Essential Dutch Dictionary: A Teach Yourself Guide
March 10, 2013
Authors Gerdi Quist, Dennis Strik
Series Teach Yourself
Publication Date 2010
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
Despite the nicely compact size of Essential Dutch Dictionary: A Teach Yourself Guide, it still has completely readable font. That’s a plus.
But there is no pronunciation guide, which strikes me as odd. Dutch is not easy to pronounce. Some advice would be good.
Another problem is that articles for nouns are shown only in the Dutch-English section, and not in the English-Dutch section. So if you are trying to translate an English noun into Dutch, you are stuck going first to the English-Dutch section to find the Dutch word, and then, if you need the article, which you probably will, you have to go to the Dutch-English section to look it up. That is not reasonable.
Also bizarre is that there are three little sections at the beginning of the dictionary called, respectively, “Only got a minute?”, “Only got five minutes?”, and “Only got ten minutes?” I guess you are supposed to decide how much time you really have and then pick the section that corresponds to your level of busyness.
Information in the one-minute section includes basic data about Dutch, its speakers, its spelling, and dictionary use. If you actually have five minutes (I certainly hope you do!), you can instead read the five-minute section, where you will get everything from the one-minute section, plus some. If you are one of the lucky few who have a whole 10 minutes, you can read that section instead, which includes everything in the five-minute section, which includes everything in the one-minute section…you get the idea.
Are we really that low on time?
I guess I am conventional, because I happen to be the kind of person who still reads books in forward order, starting at the beginning. I don’t tend to look at section headings very carefully, so I was partway through the five-minute section when I thought, “Huh, this seems familiar.” And that’s how I discovered this odd structure. I’m glad to know I have some reading comprehension skills at least.
I don’t approve of this kind of dumbing down of language instruction. Let’s just assume that English speakers motivated enough to learn Dutch—Dutch!—have 10 minutes and give them what they need. Once.
If you do buy the Essential Dutch Dictionary, be gentle with it. In my experience, these Teach Yourself editions fall apart fast.