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Useful English-Japanese Handheld Dictionaries?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the are-you-turning-japanese-I-really-think-so dept.

Education 88

srothroc asks: "I've been interested in finding one of these, but I'm not too sure where to start looking. I've been around the block talking to students and my professor - most people either don't need one for some reason or the other or only use paper dictionaries. Online searches have been fruitless as well, so I turn to you, Slashdot. The ideal dictionary would be able to take hiragana/katakana input and give output in English, hiragana, katakana, and/or kanji. A lot of the ones that I've seen take English (romaji) input and spit out the same - not something I'd need. I would prefer options that wouldn't bust my wallet, as Christmas season is coming around. Any ideas, folks?"

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Sharp, Sanyo, Seiko, etc (1, Informative)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742312)

Just about any electronics store or office supply store has these electronic dictionaires lined up out in front.

Re:Sharp, Sanyo, Seiko, etc (2, Informative)

PurpleFloyd (149812) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742667)

Yes, but the poster specified why those won't work: they only do romaji input and output (romaji is one of several Japanese character sets; it's a way to roughly express Japanese words in the Roman alphabet). Needless to say, the input systems for hirigana and katakana (the alphabets you probably associate with "Japanese") are much more complex and require more than a simple modification of a translator designed for two languages that use what is more or less the same alphabet (English, Spanish, German, French, etc.).

As for my recommendation: you probably aren't going to find a decent dedicated dictionary outside of Japan, and even then it'll probably be expensive. However, as numerous other people have pointed out, there are good programs available for PDAs. A Palm Zire is about a hundred bucks, and there are certainly dictionaries available on the Net (although I don't know anything about their quality). For example, a quick Google turns up this [] , which looks like a decent app that takes hirigana, katakana and kanji, as well as English, input.

Re:Sharp, Sanyo, Seiko, etc (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742926)

Thanks for the help - this does look like quite a useful alternative to buying a dedicated dictionary when a zire would cost less and still be fully dedicated. It hadn't occurred to me to try this.

Re:Sharp, Sanyo, Seiko, etc (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742879)

"Just about any electronics store or office supply store has these electronic dictionaires lined up out in front. "

Thank you for living up to your name.

/. The Flowchart showing THE TRUTH tsarkon reports (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7742314)

Top secret Slashdot document flowchart recreated for your viewing pleasure. This was taken with a micro camera like in the mission impossible movie, but I was dangling over a wet heap of smelly socks and unwashed bodies and they had just passed out from eating frozen pizza, they can't afford the real stuff. I took this picture and digitized it. I narrowly escaped this ordeal and am still mixing Chlorine Bleach and Battery Acid to produce Chlorine gas to get the smell of the Slashdot hovel out of my nose. Unwashed clothing, greasy matter hair, fart saturated furniture at every turn. Open cases of crappy K6 based white-box china-hardware strewn about, half ass 4 wire extra cheesy barely twisted CAT3 wire being used as CAT5 because "it works fine" 400 distributions of Linux lying around messily unboxed and documentation strewn about. The smell of feces was in the air, along with rotting food and marinating sweat from the foul underarms of the Slashdot team. Upon obtaining this evidence I now know more about things are done around here. It is a very interesting process that outlines the depravity of the programming here.


__+-_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--+________|___ _______________
__|_Have_hundreds_of_users_suggested_|____yes_|___ ___/___________\
__|the_feature_to_CmdrTaco_via_email?|________+-_- ->|_WON'T_SCALE_|_-_--_--+
__+-_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--+________^___ ___\___________/_________|
___________________|__________________________no__ _________________________|
___________________no_________________________|___ _________________________^
___________________V__________________________^___ _________________________|
____+-_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_-+_______+-_--_- -_--_--_---+_____________|
____|Will_the_feature_make_Slashdot|__yes_\|Can_ja mie_or_krow|_____________|
____|___even_more_like_a_game?_____|______/|_hack_ it_for_me?_|_____________|
____+-_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_-+_______+-_--_- -_--_--_---+_____________|
___________________|______________________________ ____|____________________|
___________________no_____________________________ ___yes___________________|
___________________V______________________________ ____v____________________|
___+-_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_-+______/__THI S_FEATURE_IS_PERFECT_\___|
___|Can_CmdrTaco_use_his_limited_Perl|_yes\/__FOR_ SLASHDOT._IM_SO_GLAD__\__|
___|____knowledge_to_kludge_it_in?___|____/\___I_T HOUGHT_OF_IT!!!_TIME__/__|
___+-_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_-+______\____F OR_SAILOR_MOON!______/___|
___________________|______________________________ _________________________^
___________________no_____________________________ _________________________|
___________________|______________________________ _________________________|
___________________+-_-->-_--_--_--_--_--_--_--_-- _--_--_--_--_--_--_->-_---+


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Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (4, Informative)

Michael Spencer Jr. (39538) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742357)

Get a Zaurus SL-C760.

