examples accompany straightforward lexical information. An additional bonus for the learner is the inclusion of common phrases alongside word definitions, rather than in an indigestible lump somewhere at the end of the dictionary.

The grammar summary at the beginning of the dictionary is helpful, although I feel that the literary Welsh forms are out of place here. Given the limitations that govern a dictionary of this size, it seems to me that this is information unlikely to be of immediate use to the novice, and that the space could have been used more profitably. It might have been more of a comfort to learners to find the more colloquial contractions, e.g. ro’n i, alongside the fuller form roeddwn i. By the time they are ready to tackle the find of text, which uses literary Welsh, learners, surely, will have outgrown a dictionary of this scope.

I am also undecided about the ubiquitous use of m and f in both Welsh and English sections. I can see the logic of alerting the learner quickly and straightforwardly to gender, but wonder whether it might have been possible to include the Welsh forms, g and b, at least in the Welsh to English dictionary, alongside their English equivalents. It could be argued that it is part of the job of a learner’s dictionary to teach lexicographical terminology.

I don’t want to appear churlish by criticising omissions of vocabulary. What to include and what to leave out must be relatively arbitrary decisions. If learners find omissions, then this is the price they pay for mercifully clear type, reasonable spacing and satisfying paper thickness. (These things matter!)

I am happy to recommend The Welsh Learner’s Dictionary. I wish it had been available when I needed it most.

Vivienne Saye

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