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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hey Language Book Producers

I realize you can't afford to stick an entire dictionary for the language you are trying to teach in the back of your book of, say, short stories in Urdu. But how about this: if you're going to include a dictionary at all, perhaps you could see that it has all the words in your book? Just use software to extract a list of unique words from the stories, and, bing-batta-bing, you've got your dictionary. And if that is still too long for your budget? Then strip out the most *common* words, and leave in the rarer ones. Anyone trying to read stories in a foreign language already knows the words for 'man,' 'woman,' 'dog,' 'food,' and 'night.' It's when the author mentions the equivalents of 'scree' or 'spate' that we're likely to be stumped.

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