In learning any language it is essential to have a reliable dictionary to reference with. When I decided that I will learn Korean the linguistics way, I stopped on buying phrase books and began looking for reference materials that would help me in my objective.
I initially bought a thin English-Korean / Korean-English Dictionary just for the heck of getting one for my basics. It really felt short with my needs as it contains limited words. Then I invested to a relatively pricey one although its just around 11USD or Php 498, I bought Berlitz Korean Compact Dictionary (한국어 사전 – Hankugeo Sajeon) in a local bookstore, PowerBooks.
Unlike the English dictionary, one should be cautious in using an English-Korean / Korean-English Dictionary. Korean has this dictionary form for words specifically on verbs and this is not the form used in a conversation. This is also something that you will miss learning when you dwell too much on phrasebooks. It is also important to note that in a sentence Korean normally uses particles or marker for subject, topic or object. These particles form part of the word and is pronounced without any pause. So the word 나 (Na – which mean I or me) can be heard as:
- 내가 or 내 (Naega or nae) – I as subject in a sentence
- 나는 or 난 (Naneun or Nan) – I as topic in a sentence the second one in contracted form
- 나의 (Naui) – possessive form as in mine or my
- 나도 (Nado) – Me too or I too
I find this dictionary comprehensive enough for my needs. It even contains some modern words and notation if the word is vulgar, colloquial or humble. Notation if word is related to computer, financial, biology, anatomy or which specific part of speed (noun, verb, adjective) is likewise available.
The featured word is printed bold and in color blue so it’s easy to spot what you are looking for. I guess this is a better dictionary compared to the rest I saw while searching for one. There are bigger versions but so far this handy sajon is good enough for me.