Monday, February 27, 2012

Italian electronic dictionaries: an update

Several years ago I had written a couple of posts on the Italian dictionaries available online or on CD:

Patches for Italian dictionaries on CD-Rom


English-Italian dictionaries: CD-ROMs and online

After almost six years, someone wrote to me today, asking for further advice, since her copy of the Rizzoli-Sansoni dictionary no longer worked, even using the suggested patch:
I happily used this dictionary on my XP machine until this morning: when I clicked on it, it opened with the word list but without the definitions as occurred before the patch install. I worked for 2 hours trying everything I could think of, including trying to reinstall the patch.
I have a few questions which I hope you can help me with:
  1. Is there a patch for Service Pack 3 for the Sansoni? Would that be the problem? The old patch will not even re-install. It says it cannot find the my reasoning is perhaps it has something to do with Service Pack 3 or some recent upgrade from Microsoft. 
  1. I found a site that has a CD ROM Ragazzini 2011 for 50 Euro. Are you familiar with it? If you are, do you like it? Is it also tied to the web as is the Sansoni? I was really hoping that if I have to spring for a new dictionary, it would be complete in itself and not depend on the availability of the Internet or be at the mercy of upgrades of Service Packs and operating systems.
I like the Sansoni because I can search for phrases, for instance on Friday I looked up "beat around the bush" and found the correct phrase to use. The on line dictionaries only allow you to search for a word. I absolutely need a dictionary that can do the phrase search.
To sum it up, I would like to repair the Sansoni if possible and then would definitely be open to buying a new dictionary on CD Rom with these features: not accompanied by a hard copy, one that is stand alone and not tied to the web or updates to computer operations and very importantly, can search for phrases.
I answered my correspondent by e-mail, but since I think this could be of general interest, I’m reposting part of my answers here:

The old Rizzoli-Sansoni dictionary (and other dictionaries on CD-Rom based on the same Edigeo software, such as the Picchi English-Italian and the Tam Spanish-Italian) work in Windows 7 without any need for a patch. Using the old patch (available from the Edigeo Web site), they still work - at least on my old XP laptop, which I keep updated with the latest patches from Microsoft, so I don’t think the problem has to do with Microsoft: a more likely explanation is the interference of some other piece of software.
For anybody for whom the old dictionaries no longer work, there are several options available:
  1. Upgrade to Windows 7 – your dictionary problems might go away, but you would have to pay for the new OS, and, if your laptop is too old or does not have enough resources, Windows 7 might not run well on it (or not run at all). Also, of course, there is no guarantee that an old dictionary will keep on working – any Windows update might break them.
  2. Contact Edigeo: they created the software for Rizzoli-Sansoni, and might be able to help.
  3. Instead of trying to get the CD-Rom for the Ragazzini, I suggest instead a subscription to Ragazzini (and maybe some other dictionary: they offer several different general and technical dictionaries) from the Zanichelli online dictionary site. The yearly subscription is cheap: about 10 Euro per dictionary (prices vary depending on the dictionary you are interested in).
    The advantage there is that you always have the most up to date version of the dictionary. The disadvantage, of course, is that when you don’t have access to the Internet you also don’t have access to your dictionary. The Ragazzini online does allow full-text search, so you would still be able to find phrases.
  4. From the site you can get a variety of dictionaries as downloads (for about 40 Euros per dictionary), or as online subscriptions (for about 20 Euro/year). Among the dictionaries offered, there is the Sansoni, but they also have Picchi and several other good dictionaries.
  5. Rely on the many dictionaries available online for free. I’ll write an update to my old article soon, to see what is now available, and what no longer is.
    Remember, however, that free online dictionaries, even when they offer the full contents of the paid versions, usually limit search to headwords only (no full text search).