But I Already Know the English Words

April 7th, ©2013 Marcus Brooks | Link
Havill: Scavengers Book Cover

A Kindle Spanish dictionary is useless in "English" ebooks.

CHAT: You are now connected to Sanjeev from Amazon.com.

Me: I’m reading a bilingual English/Spanish book [on Kindle]. I just bought the Mirriam Webster’s Spanish/English dictionary to help me understand Spanish words in the text. The default dictionary setting appears to be separate for English and Spanish dictionaries, and the dictionary I just bought appears to be selected as the default Spanish dictionary. However, I still cannot see definitions for Spanish words in the text, only for English. How do I fix that?

[Update 8 Apr 2013: Mike Sheldon kindly emailed me a GPL2 Spanish-English dictionary hacked to work in English books. If you want it, use this link, here, to download, then copy the file (Spanish.mobi) to your Kindle's documents folder via USB and set it as your default English dictionary.]

Sanjeev: Hello, my name is Sanjeev. I will be happy to help you.

Me: I will be happy if you can.

[Yeah, yeah, cut to the chase, 9 April 2013: Neither tech helped. Elsewhere I've learned there is a language tag in every Kindle ebook. The Kindle will not use or even search any dictionary that doesn't have the matching language tag. As mentioned above, Mike Sheldon built me a public-licensed Spanish dictionary with an "incorrect" English tag, so now I can look up many Spanish words that turn up in my English books, but not English ones. Ideally, Amazon should update the Kindle software so it checks the matching dictionary first, then any default dictionary that is available for other languages. I'm not holding my breath.

The following is just for the record.]

Sanjeev: Shea, Is it on your 2nd kindle?

Me: Yes. For now.
BTW, I’m Shea’s hubby. Marcus.

Sanjeev: Oh, Okay Marcus.
Let me check the details once.

Me: As many times as you need.

Sanjeev: Thank you for waiting Marcus.
Do you have the kindle with you?

Me: Yes.

Sanjeev: Please tap and hold the power button for full 20 seconds and then release it. And restart your kindle.

Me: You mean press and hold, right? Working…

Sanjeev: Okay.
And it will restart the kindle, Let me know when it is done.

Me: Made it 30 for good measure. Seems to be done.
It put me back on the home listing.

Sanjeev: Okay.
Now let me provide you the steps again to add the dictionary as default.

Me: OK.

Sanjeev: To change the default dictionary:

  1. Press the Home button, press the Menu button, and then select Settings.
  2. Use the Next page or Previous page buttons until you see the Dictionaries heading, and select the edit link.
  3. Using the 5-way controller, select the language you want to set the default dictionary for and choose the default dictionary for that language.

Me: Working…

Sanjeev: Let me know when it is done.

Me: There is only one Spanish dictionary. It is already default.

Sanjeev: Okay and now please check for the issue again on the book.

Me: No change. I get definitions for English words. Nothing for Spanish. The Spanish words I’ve checked are “comida” and “querida.” I know for certain that comida should be in a dictionary. I’m surprised it’s not in the English dictionary.
Well, maybe not.

Sanjeev: In that case it seems that there is some issue with the dictionary.
You need to delete the dictionary once from your account and then again download it your kindle and then check.

Me: Delete once? What do you mean?

Sanjeev: Please delete the dictionary from your kindle device once and then download it again to your kindle.

Me: Not sure I remember how. While I work on it, maybe you should look for someone who might actually know what to do.

Sanjeev: Are you able to see the dictionary on your kindle home screen like books?

Me: Hang on, still re-downloading.

Sanjeev: Okay.

Me: Yes, I can. Also, the re-download didn’t change anything. BTW: I found another Spanish dictionary in the library. [Edit: Our account's online archive.] Hang on while I try that.

Sanjeev:  Sure.

Me: OK, I made the other dictionary the Spanish default and it doesn’t work, either. Is there a default language setting that affects the reader?

Sanjeev: I am checking the details for dictionaries.
Is it now working for any single word?

