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The New Comprehensive Shilo Pocket Dictionary

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The New Comprehensive Shilo Pocket Dictionary

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The New Comprehensive Shilo Pocket Dictionary
Hebrew - English, English - Hebrew
Edited by Zevi Scharfstein
Shilo Publishing House, Inc. (1997)
ISBN: 9780883280126

Reviewed by Boris Segel - July 2, 2014

(This review is based upon the 1997 (12th) printing of this dictionary. This dictionary was first published in 1973.)

The New Comprehensive Shilo Pocket Dictionary is a very thick (768 pages) Hebrew - English, English - Hebrew dictionary. Although this is listed as a 'pocket' dictionary, it is unlikely to fit into a conventional sized pocket, due to the thickness of the volume. Nonetheless, it is still on the small size, light weight, and is easy to carry around to class or when you are on the go.

I have to admit that I have a lot of Hebrew dictionaries. Some are simply English to Hebrew, one is a 'real' dictionary in Hebrew with Hebrew definitions, and I have a wide selection of Hebrew - English, English - Hebrew dictionaries that are designed for a variety of users, both beginners and advanced. So when I stumbled across the Shilo Pocket Dictionary I was hesitant to get it. After all, did I really need another dictionary? But, I could not help myself. The book was cheap (I got a used copy for $2.50 and new copies seem to run in the 6-7 dollar range), and I could not help myself. I'm glad that I was weak!

The New Comprehensive Shilo Pocket Dictionary is by far the best beginner's Hebrew - English dictionary that I've come across. It has more than 30,000 entries, including phrases. Best of all, the text is clear and easy to read - and as far as 'pocket' dictionaries go, the text is actually readable and it has the biggest font size that I've come across in a paperback Hebrew - English dictionary. This is not to say that the print is large, it is more along the lines of what you'd find in a newspaper. However, the print is very clear and crisp, and the nikkud (vowels) are readable. (I have one dictionary, I'll not name names, that is on the blurry side making the nikkud impossible to decipher.)

In addition, a list of abbreviations used in the text is presented at the beginning of the Hebrew to English section, as well as at the beginning of the English to Hebrew section of the dictionary. In the center of the dictionary, starting around page 450, you'll also find a mini-dictionary of common abbreviations found in Hebrew. There is also a section toward the middle of the book that provides a list of 'word-groups'. Such as lists of items that you might find in the kitchen or bathroom, the office, sports related words, and the like. These lists are not very extensive, but they will aid students in expanding their vocabularies.

Please note that this dictionary does not provide definitions of the words. It simply offers a list of alphabetically organized Hebrew words and their English equivalent, and from the reverse side of the book, a list of alphabetically organized English words and their Hebrew equivalent. Nikkud are used throughout the text.

This is a great dictionary for beginning students at the middle school, high school, college, or adult-learner levels. Being lightweight, this dictionary will also be useful for tourist visiting Israel who are looking for a dictionary to carry around with them. However, the brevity of the book makes it unsuitable for more advanced students. It also serves as an excellent reference book to have around the home. I've been using this dictionary exclusively for several months now, and in all that time there have only been two words that I could not locate in the dictionary. One of these words was 'astronaut,' although it did include astrology, astronomer and astronomy.

All in all, this is an excellent, inexpensive, and a lightweight dictionary. It far exceeded my expectations and it has become my 'go-to' Hebrew-English dictionary! Happy word hunting....


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