(Or if you're technical, you can hack the dictionary software onto a Zaurus SL-C700, as I have.)

The built-in "denki jisho" (electronic dictionary) has four dictionaries: Japanese-to-Japanese (completely useless to me); Japanese-to-English (which takes input in hiragana, katakana, or kanji -- but not romaji); English-to-Japanese (almost completely useless to me, except I can copy the definition into a HancomWord doc or something and paste each individual kanji back into the dictionary going the other way); and Katakana to whatever (so you can tell that 'depaato' means department store, etc.)

Zauruses have excellent kanji handwriting recognition too, so you can just sketch out the character combination you're asking about and it reads it. Even if you make mistakes -- which is pretty impressive.

I hear the SL-C8-something (860?) is the same hardware as the C760 but with extra full-sentence-translation software. That software will probably soon be working on the C700 also.

A Japanese friend at the university has one of the higher-end standalone dictionaries. I don't know who makes hers, but on any search hers seems to have nearly double the definitions and meanings that mine does, or has many obscure words that mine doesn't have.

Expensive, but recommended.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (3, Informative)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742633)

Ahem.. these devices are called "denshi jiten" and not "denki jisho." Denki means electricity, not electronic, and jisho is archaic usage, so you've described an electric dictionarium, not an electronic dictionary.
But quibbling aside, your description of the Zaurus handwriting input is innacurate. You can make SOME errors in input, but you must be able to draw the kanji in correct stroke order, and the strokes must cross each other in the correct pattern. This makes them suitable only for advanced students that can accurately copy any kanji in the correct stroke order. This is usually a skill that only develops somewhere around the 4th year of university level courses. That's when I bought a Zaurus. And the first thing the Zaurus taught me was that I'd been writing hiragana "na" incorrectly for years, it couldn't recognize my handwriting. I was, however, rather astonished to see the Zaurus could accurately read some cursive kanji. These devices are really designed for native Japanese users, so they are designed to accomodate errors or cursive simplifications typical to native Japanese users.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

spectral (158121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743384)

Bzzt, both wrong, they're denshi jisho, at least in the osaka area. Trust me, btoh the foreigners and the japanese people called them this. Also, jisho is the word I've always been taught and heard for any kind of dictionary. I never heard jiten in 9 months of being in Japan.

Any proper education methods should have ingrained in you the radicals and proper concepts of stroke order such that you should be able to copy any kanji by halfway through second year of uni. I know most people were doing it properly with characters that they saw only already assembled after their first semester. That being said, while I draw my kanji correctly, my hiragana and katakana orders are always messed up ;)

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7745835)

Osakaben uses a lot of archaic forms, but I notice you said "denshi" not "denki." I assure you that tokyoben (the national standard) is denshijiten, and that's the word used in the manuals of both my Zaurus and Wordtank (it's even written on the boxes). Some daijiten still call themselves jisho but that is a deliberate attempt to sound archaic and thus sound like an old authority.
Sure you start learning stroke order around 2nd year, but I'm talking about an INFALLIBLE, unerring, ingrained ability to reproduce even the most complex kanji on sight. I'm not talking about the ability to copy 3 or 4 stroke kanji, I'm talking about the really complex ones with 12 strokes or more. Yes, that skill takes a while to develop.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 10 years ago | (#7750130)

Some daijiten still call themselves jisho but that is a deliberate attempt to sound archaic and thus sound like an old authority.

Er... no, it's not. Jiten and jisho are essentially interchangeable, although jiten is slightly more formal, so people tend to use jisho in conversation.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (2, Funny)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7750528)

I suggest you take this up with my language instructor. She's from Hokkaido and has a PhD in linguistics. She made us scratch out every incidence of "jiten" in our textbooks and replace it with "jisho," explaining it was archaic usage. I'll take her word over yours.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (0, Troll)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7750580)

oops, I got that backwards, dammit. She made us scratch out the archaic "jisho" and replace it with "jiten."

