English Spanish dictionaries come in all shapes, sizes, specialties, and mediums. There are paperback dictionaries, medical dictionaries, desktop dictionaries, electronic dictionaries, good dictionaries, and bad dictionaries.
All the options can be confusing for anybody deciding on how best to start (or improve) their Spanish translation resource library.
The most important thing to remember is that individual needs will (and very rightly should) vary. People who love Spanish translation (and English Spanish dictionaries) are a unique breed.
(It's what makes us special!)
What works for you or your buddy down the street or on the other side of the information highway might not work for you.
However, there are a list of guidelines that I like to follow when deciding how to spend my money on English Spanish dictionaries. I think this checklist can also help you.
1. Don't trust the Internet. Just because it's on the Internet, doesn't mean it's true. This is a warning call to be careful when doing research online for translations of specific words.
Due to the nature of the web, anyone can claim they know everything about Arctic ice fishing and how to translate every related word in both Spanish and English. Don't make your translation final until you've verified your sources and feel good about them.
2. Determine your needs. There are so many choices to choose from when deciding what to get. Narrow down what kind of work you'll be doing.
Are you interested in translating for the medical field? You'll need to invest in medical dictionaries.
Want a good generalized dictionary? Don't spend your time looking at specialized ones.
I always end up spending more on resources I don't need when I haven't determined what exactly I want. It's kind of like going to the grocery store when you're hungry. Not very good on the bank account.
3. Determine the format. Are you looking for just Spanish English translation equivalents or do you want definitions included?
That's usually the difference between glossaries and dictionaries. Glossaries are lists of translations while dictionaries have definitions included.
4. Determine the language(s). Obviously this article is all about English Spanish dictionaries. However, you do need to ask yourself:
Do I need (or want) the dictionary to be a monolingual one or a bilingual one?
This may sound like a silly question at first but it's important to realize that there are a lot of specialized dictionaries that are written in only Spanish or only English.
Legal dictionaries are an excellent example of this. Because laws are different in different parts of the Spanish-speaking world, inividualized resource books have been written which explain the laws of that particular region. These will undoubtedly be different from other regions and will usually be monolingual (as opposed to an English Spanish dictionary).
It's important, then, to have a good library of reference materials in both languages because that will help you translate more effectively.
For me personally, I like to have both bilingual and monolingual dictionaries in order to cross-reference them with each other on meanings of words.
5. Determine the medium. Where do you do most of your translation work?
Do you like to work at your home office?
At the park?
In the library?
Outside by the pool?
In your bed?
The last thing you want to be doing is carting around every English Spanish dictionary you own wherever you go to work on your translations.
Thanks to this technology age, however, there are many options to choose from. Electronic Spanish English dictionaries, computer software, or even programs for your pda all will help you with your needs.
There are still plenty of books, too, if you like the feel of having a book in your hand while your doing your research.