Over the years, I've had the opportunity to study a few different languages since that is one of my passions, and after looking back at all the language studying I've done, I realized that I haven't really made that much use of second-language monolingual dictionaries.
I'm not exactly sure why that is.
Maybe my language skills have never been good enough to take advantage of monolingual dictionaries. Maybe I've never really had a need to use them in my translation work, especially I mostly concentrate on translating into my native language, English.
Whatever, the reason, I don't think I'm necessarily alone in this practice.
When I was in my university translation program, I don't remember a single other student ever using a monolingual dictionary in class. This was the days before everyone had Internet on a phone, or had laptops or tablets to take to class so it wasn't like everyone was accessing word definitions online.
In fact, if I remember right, most of the kids in the class used various bilingual dictionaries (with the Harraps Giant Paperback Spanish Dictionary being the preferred favorite) to get their translations done.
I really didn't even see the need for a monolingual dictionary when I first started out in the Spanish translation program. It wasn't until my second year in the program when I was a bit more advanced in my studies that a friend of mine actually bought a monolingual dictionary and introduced me to the importance of having one in your arsenal of language aids.
The dictionary he bought, and one that I eventually ended up buying a couple of weeks later, was the Larousse Dictionary. While I don't use it exclusively for my translation work, I have found it to be invaluable in certain instances (and especially when I was a student and didn't have ready or easy access to the Internet and great online tools like the online Spanish translator forum at Wordreference.com.
Now of course there are a ton of different monolingual dictionaries on the market, and every translator, language student, and language professional is going to have his or her favorite one.
However, the reason I love the Larousse Dictionary is because it not only has a decent monolingual dictionary, but also has a pretty good encyclopedia where you can find a ton of information about all sorts of things. This is especially good for Spanish-language students who need to improve their language vocabulary. They can read about all sorts of different topics and use the dictionary to look up words that they might not understand. It's a great learning tool that I definitely took advantage of when I was studying Spanish.
Another thing I like about the Larousse brand is that it publishes this dictionary annually. A lot of dictionary publishers don't update their reference materials every year, and if someone wants to buy one, they are inevitably forced to buy an outdated version.
Now if you have a version from one year, there's really no need to keep buying the yearly updates every year, but it is nice to have that option, especially when you're buying your first copy.
The current edition of the Larousse Dictionary always contains updated entries focusing on current events, which is another reason that makes the dictionary and encyclopedia combination so great.
OK, so if you're interested in the dictionary, here's some information you might found useful.
Pages: Almost 2,000 pages. (It's pretty thick, so you probably won't be taking it with you very many places.)
Entries: About 90,000 entries with more than 200,000 definitions. Sure there are monolingual dictionaries with more entries, but I've found that the Larousse Dictionary offers a good return on investment for the price it costs.
Pictures: The dictionary contains more than 5,000 full-color photographs, maps, tables, and drawings. This is one of my favorite features about the dictionary. The graphics do a nice job of breaking up the monotony of the dictionary itself. It also contains a color atlas of Latin American countries.
Topics: The dictionary covers a wide range of subjects, including the arts, architecture, nature, sports, history, science, and technology.
Extras: The Larousse Dictionary has a section of well-known proverbs and famous sayings, which is a good edition to any language student's study of language. You know your skills are improving when you're ready to tackle proverbs and idioms in another language.
All in all, the price you pay for this dictionary (about $30) is a great one for the amount of information you get in this monolingual dictionary. While a beginning language student might not have much need for a monolingual reference aid like the Larousse Dictionary, any advanced learner or translator would do well to add this dictionary to his or her language library.