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Oxford Large Print Dictionary
Edited by Julia Elliott

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The Oxford Large Print Dictionary

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Oxford Large Print Dictionary
Large Print Edition
Edited by Julia Elliott
Oxford University Press, (October 2002)
Genre: Reference

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - September 2, 2003

A dictionary is a dictionary, or is it? On a basic level, all dictionaries are the same. They list words and provide definitions. Some also offer pronunciations guides, and explain the parts of speech that each word belongs to. However what really makes each dictionary unique are the type and number of words that it contains.

For example, a child's beginner dictionary might contain only few basic, simple words, with very basic definitions. On the other end of the scale is The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which is 'the' comprehensive dictionary of the English language. It is not however, a dictionary found in many homes. The OED consists of 20 volumes, for which periodic supplements are published to update the dictionary as new words come into usage. For general home use, most people want something in between a beginner's dictionary and the OED. In addition, individuals with low vision, or those who are uncomfortable reading small print, also want a dictionary with big print. The new Oxford Large Print Dictionary (OLPD) meets both needs.

The current incarnation of the Oxford Large Print Dictionary is based upon the Oxford English Minidictionary. This new edition of the OLPD contains over 90,000 words, phrases and definitions. This text includes a pronunciation guide, and all entries are annotated with its corresponding part of speech such as noun, verb, and preposition. As well, the various inflections of words are also shown if they are irregular or in those cases when questions might arise as to the spelling. For example, the entry for the noun 'dinghy' also includes its plural form 'dinghies'.

This is a small desk sized dictionary that is very lightweight, especially when compared to previous editions of the OLPD. This new edition is approximately 2 inches thick, and the front cover measures about 8 by 5 inches, which is a little smaller than the size of a standard steno pad.

The definitions offered in this dictionary are simple and to the point. For example, the definitions for calyx is "a ring of leaves (sepals) covering a flower bud." Information on how to pronounce a specific word is only offered for difficult to pronounce words such as couscous or liege. When warranted, entries include labels such as [INFORMAL], [POETIC], or [DEROGATORY] which help to provide additional information about the word in question. Additionally, words which are used in American English but which are not found in standard British English are labeled [US].

The type face is big, clear, and the words are well spaced so that each word is distinctive. Main entries are printed in a large bold type face. Subentries are also in bold print, but are printed with a slightly smaller type face in order to distinguish them from the main entry. The definitions, themselves, are in a dark, but nonbold type face. The text is arranged with two columns of entries on each page with a vertical line dividing the two columns. As well, the bindery work is solid, and looks as if it will hold up well under heavy use. This dictionary should be very long lasting, both in regard to its physical life, and for its usefulness as a dictionary.

This new Oxford Large Print Dictionary was edited by Julia Elliott and it was produced in conjunction with the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) in Great Britain. The text is easy to read, and is printed on off-white paper that minimizes glare. Overall, I found this to be a fine dictionary that is perfect for those who do not need detailed definitions of words, and who are looking for a dictionary to use as general purpose spelling guide.

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