Saturday, March 24, 2012

Larousse English / French dictionary app

6/12/12: Apple's 6/11/12 keynote address at their World Wide Developer Conference indicates that French, German, and Spanish dictionaries will be built into iOS 6 (on the screen at the 107:05 [minutes:seconds] mark). I imagine those will be more basic dictionaries, and I will continue to prefer using this Larousse dictionary app, but time will tell.
6/15/12: Some embedded single language (e.g., French-only) dictionaries can also be freely downloaded in the free Amazon Kindle app, which I mentioned previously here. Despite having written about them, I still sometimes forget they are there.

Several weeks ago I finally bought myself a combined French-English & English-French dictionary app. I am now no longer surviving on a hodgepodge of free apps which cover an assortment of much more limited/specific aspects of the French language; those apps still have their uses, so perhaps later I will write up a blog entry for them.

Anyway, I chose the Larousse English / French dictionary app (version 2.0.1) because:
  • I had some trust in the Larousse brand, having been pleased with their printed French-French nouveau dictionnaire du français contemporain illustré (new illustrated dictionary of contemporary French) which I bought years ago, and still use on occasion.
  • It was significantly cheaper than my other main candidate app, which I think was Ultralingua Robert.
  • My other main candidate app had some limit (50?) on the number of words it would keep in its history (before it started bouncing out the older ones), a limit which I felt was unreasonably low. However, to be honest, I don't actually know what Larousse's limit is. 8/24/14: Larousse app 2.2.0 history limit is 100.
I have found the app to be a pleasure to use (although I could do without the animation when switching between direction of language translation), when looking up words while listening to various French podcasts, or when, rather less often, writing French text.  Below is an example where you can see their useful added detail for an entry:

Two inconveniences I hope the developers fix in a future version:
  • Direction of translation always starts English to French; better would be to stay in the direction last used. I more frequently want French to English.
  • The History entries change their chronological order from descending to ascending, or vice versa, each time the list of entries is viewed (including if, within History, you look for a word's detail, then go back to History). I have difficulty imagining a reason why it would be helpful for it to work this way. (2/26/13: This is fixed in version 2.2.0, such that the History entries now consistently appear top to bottom in the order in which they were searched for. Personally I would have used reverse chronological search order, since I'm usually more interested in quickly seeing the words which I looked up most recently, but at least the order is no longer flipping back and forth.

    By the way, the Delete button immediately deletes all History entries. To my regret and contrary to my expectations, it doesn't offer the choice of deleting selected entries, nor does it prompt for confirmation. It would be more helpfully labeled "Delete all" or "Clear history", and it really ought to prompt for confirmation. To delete an individual entry, swipe on it from left to right, and the typical red Delete button appears, which is effectively prompting for confirmation.)

Some language errors and/or app oddities/bugs:

1) In this French definition, "it's" should be "its":

2) If you look up "program" in English, you get triple entries for it both as a noun and as a verb:

3) When looking up a phrase in French, if you enter the first word you will be presented by entries for it by itself, plus a limited number of entries of phrases that begin with it. If the number of possible entries is large, you will not see them all, and you will unfortunately have to cycle through all the remaining letters of the alphabet to see all the possibilities. See the following example.

I was trying to find the phrase au dessous (in fact, the phrase is au-dessous with a dash between the two words, but I didn't know/remember that).

Entering "au" gives this list:

That list can be scrolled down only until this point, which has not exhausted all phrase possibilities beginning with "au":

Entering "au d" gives this list:

That list can be scrolled down until this point, which presumably is the last phrase in the dictionary that begins with "au d":

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