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Why using monolingual dictionaries isn’t a good idea

Chinese dictionary, learning Chinese

This is the second part of articles about using monolingual dictionaries for learning Mandarin Chinese. You should read the first part before you continue with this one. In this article, we will focus on why using monolingual dictionaries isn't a very good idea in general.

这是关于使用单语词典学中文的文章的第二部分,在继续阅读这篇之前你可以先看看第一部分。本文里,我们将集中讨论为何使用单语词典总体上而言并非一种好方法。

 

The main problem with monolingual dictionaries is that there are none that are truly aimed at beginner or intermediate students. Most comprehensive and professional dictionaries aren't designed for learners at all, they're there to define what a word means.

使用单语词典主要的问题是:它并不是针对初学者或中级水平的学生。大部分综合性和专业的词典不是为学习者设计的,它们只是定义了一个字词的含义。

 

Let's say you don't understand what 太阳 means and you look it up. Let's look at a few examples of what you would find in a few monolingual dictionaries:

让我们假设你不理解"太阳"的意思,你需要去查阅。一起看看你在单语词典里会找到的几个例子:

 

This is from Zdic.net:

以下是来自Zdic.net词典:

 

地球等行星围绕它公转的恒星,是由本身引力吸引在一起的直径为 1.4×106公里的气体球,其内部深处热核反应把氢聚变为氦而释放出能量。

 

This sentence is difficult to understand for non-native readers. There are numerous words that are much, much harder than the word we're looking up. The grammar and word order is in a formal, written style that is hard to penetrate if you're not already a good reader.

这个句子对于非本地读者而言很难理解。这里有很多比需要查阅的词还难的字词。语法和词序是正式的书面体,对于水平较低的读者来说很难看懂。

 

This is from Longman Advanced Chinese Dictionary:

以下来自朗曼进阶中文词典:

 

银河系的恒星之一,太阳系的中心天体,是一个炽热的气体球,内部不断发生热核反应,产生巨大的能量。地球和其他八颗行星都围绕它旋转,并从它获得光和热。

 

Now, assuming that you didn't know a basic word like 太阳, do you think that these definitions would have helped you? Of course, you could look up these as well, but this leads to an ever-expanding maze of dictionary look-ups.

现在,假设你不懂基本词语"太阳",你觉得这些定义能否帮到自己呢?当然了,你也可以这样查阅,但是你开始没玩没了地查字典。

 

What to do, then? We suggest relying on bilingual English-Chinese or Chinese-English dictionaries until you feel that you can comfortably handle the monolingual dictionaries. In some cases when the Chinese-English dictionary doesn't explain what you're after, you might have to use a monolingual dictionary, but it shouldn't be the default option.

那该怎么办呢?我们建议,在你能自如地运用单语词典之前先用英汉或汉英双语词典。有时候汉英词典解释不了你想要的,或许你可以使用单语词典,不过这不应该成为默认选择。

 

In short, it's okay to use English or another language to support your learning. It will probably lead to better results and quicker learning, too. At some point, you need to let go of English, but there's no need to hurry.

总之,使用英语或其它语言协助你的学习是可取的,效果可能更好,学习也更快。某种情况下,你需要放手英文,但非一时之急。

Translated from: about.com

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2016-06-21

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