What is included with this book?
Since it was first published in 1980, the Collins German Dictionary has become one of the standard reference works of its kind. The scale of its coverage as well as the clarity and accuracy of the information it provides have made it a recognized authority in both English- and German-speaking countries.
The scope and nature of the language treated
The emphasis is firmly placed on contemporary language. The range is wide: the headwords and compounds, phrases and idioms have been selected and arranged to present the user with the authentic language he or she will meet daily in newspapers, journals, books and in the street.
Particular attention has been paid to recent coinages and new meanings not found in existing bilingual dictionaries and even absent from some monolingual volumes, but essential if the dictionary is truly to reflect current, living language as it is spoken and written today.
Space has been found, too, for a considerable representation of the vocabulary of literature and science, and especially of those areas which have contributed notably to the modern consciousness -- business, computing, education, the environment, medicine, politics, and so on.
One of our primary concerns has been to make the dictionary equally valid for German-speaking and English-speaking users. Our rigorous policy that every German word in the dictionary has been created and vetted by German lexicographers and every English word by English lexicographers, with constant discussion between them, means that German-speaking and English-speaking users can approach this dictionary with equal confidence. In addition, we have taken care that each side of the dictionary is equally helpful for translation from and into the foreign language.
The geographical spread of language is not neglected either. A wide coverage of American English is given. Swiss, Austrian and former East German usages are treated. And regionalisms from within the main body of British English and German are covered.
Layout and help
However well-chosen the content of a dictionary may be, much of its value is instantly lost if the user cannot easily and quickly find his or her way to the meaning that meets his needs. So we have put considerable effort into devising and implementing a comprehensive system of indicating material.
Not only are all complex entries clearly divided into separate areas of meaning, but the sense of each area is signposted by 'indicators' which immediately highlight the group of meanings in that category. In addition, variations of meaning within each category are precisely pinpointed by further indicating material. The systematic and consistent use throughout the dictionary of indicating material, which may take the form of field labels, synonyms, typical subjects or objects of verbs, and so on, is a feature of the dictionary to which we attach the greatest importance. This indicating material is a very effective way of helping the user to pinpoint the exact translation he or she is looking for.
One of the most insidious linguistic traps that besets the student of any foreign language is to use words or expressions inappropriate -- occasionally grotesquely so -- to the context. The complexities and subtleties of register, especially of social overtones, are impossible to acquire from the printed page, but we have created for this dictionary a range of 'style labels' that accurately characterize the stylistic restrictions that should be placed on any word or expression in the text -- both in source language and in target language.
Words and expressions that are unmarked for style or register in source or target language are to be taken as standard language appropriate to any normal context or situation. Wherever this is not the case the nature of the restriction is indicated: formal, literary, school slang, humorous, pejorative, and so on.
A new, user-friendly style of presentation has been chosen for selected longer entries (for example, common verbs and prepositions) to make finding specific meanings or expressions easier.
Another feature of this dictionary is the wealth of phrases provided within many entries. These greatly expand the validity of the information provided by showing how translation and sometimes structure change in different contexts and by giving examples of the idioms and set expressions relating to the headword.
The pages that follow describe these and other features of the dictionary in greater detail.
The fifth edition of this dictionary contains in-depth entries with information on important aspects of culture and everyday life in German- and English-speaking countries.
German Spelling Reform
This dictionary has fully implemented the German spelling reform. All headwords on the German-English side of the dictionary which have been affected by the spelling changes are marked accordingly in the text, while the supplement (pp 2087-2110) gives explanations on the extent of the spelling reform and the way it affects relevant entries in this dictionary.
The aim of any new edition of a dictionary is usually to update the text to incorporate those words and phrases which have only recently come into the language -- this dictionary does have several thousand new words and meanings on both sides of the text. However, to create a new edition fit for the 21st century we have moved beyond this and developed several other features which make this book more user-friendly and up-to-date than ever before.
The decisive factor in this was the determination to analyse the meaning and usage of existing entries and to expand or restructure them where appropriate. To achieve this, both traditional lexicographical methods and the latest electronic tools were used. The dictionaries we produce today benefit from use of the huge electronic corpora for English ("Bank of English") and German ("Deutsche Textbörse") developed through the groundbreaking research into computational linguistics carried out by Collins in partnership with the University of Birmingham since the 1970s. These corpora are collections of texts held on computer, which provide numerous examples of how words are actually used in the widest possible variety of contexts, be it in newspapers, in literature, in official reports or in ordinary spoken language. In much the same way as scientists who analyse objective data to confirm their hypotheses, dictionary editors now have access to vast databases of hard facts and evidence to back up their own linguistic intuition. The result is a degree of accuracy and depth of coverage that would be impossible to achieve using traditional methods alone. Here is an example of how authentic usage, as documented in our corpora, the Bank of English and the Deutsche Textbörse, is reflected in our dictionary entries.Collins German Unabridged Dictionary, 7th Edition. Copyright © by Bill HarperCollins UK. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from German Unabridged by HarperCollins Staff
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.