Me: Only English words. BTW: I just checked both Spanish dictionaries for my test word, comida, and both dictionaries have that word, but I can’t access them from within text.

Sanjeev: The other dictionary is also not working for any spanish word?

Me: Correct. BTW, the other dictionary is Spanish-Spanish (i.e., reference, not translation), so even if it worked it won’t help me.

Sanjeev: In that case I am sure that there is some issue with dictionary and I will refund the order for you and will send a request to our team to work on it to resolve the issue.

Me: Nope. I just downloaded Don Quixote in Spanish. The Spanish dictionary works there. But that still doesn’t help me in the book I’m trying to read.

Sanjeev: Please provide me the name of the book.

Me: Hang on…

Sanjeev: Okay.

Me: _Scavengers_ by Steven F. Havill. copr. 2004, 2011, ePub ISBN: 978-1-61595-084-3.
Sorry, the second copr date is 2010, not ’11

Sanjeev: Okay, Let me see and while I am checking the book please delete the book and download again this book to kindle.

Me: OK. Working…

Sanjeev: Have you done that?

Me: Hang on, I’m being thorough…
OK, my Kindle has six books by four different authors that contain the word “querida.” The dictionary only works for that word in Don Quixote. It seems there is a book attribute for dictionary language. How do I change that?

Sanjeev: In that case I need to send the details to our development team and they will surely look and resolve the issue and then there will be an update for the book and you need to download it after that and the issue will be resolved.

Me: OK. Remind them how stupid it is that I can’t look up a foreign word when I’m reading a book in English, if I have bought and paid for a compatible translation dictionary. English authors use foreign words all the time, and I already know all the English words that are likely to be in a dictionary. (Well, maybe not all the words. But almost.)
When can I expect to hear from someone about this fix?

Sanjeev: Surely I will add the notes for this, I will make a follow up for this on my end and I will send you an email confirmation when the issue will be resolved and As you have spent a lot of time with this issue, I will apply a $15 promo as a compensation from amazon.

Me: OK, but remember that a fix would be far more useful to me than a $15 promo.

Sanjeev: I can understand this and I will be surely attentive in this issue.
Thank you for your kind understanding.

Me: Hmmm. Are we done for now?

Sanjeev: Yes, Have a great time ahead and there will be an email confirmation to you for this promo.

Me: OK. Ciao.

Sanjeev: Bye, Take care!


CHAT: You are now connected to Saurabh from Amazon.com.

Me: This regards a chat I just completed with Sanjeev. I want to clarify something.

Saurabh: Hello, my name is Saurabh. I’ll be happy to help you today.
Please provide your concern in detail to me.

Me: In the previous chat, Sanjeev said, “there will be an update for the book and you need to download it after that and the issue will be resolved.” That will actually not resolve the issue as I see it.

Saurabh: I am sorry for this. May I know the name of book?

Me: I will not consider the issue resolved until I can look up any word in any book, so long as I have a default dictionary selected that contains that word. For example, if I see “querida” in an English language book, and I have a compatible Spanish translation dictionary that contains that word, I should see a definition when I select the word.

Saurabh: Did you set this dictionary as default dictionary?
Don Quijote (Spanish Edition).

[Edit: here I missed that he thinks Don Quixote is a dictionary.]

Me: No, not Don Quixote, that works. I have five English language books from three publishers that contain the word “querida,” for which that dictionary does not work. The specific book I started this issue with is _Scavengers_ by Steven F. Havill. copr. 2004, 2011, ePub ISBN: 978-1-61595-084-3.
Sorry that’s 2010, not ’11.
The spanish dictionaries can only be set as default for Spanish, not English.
It would help if I could set _any_ dictionary as default for _any_ book, but ideally the reader should check the default dictionary for each available language before giving up when it looks for a definition.

Saurabh: I understand your concern and I am really sorry for the trouble regarding this.
We will surely look forward on this issue.
I appreciate your feedback on this issue.

Me: And?

Saurabh: Unfortunately it is not possible that kindle will detect the dictionary automatically. You should select the default dictionary before reading the book.

