Dear Professor,


The hot stuff arouses my desire to possess it as soon as possible. I can predict that it will not be long before I can lay my hands on it on the Internet for free. I would not be a thief, but the technology has made Shengliver ‘a millionaire’ in terms of English learning resources.


The front cover and the back cover of OALD9 are enticing. It seems that the dic has included some more interactive features like iSpeak and iWrite. Hopefully it will beat its 8th edition. Right now I still love the 7th edition very much. The original software of the 7th edition was badly programmed by Oxford, but I got a hacker’s patch on the Web, which makes the 7th edition app very handy indeed.

iSpeak OALD9 

When I was in Grade 3 high school in 1988, one of my classmates had got a bilingual dictionary, a pirated edition of course, whose editor was a Taiwanese. The name seems to be Xu Qingdi. At that time I could not have loved it more. I often borrowed it from that girl classmate. Sometimes the girl joked that she should give the book to me as a present because its owner seemed to use less of it.


The first time I heard of OALD was in the autumn of 1989, when I got enrolled in Yunyang Teachers’ College in Danjiangkou. One of my teachers introduced it to us, when he found that each of us got two dictionaries from the school. One was the New Chinese-English Dictionary; the other an Oxford for beginners. It turned out that the librarian had made a serious mistake when he was ordering the books for our grade. Instead of ordering OALD, he equipped us with the Oxford for beginners. In the autumn of 1990 I ventured to the library office, where I bought a copy of OALD. It was still a pirate edition, the original one done by a Hong Kong press. It was a bilingual edition, with the Chinese translations in traditional characters. I was the only one in my class who was willing to spend approximately 10 RMB yuan on the dic. All the English language majors of Grade 90 had it.


This pirate OALD helped me a great deal when I was laying my English language foundations in the remaining two terms of my college years. I got to know that OALD was the first ever learner dictionary in which each verb falls into a usage category devised by the editor A S Horny. Each category corresponds to a label, like VN. This feature was of immense help, for then I had great difficulty deciding which structure follows a particular verb. Is it doing, to do, sb to do, that-clause etc.? The labels show it clearly. Some years ago one of my pupils had a version of the OALD with your name in the preface or somewhere. But I have forgotten the exact edition of it.


After I started working, in the 1990s I bought a Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English at a bookshop in the city. At the time, Shiyan City and Yunyang Prefecture were two separate geopolitical entities under the provincial government. The dic was a monolingual edition. I benefited a lot from its defining vocabulary. All definitions were written using the most commonly used words in the English language. This feature enables an intermediate-level learner to think in English in the right way.


I purchased my first PC in 2003 and got wired in 2004. As time went by, I came to realise that digital technology would change a lot of ways languages are taught and learned. I started to scavenge and collect digital versions of all major English language dictionaries on the Web. Looking back, I have achieved a lot. Besides, as my familiarity with the computer increased, I fell in love with the digital way of doing things. I have written a rather long entry on this topic on my blog titled The Reading Habit. If you like, Professor, you could read it and offer me some criticism.


The digital learner’s dic I have found the handiest so far is the LDOCE. I consult it on my desktop so many times a day. I was wondering if you had ever used it before, Professor, since you are a bookworm. It is so intuitive that its paper sibling looks a bit dumb. Not to mention the ease of lookup, all the example sentences are audible, read by either British or American speakers. The Longman Activator is incorporated in it. Through the Activator, I can tell the subtle nuances of meanings of synonyms. There are several other add-on components too, of which I like the Vocabulary Trainer best. Of course, you could also do dictation practice in the dic. In a word, LDOCE is more than a dic.


My general impression is that Longman has surpassed Oxford, Cambridge and other British and American publishes in delivering user-friendly ELL and ELT materials. I suspect that the latest OALD is trying to imitate LDOCE in some ways. I am curious about its speaking functionality, though.


Hopefully I will get the digital edition of OALD9 and find it out someday. I will not revise my blog entry Guide to a Linguistic PC this time for its sake. As I explained in one message, all the items listed in the entry are digital realities on my PC.


Another issue I’d eagerly hear your word on is what Patrick Chin and I have been talking about in our past few exchanges. I learned from him about his family’s tragedy, which befell the Chins in the 1940s. When his father, Professor Chin, was still in Wuhan, some local soldiers in Yunxian shot dead Patrick’s granddad and a couple of his uncles. I was shocked when I heard it from Patrick. I hope to ask Mr Leng about it on my next visit. Should you know anything, please make me wiser, Professor.


Some good news on my side: My winter holidays start on Monday evening February 9. I will have about 18 days off for the biggest Chinese festival. My students will come back on the eighth day of the first lunar month 2015. I bet you are looking forward to meeting your children and grandchildren right now.





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