Collins/Langenscheidt/Pons German dictionary

As already mentioned, the Collins large one-volume DE>EN EN>DE dictionary edited by Peter Terrell, originally sold in Germany as Pons Großwörterbuch für Experten und Universitäten Englisch, has two successors.

Language Hat seemed interested in a review of the new Collins-Langenscheidt dictionary (see recent entry). I can’t see myself doing a full review because I don’t use a bilingual dictionary like this much. I probably use the CD-ROM every day to jog my memory, but if I encounter a new German expression, I go to a monolingual dictionary or the Internet. And my translation problems usually relate to legal or cultural matters for which this dictionary is too small.

Still, I have a paper copy of the 1999 edition here and have now compared some of the pages of the new editions online with that.

First, the new Collins German Dictionary, known in Germany as Langenscheidt (Collins) Großwörterbuch Englisch (must remember the names). Some pages can be downloaded here. Take the lower link (Musterseiten), for the thumb index version – it gives 5 DE>EN pages and 5 EN>DE.

The 2004 dictionary and the 1999 dictionary are very similar indeed. I looked at the pages from biologisch – bisherig, and from E – echt, that is, only two pages, and only DE>EN. I looked at the layout of the EN>DE for the sidebars.

The layout is a bit nicer: markers like ADJ, PRON etc. are in capitals, white on a black background, so they strike the eye immediately. The sidebars (they exist in both language directions, but the sample pages show them only EN>DE) are now on a grey background, so they stand out nicely. The one I looked at was not new – it was in the 1999 dictionary too.

On one occasion, two entries have been separated, so that ebenerdig and ebenfalls are in separate entries, which makes more sense.

New words are Birnenfassung (light-bulb socket), Birnenwasser (pear brandy), and Eau de Toilette (eau de toilette – isn’t it toilet water?)

Words removed: eine weiche Birne haben (to be soft in the head).

Other alterations are trivial. Birgt replaces birg for those who are looking for the verb bergen and don’t know about the vowel change. Birst is added for bersten.

Under bisherig, the sentence der frühere Außenminister ist jetzt Kanzler has now become der frühere Stellvertreter ist jetzt Vorsitzender!

I did not compare the long entry on bis word for word. From length and layout it looks unchanged.

Two things struck me. One, why is Bisamratte given as muskrat (beaver)? I presume it means that Bisamratte is a muskrat but some people wrongly use the word for beaver. I can confirm the former because there are some in the Fürth Stadtpark. But I find the entry confusing.

Another interesting point is bisherig. Both dictionaries give:

wegen unserer bisherigen Arbeitsweise war das unmöglich: because of our previous way of working / because of the way we worked before that wasn’t possible
wegen unserer bisherige Arbeitsweise ist das unmöglich: because of our present way or working / because of the way we have worked up to now that isn’t possible

It’s interesting that bisherig can mean previous or present depending on context, but I’m sure they’re right. It means: running up to a particular time, and contains a tense problem.

That’s all, folks – not many changes, are there? Those with an earlier copy of the dictionary should have a good look, though, since the sidebars have not always been there and I suspect the 1999 edition had some big changes.

Now for the other one. That is Pons Großwörterbuch Englisch 2001, labelled on the cover Vollständige Neuentwicklung. If you click on praxisorientiert on that page, you will see a little bit of text.

Looking at the DE>EN example of fahren, it looks as if the dictionary is completely new. The meanings of the verb seem to be the same in number, but the examples are different. I missed er fuhr mit der Hand/einem Tuch über den Tisch: he ran his hand/a cloth over the table, but the entry is torn off and maybe that is there – they don’t show whole pages. There are some differences: Fahrensmann, a rather archaic word, is added, and peripatetic is added for fahrend.

Here’s the old entry for Fahrer:

Fahrer Fah|rer [>faùrŒ] m (-s, -), Fahrerin Fah|re|rin [-«rIn] f (-, -nen) [a] driver;
(= Chauffeur) chauffeur/chauffeuse, driver;
[b] (Sport) (inf) (= Radfahrer) cyclist;
(= Motorradfahrer) motorcyclist

The new one has: driver, motorist, motorbike ride, motorcyclist, biker, racing driver, racing cyclist, driver, chauffeur, chauffeuse.

Not all entries are longer, though. To compare this dictionary with the 1999 Collins, you would need to work with both and see if you developed a preference.

2 thoughts on “Collins/Langenscheidt/Pons German dictionary

  1. Yes, that’s what I think. I think because of the change of publishers’ allegiances they felt obliged to produce a new edition. They’ve made it look a bit better, but the content changes seem small. I wonder what the preface says. They sometimes list new words. There is or was a website somewhere with added words (not huge quantities, though). Probably that was on the Pons site and has now gone. And there is the 1999 edition online, as I mentioned earlier.

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