These days, travelling for business or pleasure can often mean that you speak English all the way because so many people understand it. However, you’ll often find that making an effort to use the local language, whether to seal the deal or just to order a coffee, can make a big difference in the way people welcome you.
The Concise Oxford English Dictionary from Mobile Systems is a tool that can help you if you’ve already made the effort to learn some Spanish beforehand. It’s not a traveller’s phrase-book but it does contain precise translations for more than 170,000 words and phrases, all in a simple and easy-to-use interface which guarantees instant results.
The way that the dictionary is presented makes it easy to locate the info you’re looking for. Its default start-up screen is a list of the first half-dozen or so words beginning with ‘A’, and a text box which allows you to start searching for words immediately. We weren’t sure about displaying the full list of words as a default view: how many times will you choose to scroll through the full list rather than searching for your term? But as we typed, the dictionary filtered the words on-screen, narrowing down the choices until there were just a handful to pick from. In the end, we felt that this method of displaying information could well serve as a time-saver, and it’s therefore a must-have feature on any business dictionary.
When you open a specific record for a word, the translation is provided in a clear manner, using variations in font-strength and colour to indicate the various parts of the word’s entry. As well as the traditional Castilian Spanish (from Spain), twenty regional variations are included in the dictionary’s database, meaning that you can safely avoid the embarrassment of misusing Mexican slang in Spain, and vice versa.
Some small gripes included not being able to select terms for cross-referencing within the dictionary, and the lack of more encyclopaedic definitions. However, both these features would have taken up more precious space on your phone’s memory card, a sacrifice which on balance wouldn’t really be justified.
The Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary is a well designed, simple and easy-to-use tool for English speakers who need a mobile dictionary solution. Automatic updates and a ‘word of the day’ random term option are well executed, handy features which seal the deal on this reviewer’s recommendation.