Dammit, now you've even got me doing it wrong. I always say it takes hours of listening to native speakers to undo the damage from one minute of listening to bad Japanese students. Go peddle your incorrect usage elsewhere, I have more important things to do than repair the damage you're doing.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 10 years ago | (#7750791)

I love these people who take a couple of courses and think they know everything.

I have a dgree in linguistics from a Japanese university, I worked as an editor at a Japanese publishing company (among other things, editing J-E/E-J dictionaries), and I've lived in Japan for fourteen years.

Come back when you've got some real experience with the language, OK?

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (0, Flamebait)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7750971)

Yep, I have a Japanese linguistics degree, lived and worked in Japan, blah blah blah. Let me know which jiten you worked on so I can avoid it.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 10 years ago | (#7751087)

Jesus, you just don't know when to give up, do you?

I do translation on the side: the Amazon Japan listing for one of the books I've translated [] (E->J; check the translator's name against my nick).

If you still don't believe me (and don't come up with some lame excuse like "You just searched for somebody whose name matches your nick"), come onto #slashdot on; my nick there is the same as my /. nick.

Why don't you just accept that (a) you were wrong and (b) other people knowing more than you is not a personal insult.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 10 years ago | (#7751370)

Grr... make that

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (0, Flamebait)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7751988)

ROTFL!!! You translated a picture book about beer! I bet that was a whole lot of work.

Face it, you're an old Japan burnout that sneers at everyone who arrived in Japan one day after you and calls them "fresh off the boat." You've "gone native" and try to out-Japanese the Japanese, declaring yourself an authority over the judgement of native Japanese PhD linguists I cited. I've seen a hundred old burnouts like you. I used to pity them, now I just avoid them.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752349)

Oh for fuck's sake. IHBT.


Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 10 years ago | (#7750947)

By the way, since you don't seem to be the type who'll accept anybody's word but your own, let's look at Google.

Denshijiten: 300,000 links []
Denshijisho: 544,000 links []

Now, shut up about things you don't really know about, hmmm?

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

rpenguin (47905) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756146)

In my college courses, which are by no means accelerated, we started on stroke order from our first kanji on. The explanation as to why kakijun was hammered into us was because of its benefit in using dictionaries. I've not yet completed my second year and we've learned a decent number ofkanji with 12 strokes or more and most high stroke kanji are comprised of smaller kanji/radicals that you learn early on.

Furthermore, every kanji writing recognition system I've used has been somewhat forgiving about common stroke order errors (vertical line or horizontal line in/through the box first? depends!) and mistakes regarding stroke count. Therefore a user is not required to hone their kakijun skill for 4-5 years to be able to gain use from kanji writing recognition.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

3riol (680662) | more than 10 years ago | (#7781479)

Well, I won't call myself authoritative, but having spent a month in Japan with people who needed their denshijisho rather often in order to communicate with me, I didn't hear "denshijiten" a single time... (though this was indeed in the Kansai area) I suspect that jisho is in fact more common usage in spoken language, jiten being more formal and the "correct" term for the product.
As for stroke order, don't go around scaring prospective japanophiles please. :-) It's very logical really - I've studied Japanese for less than four months, and I can rather reliably reproduce characters of over 12 strokes if they contain the more basic elements : the rules are mostly respected, except for rarer cases such as migi/hidari, kanarazu, etc, and of course characters based on them, but in those cases it's only needed to learn the stroke order of that particular radical.
I'm rather sure you could precisely learn Kakijun in a year or so - I haven't even had the luxury of a full-time university education in Japanese (as a lowly Information Science second-year I have 35-hour weeks). As a reference, I've been using Hadamitzky and Durmous' "Kanjji and Kana", which by the way has an excellent introduction.

As for online dictionaries, for the beginner to intermediate, Jim Breen's WWJDIC [] is an invaluable resource, with example sentences and (yes) stroke order for most all the joyo kanji.

Oh and just to nitpick, Tokyoben does exist as a dialect distinct from standard Nihongo, as far as my humble knowledge goes.

Stroke order is easy (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 10 years ago | (#7744548)

I taught myself Japanese in the navy, on a ship homeported there, and learned stroke order from a couple of cheap books. Once you get the general idea, the rest follow. If it took you until 4th year of university, you must be relying on memory alone, and not doing a very good job of it. It's just a matter of learning some basic tricks they use, like why guchi is three strokes instead of four, the general flow. That will get you 99% of the stroke order within a few days.