Me: I CANNOT select the dictionary I want to use. It won’t let me. I can select a default for each language, but the books I’m reading are bilingual, and the reader ignores spanish words in a mostly-english book.
The reader’s word-lookup, I mean.
_IF_ I could change the default language for the book from English to Spanish, that would help. I wouldn’t be able to look up English words, but I know most of those.

Saurabh: Is there any dictionary in your kindle device for “English to spanish”?

Me: Uh, no. How would that help? I need Spanish-to-english, and I have one of those.

Saurabh: Please check this link:
Click here
Will it be fine for you?

Me: Depends on if it works. How do I “borrow for free”? I am a prime member, but I don’t see that button. [Edit: Claimed option with no corresponding button.]

Saurabh: I have a solution.
I will issue $2.99 promotional certificate on your account and you can place the order for this dictionary
Is it okay?

Me: We’ll see. (Although that seems stupid since I’m supposed to be able to borrow it for free.) Hang on while I try it…

Saurabh: If you borrow it for free, than you can have it only for 30 days
If you purchase it, you will get it forever

Me: I only want it for five minutes if it doesn’t work.

Saurabh: I have issued $2.99 promo on your account
You can purchase it now
You will not be charged.

Me: It’s downloading. Hang on.

Saurabh: I suggest you to make it default dictionary
And then check the book
It should fix the issue.

Me: Nope. It doesn’t show up in the Dictionaries setting as either English or Spanish.
What now?

Saurabh: Please press and hold the power button of kindle for 20 seconds and then release. After this press power button of kindle for 2 seconds to turn it on.
Once you do it, please let me know

Me: Already trying that. It’s restarting.

Saurabh: ok

Me: Nope. It still doesn’t show up in the Dictionaries settings list for either English or Spanish. But there’s nothing in the book description that says it’s compatible with the Kindle dictionary feature. It’s just an e-book.

Saurabh: Just a minute

Me: Look, I just wanted you to tag onto Sanjeev’s ticket that I want the fix to work for any book. Before they do anything useful I’ll be finished with this one anyway.
I mean, if you can fix it, great. There’s probably a bit I can flip somewhere that’ll work for me, but I doubt anybody in your bullpen knows where it is.

Saurabh: Click here
Please check this dictionary
And also check this:
Click here

Me: OK. What the heck, I’ve got all day. Hang on…

Saurabh: I am sorry for the trouble regarding this.
Nuevo Diccionario Inglés-Español ANGLOS v.2.1 (Spanish Edition)
This dictionary should fix the issue.

Me: Nope. That one just shows me the spanish for any english word I select. Not what I need. The other one doesn’t work any better than the other two spanish dictionaries I already had.

You do realize you’re thrashing now, don’t you?

The reader is determined to only use an English dictionary on “English language” books. It’s ignoring foreign words in those books. Likewise, I’m sure it only uses the Spanish dictionary in “spanish language” books, and if one contains an English word, it ignores those too. That’s the problem I want fixed.

There’s nothing wrong with the dictionaries. The reader’s programmer just never imagined a book that uses more than one language.

Saurabh: I am really sorry for this. We will surely look into this matter.
And try to make this issue fixed

Me: I hope so. In the meantime I’ll just make sure all my friends know they need hardcopy translation dictionaries handy if they want to use a Kindle to read Havill, or Sayers, or Shakespeare, or…, golly, the list goes on and on.
Meanwhile I guess I’ll go try to return all those extra dictionaries I just bought.
Are we done?

Saurabh: You can return the additional dictionaries from manage your kindle page from amazon.com account
We will try to make this feature available on kindle device regarding dictionary issues.
Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Me: See if you can let me know if you ever fix this. Otherwise there’s no way I can tell when its’ worth trying again.
I think I’m done for now.

Saurabh: I will forward this issue to our concerned department. They will look forward for this, I am unable to provide exact time limit for making this feature available.

Me: Yeah, I know. Hasta la whatever.

Saurabh: Thanks for visiting Amazon.com. We hope to see you again soon! Have a nice day. Bye.