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July 17, 2008 / Marco

Nokia Dictionary Deserves Encomium

I’ve seen a wide range of Symbian S60 dictionaries on the market and all of them can easily rival or surpass their PC-based counterparts. For instance, Epocware offers high-quality bilingual and monolingual SlovoEd dictionaries,
Merriam-Webster dictionaries,
Oxford dictionaries,
PONS dictionaries and Duden dictionaries. Many of them also have native Symbian sound modules. As another case in point, Mobile System provides feature-rich bilingual and monolingual Cambridge dictionaries,
Collins dictionaries,
Duden and PONS
dictionaries.

If you want to take advantage of these dictionaries, you have to pay out of your pocket. However, handsets like the E66, E71, 6220 classic and 5320 XpressMusic come with an application which has been plainly titled Dictionary. Although not as all-inclusive as the dictionaries mentioned above, Nokia Dictionary does a great job of translating words from one language into another in addition to displaying definitions in case of monolingual use. Best of all, it’s free. If you’re a Symbian S60 screen reader user, I’m happy to inform you that it’s the only completely accessible dictionary in the Symbian S60 3rd Edition arena.

By default, Nokia Dictionary makes use of the English language, but you can use the URL I provided above – or follow the application prompts – to download and install more languages. Note, however, that the number of extra languages is limited to two, meaning you should uninstall a language if you want to download and install another one. Simply put, at most three language packs can be put to use simultaneously. Currently Nokia provides support for up to 41 languages – excluding English, and languages like Afrikaans, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Urdu can also be found on the Download page.

How to take advantage of the application

To use the Dictionary, you should specify the Source and Target languages via the Languages submenu as you start the application. Of course, if you specify nothing, the source/target language would be set to English. If you don’t download additional languages, the Dictionary asks you to do so each time you start it, but you can ignore this prompt and continue using the built-in English database. Before typing the first word, pressing “Key 1” displays the following menu items:

Once you start typing the word which is to be looked up, the dictionary suggests possible matches and you can move around the list via Up/Down joystick. As you land on the desired word or finish typing it in toto, select “Translate” from the menu or press “Select” to see the translation or, in case of monolingual use, the definitions. The translation/definition window allows you to listen to the pronunciation of the looked-up word via the handset’s built-in TTS engine or change the font size. These features can be accessed via the available menu items. Having read the definitions, select “New search” from the menu to initiate a new search or simply press “Key 2” to return to the search edit box. The use of “Key 2” doesn’t remove the previously looked-up word from the edit box as opposed to the “New search” feature.

Known limitations

As I briefly mentioned earlier, Nokia Dictionary doesn’t provide comprehensive data bases compared with commercial ones. For example, it provides the following minimalist definition for “Iran” via its English database: “Large country in the Middle East.” More important is the fact that the dictionary provides no definitions for words like “de facto” and “au courant”. Neither does it support cross-referencing to help users look up words inside definitions. “Wild card” support is also missing. Above all, it is to be seen if and when future Nseries and Eseries firmware releases would make it available to everyone. Currently just the handsets I mentioned above have this application pre-installed.

These limitations aside, this is the best applications Nokia has managed to build into its handsets and I should appreciate Nokia’s efforts for supporting as many languages as it can. As a free application, it can easily keep your money intact because it efficiently satisfies everyday needs unless you want a dictionary with more killer features.

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One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. Amir / Jul 17 2008 12:18 pm

    Nokia hasn’t yet provided the public with a download URL to the dictionary engine, meaning currently it can’t be used with each and every S60 3rd Edition handset. That might or might not change in the future. BTW, in this blog I’m not going to talk about cracked applications or hacked phones.

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