Re:Stroke order is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7750158)

That's 'kuchi', not 'guchi' ;) (It only becomes 'guchi' when following on from some other syllables, as in 'iriguchi/deguchi'. 'Guchi' by itself means 'bitching', as in "He was bitching at me all day about how much work he has to do".)
Sounds like you need to work on your reading rather than your writing...

Re:Stroke order is easy (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 10 years ago | (#7769788)

"Guchi" is in fact a legitimate kunyomi of "ko" (kuchi). Unless you want argue with the Mombusho, whose toyo kanji listing clearly shows "guchi" as one of the readings.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

Michael Spencer Jr. (39538) | more than 10 years ago | (#7745840) seems you're mostly right. No place better than slashdot to get a correction I suppose :)

In support of what you said: it turns out Jisho is correct [] , but that denshi [] jiten [] is also right. No wonder Japanese exchange students were looking at me funny, but not correcting me, when I said "denki jisho". It's a shame nobody said anything to me before you did, but thanks for the correction. *memorizes denshi jiten* :)

Strange, though, but the default menu option for the dictionary calls it Jisho [] .

You're probably also technically correct about kanji handwriting recognition. I'm just a third semester student, and I can usually sketch out an unfamiliar kanji well enough for the Zaurus to understand it. Sometimes I put two strokes where one goes, sometimes I put one stroke where two strokes go, sometimes I get the order wrong. Almost always, for unfamiliar kanji, the one I wanted isn't the first one that comes up. I just tap the kanji with the pen and it shows me a list of other possibilities.

If the one I need isn't in there, I look at any similirities between the ones that *are* in the list, and make sure my next attempt at writing it looks different from that.

So I think you're probably does really take about four years to be able to do that accurately and reliably. I think I'm right also -- if the student has a little bit of skill, the Zaurus's handwriting recognition is smart enough to look past most mistakes. By contrast, the simple handwriting recognition in the Zaurus app KanjiNirvana doesn't tolerate *any* errors.

I don't know if you've used the Zaurus's kanji handwriting recognition, but apparently Zauruses are famous for theirs. [] I make a lot of handwriting mistakes, especially with new and unfamiliar kanji, and the Zaurus picks up what I intended most of the time -- when I'm already kinda familiar with the stroke order. The Zaurus picks up what I meant to write about a third of the time, when I'm unfamiliar with the stroke order and just roughly copying down what I see, and don't mind scrolling through a list of alternates.

So I'd say: if this is your first semester learning kanji, I don't think you'll be able to use the handwriting recognition the way I do. If this is your second semester or later of studying kanji, go for it. It's my second semester also, and it works for me. :)

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7745912)

ha.. you will find that native Japanese speakers are extremely hesitant to correct your spoken errors, even if you ask them to. They won't do it even if you DEMAND it. It's frustrating sometimes, but it's one of those cultural things.
BTW, I used to use my Zaurus when chatting with exchange students, every single one of them had electronic dicts with keyboards (cheap Seikos usually) and once they saw the Zaurus, they all said they wanted one.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

PetrusMagnusII (309326) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752146)

Dude what are you thining.. it:s a denshi jishyo bro.. jiten is the japanese reading of the chinese word for dictionary.. jishyo is japanese.. jiten is used only on old dictionaries and not in the modern japanese language. my seiko is a denshi jishyo. all of my teachers here in japan call them denshi jishyo... and i would reccomend seiko .. good brand.. pretty much everyone here at my school (be them chinese, japanese, american, ) they will have a seiko or a sony.. seiko becuase it:s good.. sony becuase it says sony on it.. :) most models have the same actuall dictionary in them, it:s just how you interact with the dictionary.. this is where seiko dominates in my option.. darin (btw.. i go to school here )

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 10 years ago | (#7757840)

Stroke order (or "kaikijun" - as we're so damn correct in this thread) is in fact pretty easy.

But for a very few characters that are particularly tricky (like "kanarazu": it's not "kokoro" with a slash through it), just about all others are easy to guess after about a year of study I'd say. This is because the majority of kanji are comprised of repetitive components that follow simple rules (like "kuchi", "yama", "ito" and the like).

