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Corbeil, Jean-Claude.

Toronto, Stoddart, c1986. 797pp, cloth, $29.95, ISBN 0-7737-2093-6.CIP

Grades 8 and up
Reviewed by Joanne K.A. Peters

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

Rarely does the publication of a new dictionary excite much interest. However, the recent translation into English of Jean-Claude Corbeil's Dictioimaire thematique Visuel has been greeted with considerable media coverage. Corbeil is a Canadian linguist of world renown in the fields of comparative terminology and socio-linguistics and has served as a consultant for both the Robert and Larousse dictionaries. His considerable expertise is demonstrated in both the wide range of subjects presented and in the precision of the terminology used to identify various illustrations.

As the title of the book suggests, the dictionary contains page after page of thematically grouped illustrations, so that you can find either the word for an object that you know by sight (but not by name), or a picture of an object that you know by name (but have no idea of its physical representation). The material is arranged according to very general categories, such as "astronomy," "geography," "the human body," and so on, and three indexes are provided (general, thematic, and specialized).

Corbeil has neatly solved a problem often faced by users of various information retrieval systems: that of having a general idea of what you want to find, but not being able to select the right label or descriptor that will direct you to the appropriate source. While not every reader will be interested in the introduction, which contains information on the methods by which the dictionary was compiled, the "Usage Guide" provides very clear and concise instructions as to the means by which users can find what they are looking for.

However, it is the illustrations that educate, fascinate, and entertain. The quality of the draftsmanship is excellent and despite an injunction at the bottom of each drawing, warning that "No Reproduction (is) Permitted," I predict that many teachers will find it hard to resist the temptation to disregard copyright laws. For obvious reasons, teachers of English as a second language will find it a particularly valuable resource for their students. As a general reference work, The Stoddart Visual Dictionary is superb, and will be useful in virtually any subject area from home economics to physical education to mathematics.

Joanne K.A. Peters, Sisler S.S., Winnipeg, Man.
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