Learning a language in a snap of the fingers would be a vain fantasy...
A Russian education worthy of its name, and worthy of this beautiful Slavic language, requires some equipment, both physical (quality works) and material (such as the installation of a virtual Cyrillic keyboard for example).
Among the essential tools for a healthy progression in the Russian language, the dictionary occupies a place of choice. It can be either English-Russian or the other way around, Russian-English (sometimes both): for the moment, we will speak only of the first ones.
If American tourists that speak a little of one latin language have no difficulty in grasping the essence of what Spaniards and Italians try to say to them, the same can not be said for Russian, a Slavic language whose lexical base is clearly different from the Latin base!
Before being oral, you're comprehension of the language must start with the written words and phrases.
This big gap is reflected even on the alphabet: the knowledge of Russian characters (and especially the order of Cyrillic letters for your lexical research) is necessary for the good use of most Anglo-Russian dictionaries.
Once this prerequisite is satisfied, you can fully benefit from the virtues of a good Russian-English dictionary.
What is the point of having an English Russian dictionary?
When you start learning a foreign language such as Russian, or you practice it with an intermediate to higher level, you have at first a very limited vocabulary, expanding as you go along in a measured way. If you've already had an english translation to do, you'll realize how this exercize can be hard.
In deed, language translation is an art, a job, and not easy for beginners. How can you manage your English to Russian translations best?
This is where the help of a dictionary for English Russian translation usually comes in hand: he helps out at the slightest need, both written and spoken, even if it can sometimes seem tedious.
Unlike online translators, such as a website or Russian translation software, it can require some lenghtly research among the many pages. But there's something in that process that alse helps you memorize the words better.
To take full advantage of its services and the time it takes to search for the desired entries, there is nothing better than keeping up-to-date, in parallel, an alphabetical "directory" in which to note the vocabulary to learn on a daily basis and to revise regularly.
That's how we progress: working - it's the only secret of linguistics! - an repeating.
Another common use of the Anglo-Russian dictionary concerns a particular written exercise, which can be done for pleasure, by training research or for professional reasons: translation of a theme.
Even sworn translators may need one: who doesn't have a memory gap once in a while?
In addition, such a dictionary can check the spelling of a noun or try to find a synonym to avoid the repetition of a given term.
These same characteristics are valid in the other direction, from Russian to English, in case of "double" linguistic dictionary.
The qualities of a good Anglo-Russian dictionary
One should not expect from a work of this type that it collects, both in English and Russian, the full lexicon of a language: there are always extremely specialized or obsolete words that do not not appear.
However, your Russian English dictionary must be as complete as possible, by staying general and not specialized in a dedicated theme: it stands out in this simple manual vocabulary learning.
A good Russian dictionary should not use any transliteration. There is nothing more tricky than those, because they promise to be disappointing to those who would like to rely on them or use them in an ordinary way.
This means that the translations of the English data must be written in Cyrillic alphabet only, which means that you must know and master the modern Russian alphabet, with its 33 letters.
Several dictionaries have for this reason, in the introduction or at the end of the book, help sheets that can summarize the Cyrillic alphabet or some other linguistic points specific to the language of destination.
Similarly, for ease of use, don't hesitate to choose a Anglo-Russian dictionary giving the phonetic equivalent of the Russian words (possibly with phonetic notation system table if you do not know it yet, the ideal being - for the study of any language - to learn it by heart).
Some online translation sites will offer the possibility of hearing the word in the translated language which will also help you out with your pronunciation.
The best dictionaries from English to Russian
Tastes and colors vary according to individuals and teachers...
We do not pretend to be perfect: also, the present distribution of the Anglo-Russian dictionaries available is simply the reflection of a separation between the most used references and sold to the Russussians on the one hand, and the much less popular modules or too recent to enjoy a real reputation on the other hand.
The classics from our favorite bookstores
The Oxord Russian-English dictionary is undoubtedly the best dictionary on the English market. It covers most of the questions raised by the reading of Russian texts.
Thousands of words, expressions and translations are reviewed and contextualized to pedagogically teach the virtues of the Russian lexicon.
Everything is worked in order to simplify the learning of Russian.
- Accent marks
- Full conjugation of each verb
- Full declension of each noun/pronoun and adjective (both for singular and plural forms)
- Ability to search in English and in Russian
- Perfective & imperfective verb forms
- Genders for all nouns
- Example sentences
- And many more
However, if you need to translate full sentences, I’d recommend. It can even translate the slang expressions properly.
Kenneth Katzner's anglo-russian dictionary for Americanized English will however be the best on the market: instead of just the word and definition for most it gives two or three extra phrases with that word. It will cost you 30$ but will be worth the price.
Human translation is often seen as more proper for languages. A machine translation could not possibly grasp the depth of the Russian grammar, could it? Well, don't be so harsh: not only Internet can help you to compare and buy your paper dictionary, but it is also a way to benefit from a large range of multilingual online dictionaries, free or not.
The border is often tenuous between automatic translator and a completed Anglo-Russian dictionary.
You can use cross-searches based on the databases of Wordreference, Reverso, Lingee, Academic, Multitran, Glosbe, Promt, Google, Bing, and "Slang".
Lingee is a multilingual dictionary, coupled with a very valuable conversation guide for oral communication.
We could also mention the data of Goethe-Verlag, Okno, Picture Russian dictionary, Ets and Shtooka ...
These resources have the advantage of being dematerialized and therefore accessible on the move on any digital medium connected to the Web ...
You can also find online Russian courses on the Internet.
Dictionaries less popular with russians
Less useful paper textbooks
It is necessary to know that a language evolves through the centuries, and this is particularly the case of Russian before 1917-1918, during the last reforms of the alphabet by the Bolsheviks.
In certain situations, it may be interesting to use old and obsolete dictionaries, sometimes trilingual: this is the case of J. Heym and F's Russian-French-German, German-Russian-French, French-Russian-German dictionary. Svaitnoi published in Leipzig and Riga in 1835.
These dictionaries aren't very popular in English. They're mostly used for thematic approaches such as an Astronautical Mutlilingual dictionary.
Preconceived ideas sometimes live a long life: this is how Google Translation is often reviled, because of its poor performance of a few years ago.
However, today, it is an online automatic translator, which, for free, gives stunning results, especially in its English version which, moreover, acts as a real dictionary when one selects a word with the cursor of your mouse.
Beware that if you need a professional translation, don't try to do it yourself with Google alone. We advise you find a Russian translator.
Unfortunately, the Anglo-Russian part is not as successful - simple question of time perhaps?
To learn vocabulary, check out podcasts in Russian.
Should other books be added to the linguistic dictionary?
To complete your library of future bilingual and multilingual speaker, nothing beats the acquisition of a Russian-English dictionary, which very convenient to understand texts in Russian and will always come in use.
And there are infinite lists of vocabularies, in bookstores and on the Net!
To translate english into Russian will require hard work and exertize. If you wish to access instant translation go for a free online translator, or else... find a Russian speaking friend around to help you out!
Language learning online apps in Russian can help you in your playful learning.