Mind you, my university course contained one shuji class a week, which helps a great deal to understand kakijun, but even if you don't have that benefit I really don't think it's as big a deal as you make out.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 10 years ago | (#7757889)

> Stroke order (or "kaikijun" - as we're so damn correct

Nooo! I meant to type KAKIJUN.

Serves me right.

Re:Get a Zaurus SL-C760 (1)

pocopoco (624442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743673)

You can run other dictionary programs on the 760 as well. So if you are used to looking things up in edict on wwwjdic you can easily keep doing edict lookups on the 760 with babbletower (which also supports flash cards). There are other programs like zbedic and qtjiten and other dictionaries like ejiro you can get working as well. I also had one of the JavaDict's working which supports skip lookups among other things (in case you don't know stroke order ;p).

A 760 is expensive, but of course there are other benefits. I keep a huge number of Japanese web sites mirrored on mine and slowly read through them when I have time, for example. ^^ It also plays anime decently as well, provided you transcode down and run the screen at 320x240 instead of the usual 640x480. Biggest drawback besides price is that the screen is not very easily readable outdoors, but the high resolution is great anywhere else and the battery lets you keep it bright longer than any of my PPC's ever did.

Make your own! (4, Informative)

Kaeru the Frog (152611) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742385)

Here's [] a pretty popular web based dictionary. I used it for a while but became dissatisfied with the interface. The dictionaries [] it uses are avaible and pretty much free to use as you wish. I wrote my own front end for the dictionaries in a weekend and I am very happy with how much more useful it is.

Re:Make your own! (1)

spectral (158121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743396)

Jeffrey's [] is a really good online dictionary that I believe uses the same dictionaries. I have quick searches set up in firebird to make it even easier, for single word translations e->j and j->e, as well as skip code lookups.

Just type j-e oyasumi in to my location bar and up comes a translation.. meccha benri na.. ;)

PDA (3, Interesting) (629916) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742440)

Just buy a cheap PDA, either Palm or Pocket PC, and install dictionary software on it. For Palm you can get the shareware KDIC. It gives you more flexibility and choices than a dedicated dictionary.

Re:PDA (1)

neil_rickards (563887) | more than 10 years ago | (#7745025)

I've been very impressed with PAdict [] which is free, and RoadLingua [] which is not and requires a hack such as CJKOS [] .

When I looked at the hardware denki-jisho (and to some extent the dead-tree variety) I found the ones using kana/kanji were aimed heavily at Japanese (usage examples, etc.) and the foreigner targeted ones, without exception, used romanji. I failed to find a dedicated device that would fit your (or my) needs. Sorry.

Looks like there's a gap in the market!

My advice... (4, Funny)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742448)

... is to forget about the gizmos and just take a crash course in learning the language. But taking a class can be expensive and boring. That's why you want to spend time watching hentai instead. Most of them have handy subtitles on the screen so you can match the words with what's being said. You'll learn all sorts of handy Japanese phrases that will help you in everyday life such as:

  • "I want to have sex!"
  • "So good! So good!"
  • "Hey, get that tentacle out of there!"

and so on. Trust me, a few hours spent boning-up, I mean, studying-up on the Japanese language using these video materials and you'll impress everyone you meet!

Hope this helps,

well here goes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7742498)

Taking your good advice, i recommend anyone wanting to pick up japanese girls to try this on them, yes, just walk up to any random female on the street and say:

annata wa manko misete kudasai ... this is a real chick magnet!

Re:well here goes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7742516)

I haven't studied Japanese in three years, but even I can translate that for the rest of those of us who don't know Japanese.

It translates, more or less, as: Can I please see your pussy?

Re:well here goes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7742563)

"You are a please display your pussy."

Re:well here goes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7742584)

I think the parent poster means, "annata no manko o misete kudasai!".

The ultimate handheld dictionary (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742788)

can be obtained here. [] They have multiple advantages, they're more pleasurable to hold in your hands than electronic devices, they know ALL the words, and the batteries never run out. On the down side, the batteries never run out, even when you wish they WOULD, maintenance costs are extremely high, and after a few years of use, you'll lose interest in speaking Japanese ever again.

Re:My advice... (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742873)

Ah, yeah. I do take Japanese - was looking for a nice dictionary to supplement the vocabulary I'm lacking in - especially as I may possibly be studying abroad with the Associated Kyoto Program and if accepted would definitely run into words that I didn't know.

