Sunday, 15 January 2017

Fjalorë - shokët më e mirë të studentit

Dictionaries - the best friends of the student

So, today's topic is focused on the best dictionary resources I've found, plus I few I own. As every good student, I've always tried to help myself with the learning of new words, so I believe it may be helpful to share some tips.

The easiest resource to use is... actually Google Translate. Of course, it's definitely not really comprehensive and it's good only for separate words (although you should use it with care, because it happened to me to use falem instead of falënderoj to say "thank", and the result was a laugh from my Albanian friend - falem is pray, but Google gives it as "thank" too... maybe it can be, in some unknown to me cases). Also, it's good to use it to reverse Albanian to English to see whether what you wrote makes sense, but since it can't give you grammar tips, it's always good to check a grammar, in case you're not sure. Because yes, djali, djalit and djalin are both translated as "the boy", but that doesn't mean that you should use a particular one only because Google tells you to. Also, other really negative feature (to any language) is that it mixes the formal and informal "you" forms, so it becomes senseless sometimes.

Another type of translator is the Lexicool one. It just combines a few resources at the same place, so it is helpful. The best thing about on of the tools, Glosbe, it is that not only does it give you the meaning, but it searches the internet and puts it in context too. I, personally, use it the most, as it gives you that context, if I use that website.

A good one (based on the Oxford's Albanian-English one, if I'm not mistaken) is the Online Albanian Dictionary. The downside is that there is no English-Albanian version, just the other way around, so it can be used only if you want to understand what a word means in English. And the search/interface is not the friendliest around either... A good thing is that it has some Gheg words too, and it gives you words that derivate from some words (like adjectives etc, it's actually showing you a word up and a word down from that word in the list). It gives you stresses, but the downside is that it doesn't give you any definite/plural forms (you can find them if you know them, it will tell you some other forms of the verbs too, but still, not helpful enough with the listing... you'll be surprised how many nouns change gender in plural!), so it's helpful only to some extent.

If you can understand some Albanian already, then Fjalori i gjuhës së sotme shqipe is the best dictionary out there. Two downsides - it's only in Albanian (as it's a definitions dictionary), and it doesn't "know" Gheg, just whatever is considered "official". But, on the other side, it gives you lots of examples how to use that word, so it's worth a shot - especially given the fact that sometimes the examples contain the definite/plural forms too.

To "overcome" the problem of the English-Albanian one, I personally have this one:

(Shtëpia Botuese DITURIA, Prof. Dr. Gëzim Hadaj & Dr. Shk. Mariana Ymeri)
It's only English-Albanian though, and it's a relatively small one, with just 7k words. It was a gift to me from Albania such a long time ago, and it becomes used sometimes (there is always something new to learn, right?). I'm still searching for a bigger one, but it seems like unless I go to Albania myself, the chances are I'll have to stick to what I currently have.

A really good "starter pack" is the Berlitz's Eastern Europe phrase book and dictionary:

It's pretty much a "survive guide" for everyone who travels to Eastern Europe, and it contains some really basic phrases like the numbers, how to find your way around, how to ask for help, how to get a car, a room in a hotel, asking for food/drinks, touristic attractions and a small dictionary. And actually contains 12 languages, so it's worth having it if you plan to travel around (although most people know at least English, but it's never a bad thing to know more!) The only thing that personally confuses me is the pronunciation, as it's not transcribed, but written in a way probably native English speaker will read it (as I'm not one, I find it confusing with all the extra h letters you usually don't pronounce)

And don't forget the dictionaries in the books you've learned - they are good in the sense of giving you the plural/definite forms, and also usually follow a dialogue/reading, so you know how to put that one in a context. What I personally do is to go through the text first, noting all the new words and their stresses, and then play the audio to follow the reader, after I understood the context. 

Shpresoj që këtë informacion ju ndihmon! Shkruajmë së shpejti :)

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