The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English is a very useful monolingual dictionary available on the net. I came across this language resource when one of the English teachers recommended it at the beginning of the course. This tool is not only helpful in order to find many words that are not understood when reading, but it is also appropriate for translation tasks as it offers very accurate definitions and examples. Even if the LDOCE is thought for non native English speakers, it may also be interesting for native speakers as it offers a full range of features.
The website of the dictionary is owned and operated by Pearson Education which is part of the global media and education group Pearson and has different English language publishing programmes all over the world. Moreover, the LDOCE is powered by IDM (XML Content Management Software) a French company which provides software development services to electronic information users and suppliers.
The dictionary, as all Longman dictionaries, is compiled using the Longman Corpus Network which offers a huge database of 330 million words taken from a wide range of sources from the real life.
But, which is the main benefit of being based on this Corpus? In many cases, it is difficult to know which words are used together (collocations). In consequence of being based in such Corpus, the LDOCE offers a variety of word combinations which is very useful when having to write an essay or even read an article. Another advantage that the dictionary offers is the fact that as it takes into account many words from students’ essays or exams, it avoids common mistakes.
How to use the Longman Dictionary Online:
The online version of the Longman dictionary offers around 207000 words and their meaning, as well as 7000 references to either people, or places etc. On the following lines, I will introduce a short usage of the tool.
1. Looking up a word
This version is very useful and easy to use. By typing the word in the search box and clicking OK we will be instantly directed to a page where all the definitions for the word are listed.
There may appear more than one option if the word is used as more than one part of speech. To make things easier, the word shown first is the most used.
2. How to hear the pronunciation of a certain word
It also offers the pronunciation of the word which is useful to understand the International Phonetic Alphabet’s symbols. In order to listen to the pronunciation, we just have to click on the speaker buttons which appear next to the example sentences to hear them. Moreover, by clicking on the speaker button at the top of the entry we will be directed to a new window. There we can hear the headword pronounced either in British English or American English, and also all the example sentences for that entry.
What happens if the word we want to check does not appear? The online dictionary offers a spellchecker which will suggest different options similar to the one typed.
3. Searching by topic
It is also important to point out that the online version has recently made available the possibility of looking up a word by clicking on topic label (what they have called “Topic Dictionary”). This is how the dictionary creates a kind of net between words which is really useful for the user in order to follow the connections between words very easily. Even if we are searching for a specific word, it can interest us to see similar words, or compounds, etc. This may be particularly useful when writing an essay as we might be using words related to the same topic as in the following example. We might be using words related to motor vehicles, or words connected with technology.
Before that, the dictionary also added the chance to see pictures of words through its “Dictionary pictures”. It has been suggested in many cases that the best way to learn and remember the meaning of a word is by pictures. It is not only highly recommended for teaching kids, but also for adults. Our memory tends to remember more easily the image of a certain word rather than the whole explanation, that is why I found really interesting that the dictionary is adjuncting to the meaning the picture of the word.
As it can be seen in this example of a noun search, the dictionary first of all specifies if the word is countable or uncountable between brackets and in agreen colour next to the word. As previously mentioned, the dictionary also offers in some cases the picture which will appear to the right. Some words have several different meanings which are organized by their usage. The most used or most common meaning appears first next to the number in red. In this example, the second meaning is accompanied by a similar word or a synonym which is shown between brackets and next to a symbol of equality in blue. Each meaning is followed by several examples where the word can be used, and each of those examples is preceded by a symbol which allows listening to the pronunciation. Moreover, at the end of each meaning, if possible, the dictionary suggests in strong blue next to a row different words which are related to the word we have searched.
In contrast to the example of the noun search, when searching a verb, the dictionary goes directly to the first meaning. This is when as with the noun, it offers the specification of whether it is a transitive or intransitive verb. This is shown after the number of the meaning (in red) between brackets and ingreen. In the case of verbs it also gives words that seem to be synonyms in blue and also between brackets. It can also be appreciated that there are some cases when the dictionary specifies when it is used in British English or in American English in purple italics. It also makes clear when it is a phrasal verbnext to the usage in light grey. Of course, the pronunciation of each example is available by clicking to the pronunciation icon which appears before it.
