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No Loss for Words


Words, words, words! That's one thing the Web has plenty of. Occasionally we need help making sense of them. Online dictionaries cover languages, characters and concepts and range from the invaluable to the inane.

If you're studying Spanish, or just trying to figure out whether you've been complimented or cursed at, you can click on This dictionary has more than 54,500 entries with thousands of audio pronunciations. The site also lists some basic words in groups, such as colors and verbs. For those with a Casio hand-held computer, there's a downloadable Spanish dictionary.

Maybe it's your German that's, well, schlecht. Travlang offers a dictionary, basic words and a quiz at It also offers an in-depth grammar handbook,, that covers definitions, conjugation and inflection.

While you can find just about all the Romance languages online, some other language sites stand out.

Instead of gyro-worshipping from afar, click on, where you can learn Greek online in 105 lessons. The site includes vocabulary and discussion boards.

Maybe you're aiming to impress your friends for Kwanzaa this year by starting sasa to learn Swahili. Check out, where you can find a translation dictionary and pronunciation guide.

For those looking for characters online, forget about chat rooms and online dating. Check out the Chinese dictionary at It includes Mandarin, Cantonese and Hakka readings and character meanings. (And it doesn't require a Chinese-enabled browser.)

Maybe you've been searching the cobwebs of your mind for the right word in English. You're looking in the wrong web! Check out to summon words in several online dictionaries. Although it is "one look," it's not one click. But it sure beats having to strap on a weightlifting belt to gather as many dictionaries. A similar site is, which offers dictionaries of grammar, synonyms, antonyms and others; a language guesser to help when you're trying to identify the origin of a foreign word; and links to related sites.

Say you're watching the upcoming doctor drama "Gideon's Crossing" and you want to see whether you've got Sphingomyelin lipoidosis, stat. Hurry over to the computer and check out plain-English translations of doc talk at The explanations are written by physicians.

It could be time to extend your knowledge of hand signals beyond what you've picked up while driving L.A. freeways. The sign language site at gives you slow-moving examples of how to form words with your hands and repeats the movements four times.

In addition to formal languages, dialects and slang expressions can be just as useful in getting around.

With the Olympic Games in Sydney, maybe you and your cobber have a barney over who's going to take the gold in synchronized swimming--and you've put big bikkies on that. Find out what the heck you've got on the line for that sport at

Been left behind in the technological revolution? You too can sound like a chip off the old Silicon Valley block. Wannabe-techies can learn the lingo at; hard-core technophiles can submit their own terms.

Those in search of surf-speak can storm and (Note: There's no beach here, dude. Don't bring the board.)

And if you're just trying to look as if you're hard at work while you're really surfing the Web, check out for an explanation of the symbols in your e-mail reminiscent of Prince, or the artist formerly known as o+>.

But sometimes you just want to get "jiggy wit it" when the mood strikes you. Here's one way to understand what Eminem is really saying between the bleeps and what your kids plan to do when they say they're gonna take the hooptie to the LBC. Peep this:

A word of caution--just don't try this stuff out at the next PTA meeting.


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