Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Article Writing & A Good Dictionary

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

An indispensable tool for article writing is a good dictionary. A good dictionary is more than telling you the meaning of words and their correct spelling. Here are, among others, some of the features of a good dictionary, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:

Spelling: It tells you the difference between British and American spelling, such as 'emphasize', and it is also 'emphasise' in British English.

Countable and uncountable nouns: It is stated when a noun is countable or not, so you can decide to add an‘s’ to a noun when it is in plural form. In the dictionary ‘equipment’ is listed as uncountable so you can't add an‘s’ to it.

Pronunciation: It gives the pronunciation in American English as well as British English. Such a word is ‘lieutenant’ (lef'tenənt, British) and (lu:'tenənt, American). Moreover, there is a CD-ROM that you can listen to the correct pronunciation. It also tells you the different pronunciation of, say, ‘live’ in different contexts.

Collocation: Collocation is words that are typically used together so that it sounds nice in speech and in writing. For examples, there is ‘strong wind’ but ‘heavy rain’. For the word ‘effect’ you will find many examples like long-term effect, positive effect, the desired effect, knock-on effect and cumulative effect.

Antonyms and synonyms: When you look for the word 'beautiful' it tells all the words with similar meaning: pretty, handsome, good-looking, attractive, gorgeous and stunning. When you look at the word ‘criticise’ (British English), it gives you the opposite word ‘praise’.

Word choice: Choose between destroy, ruin and spoil -

Destroy means to damage something so badly that it no longer exists or people can no longer use it. If you ruin or spoil something, it still exists but it has lost all its qualities or features. It is also stated that ‘ruin’ is a stronger word than ‘spoil’. Such are examples of a good dictionary.

Transitive and intransitive words: You look up say, ‘offend’, you will see two examples:

(T)A solution must be found that it doesn't offend too many people.

(I) Many of the young men here are likely to offend.

Grammar: As an example, Philip ‘hung’ his coat on a hook behind the door but he was ‘hanged’ for murder.

Preposition: The dictionary also gives you the correct preposition, like curious about and duck under/behind.

Formal or informal words: For example, ‘accord’ is a formal word. 'Suck-up’ is informal and it is a phrasal verb and the right preposition to use is ' to'- He’s always sucking up to the boss.

Words used in different contexts: It tells whether a word is: biblical ,relating to law, not polite, old-fashioned, in old use, usually spoken, taboo , technical, a trademark or nearly always in written form.

2000 commonly used words: You can find 2000 common words that you can use in the dictionary. Use common words to communicate with readers. Its simple to use and it’s easy for the readers to understand. The list is from abbreviation in A to zero in Z.

A good dictionary is a versatile tool. It is your best writing companion.

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