With adjectives, the dictionary goes straight into the meanings also ordered depending their usage and after their corresponding number in red. In the previous two cases, the tool offered similar words or synonyms next to each meaning (if there are synonyms). However, in the case of adjectives, it shows the possible antonyms or words with the opposed meaning. They are specified between brackets in blue and after a crossed symbol of equality. It has to be pointed out that at the end of the entry, the dictionary offers words formed with the adjectives; in the example it shows that from polite we can formpolitely by adding the suffix -ly indicating an adverb, or we can also get the noun politeness by adding the suffix -ness. It also offers several examples with their corresponding pronunciations.
This final example shows the search for an adverb. It does not show any other new feature that has not been mentioned in the previous examples. The meanings are ordered by the usages and all the examples offer the possibility of listening to them.
Comparing the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English with the Urban Dictionary:
First of all, it has to be pointed out that these two dictionaries are completely different as we will appreciate when we first get into their web page.
The appearance of each online dictionary is completely opposed. The LDOCE appears to be more clear, more organized, in other words, moresophisticated. Even if it has some advertisements they are very well put together with the content of the dictionary so that it does not disturb when using the tool; they are left aside on the right or left very well organized in columns and with a subtle frame marking the ad. Moreover, the page makes your view go straight into the searching box so that there is no possibility to get lost. The searching box appears in the upper part of the page in the middle and with a bigger size. The tool also offers a specific tab inside the page with specifications of the usage and very useful examples as well as common questions.
In contrast, the Urban Dictionary at a first sight is more like a chaos. It is full of advertisements in different formats (colours, size, etc.), and the first page does not show the dictionary itself, but a page with a list of the words of the day (which is also a bit confusing). In order to access the dictionary there are some tab at the top and we have to click in the tab “dictionary”. That way we will be directed to a page where for looking up a word we have to search in thealphabet or in a small searching box in the upper part to the right. This is not a very clear, organized and easy usage of a dictionary and it does not even offer a page with keys for using it nor any kind of explanation.
In reference to the content, the Urban Dictionary is very useful for slang or daily words that may not be found in the LDOCE. Let’s have a look at some examples:
As it can be appreciated, the Urban Dictionary first of all offers several words which are related to the word we are looking up. They appear one after the other in small blue boxes. Then it shows the list of meanings for the word ordered depending on the day they were published which appears at the end of each meaning after the name of the person who has published the entry. Each meaning is rated in favour or against by the users. Apart from the meaning it also offers some example sentences of how the word is used in context.
When searching a verb the same happens, first we are offered a list of words connected to the word we are looking for and then the list of meaningsordered all in the same way. However, in this case, it can be appreciated that the meaning given by the Urban Dictionary and the meaning that the LDOCE gives have nothing to do with each other. The one given by the Urban Dictionary refers to an Australian saying while the one given by the LDOCE is more connected to the generalized use of the verb shout. There is also an example sentence to help the user realize in which context is the word used.
In the case of the adjective, the tool also includes the already cited list of related words in blue small boxes at the top and then the possible meanings for the word, each of them rated by the users. In this particular case, even if the meaning is referring to the same idea that the LDOCE is suggesting, it is slightly different. It can be noticed that the Urban Dictionary’s definition is not as accurate as the one given by the LDOCE which is more complete, more formal and it is better explained. Furthermore, the examples given are very simple and not very helpful.
Finally, the search for the adverb shows the same features as in the previous cases. However, there is a tiny difference in this case, in contrast to the previous examples this entry shows a specification of what type of word it is (adverb). And instead of giving an example sentence it offers a conversation where the word is used.
- All the images are taken from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online and the tool is available there: Longman Dictionary of Advanced English. Retrieved: 19:19, April 12, 2010, from http://www.ldoceonline.com/
- Pearson Education. Retrieved: 20:05, March 05, 2010, from: http://www.pearsoned.co.uk/AboutUs/
- Pearson Longman. Retrieved: 20:07, March 05, 2010, from: http://www.pearsonlongman.com/index.html
- IDM (XML Content Management Software). Retrieved: 20:15, March 05, 2010, from: http://www.idm.fr/
- Urban Dictionary. (2010, April 20). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:26, April 23, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Urban_Dictionary&oldid=357144923
- Urban Dictionary. Retrieved: 14:18, April 23, 2010, from http://www.urbandictionary.com/
- Monolingual learner’s dictionary. (2010, April 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:45, April 24, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Monolingual_learner%27s_dictionary&oldid=354480366