The Best English Dictionary App

The best English dictionary app for Android could easily be Merriam-Webster. I wholeheartedly recommend it to all students and learners. These are the reasons.

Fair Price

Yes, I’m referring to the paid version of Dictionary – Merriam-Webster. There is a free version as well, but why bother when the app costs only $2.99. Compare that with other app dictionaries in Google Play Market, and you will immediately see why this is a clear win. Kudos to Merriam-Webster for making their English dictionary available to the learners who cannot afford overpriced editions of other publishers.

Functional Design

The Merriam-Webster application is clean, modern and functional. Type in the word to get brief explanations (if you only need to refresh your memory, just look here). Scroll down to see detailed definitions. Flick left or right to browse your past words. A menu reveals favourites and Word of the Day. If in Dictionary, tap the clearly visible T button to switch to Thesaurus (yes, it has thesaurus as well!), and tap D to return. Tap the words throughout the app to jump to a new heading.

Rich in Linguistic Content

Merriam-Webster app offers a dictionary page with brief and full definitions (idioms,  phrasal verbs, pronunciation…), many origins, synonyms and antonyms, usage notes. As previously mentioned, it has Thesaurus as well, fully integrated with the definitions and grouped by synonyms, related words, near antonyms and antonyms.

Dictionary that Works Offline

As expected, the paid version works offline. However, there is a restriction: prerecorded pronunciation will play only online (but, I don’t think this is a big issue).

To conclude, Dictionary – Merriam-Webster is an excellent app to learn and improve your English language. I recommend it to all people who need a decent offline dictionary/thesaurus on their phones and tablets.

Correcting Wordfast and Wordbee XLIFF locale code error

If you export files from Wordbee platform and then try importing them into Wordfast Pro, the latter might report the following error: “Error converting .xlf. … Reason: Invalid locale code”.

Wordfast Pro error display
Wordfast Pro error display

If this happens, you will need to edit the files manually.

  1. Locate your XLIFF file and open it in a text editor. It has to be a plan-text editor to prevent file corruption. I recommend Notepad++ because it formats the XLIFF display.
  2. Search, at the top, for target-language=”sr-Latn-RS”. In my case, because I translate to Serbian, the value is sr-Latn-RS:
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?><xliff xmlns:wb="http://www.wordbee.com/Xliff" version="1.2" wb:xliffId="foo" wb:sourceId="foo" wb:sourceName="foo" wb:translationsIncluded="1" xmlns="urn:oasis:names:tc:xliff:document:1.2"><file source-language="en-GB" target-language="sr-Latn-RS" original="foo.xlf" datatype="x-xliff" wb:fileId="foo" tool-id="Wordbee"><header><tool tool-id="Wordbee" tool-name="Wordbee" tool-company="Wordbee" /></header><body>
  3. Delete the part that identifies the language. Then, add a new value from ISO 639-2 page with the language codes. The snippet should now look like this: target-language=”sr”. Be careful not to delete other characters (=, “, <, >) to prevent an error.
  4. Reopen the XLIFF in your Wordfast Pro. IMPORTANT: Revert the process to upload to Wordbee (edit the files and insert the initial language code).

Wordfast Pro and Wordbee are examples of commercial CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) software. Notepad++ is a free and versatile Windows plan-text editor with code highlighting (on Linux you can use Kate or Gedit).

Asking questions with the verb “mean”

Asking questions with “mean” can be confusing. Let’s dive into the explanations.

Question form with ‘mean’

This is how you construct a question with the verb mean:

What does ‘auxiliary’ mean?

Don’t use: What means ‘auxiliary’?

Preposition ‘by’ in questions with ‘mean’

If you form a sentence like “What do you mean by ‘auxiliary’?” you are asking about the sense of the word (“Could you please explain the meaning of ‘auxiliary’ in this particular context? Does it refer to ‘grammar’ or ‘production’?”).

“What do you mean…?”

One more thing. If you form your question with “What do you mean (by)…” you might be expressing protest or annoyance. For example:

  • What do you mean you aren’t using private cloud computing? (Forbes)
  • What do you mean by waking me up at this time of night? (Swan)

Here’s a text about the noun mean/means (this above is the verb).

Reference: Swan pp. 329-330