Re:My advice... (1)

spectral (158121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743404)

Honestly just go to a store when you get there.. The good ones are unfortunately san-man en ijou.. I didn't have 30,000 yen available for spending, so I had to make do without. Most of the japanese people I knew went to the same uni (kansai gaikoku go daigaku) and were studying english, so they had varying qualities of denshi jishou on them at most times. They laughed when I pulled out my paper dictionaries, but sometimes I beat them at finding the proper definitions, jsut because they had a hard time spelling the english words ;)

Re:My advice... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752482)

They have cell phones with dictionaries now. Very useful, and eliminates the need to carry one more loseable droppable electronic item around with you.

J-List may have what you want... (4, Informative)

Rastor (8752) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742459)

To get a really good Japanese dictionary, you're probably going to have to go to Japan. Fortunately, there are importers such as J-List which will happily provide you with such things [] .

Re:J-List may have what you want... (1)

hbackert (45117) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742889)

I've got a Canon IDX-9600 which is suitable as a Japanese-English dictionary (for Japanese people), but it can be switched to have an english menu and it can translate English in Japanese too (as all those dictionaries can), but it also shows you the Hiragana reading of japanese Kanji (which most electonic dictionaries don't do, as Japanese can read the Kanjis).

This makes it perfect for using as a non-Japanese speaker. The only drawback of that IDX-9600 is the slow speed (turn it, on, wait 1 second, push keys, but not too fast) and the medicore display.

I recenly got a Japanese-English-German electronic dictionary from Sharp (XD-R7100) which is much faster, much better display, can do English and German (bonus for me), but when I translate something into Japanese, I don't know how to read the Kanji (I can find out, but it takes about 10 key presses). This machine is clearly made for Japanese, not foreigners.

Re:J-List may have what you want... (1)

Rukasu (219436) | more than 10 years ago | (#7750111)

> To get a really good Japanese dictionary, you're probably going to have to go to Japan.

Nope. Sorry. I'm in Japan and have been looking for a good one for 4 months. There are a lot to choose from, but all of them are in Japanese. Unless you can read the language to start off with, it's not much use. Asking for the definition of any Japanese word will return the definition in Japanese. Nearly all of the devices here are for Japanese native speakers.

Not quite but... (1)

gklinger (571901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742474)

It isn't exactly what you are looking for but you might find this [] interesting. Ectaco [] have lots of useful traslation programs. Hope that helps.

Canon Wordtank (1)

Eric Pierce (636318) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742547)

I never have owned such a devices, but I'm a native English speaker and spent 4 years in Japan.

Of the handful of E-Japanese/English dictionaries that I've seen friends using and/or in stores, the Canon Wordtank seemed to rise above the rest in my rusty recollection.

Fanatic's site: []

Ebay - Canon Wordtank []

Ganbatte ne!!

Re:Canon Wordtank (1)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 10 years ago | (#7744332)

Canon's Wordtank is the coolest little thing you can get for the money, just about. Before offering advice I searched the thread for Canon and discovered that I'm not the only one who realizes this. Canon's offering ought to be cheap enough for a Christmas expenditure without breaking all but the flimsier (read: my) holiday budget. I knew a friend who had one when we were in Japan together and it was a great tool for exploring new vocabulary and solving existing problems.

Re:Canon Wordtank (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 10 years ago | (#7770892)

I had one of those in my days in Japan. A lifesaver. Sadly mine has long since died.

Re:Canon Wordtank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7787621)

The Wordtank rules. The kanji stroke searching thing was a lifesaver navigating Osaka.

Get realistic here (4, Informative)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742583)

Either you haven't given sufficient information on your needs here, or you haven't given sufficient THOUGHT to your needs here. You give vague guidelines for what you're seeking, like for example, you want to input kana and have it output kanji. You must be a beginner, because you don't seem to realize there is no one-to-one correspondence between words written in kana and kanji. For example, when I write the kana "seikou," do I want the kanji meaning sex, a political platform, success, or any of a dozen other homonyms? A dictionary is not a mindreader, it doesn't know what you want, you can only get out of it what you know how to get out of it.
So what I'm getting at is, dictionary needs are different for beginners than for advanced students. A beginner who isn't skilled at writing kanji will not get along with a Zaurus, an advanced student will be frustrated with a WordTank model that would satisfy a beginner.
I usually tell beginners to buy a Wordtank, and advanced students to get a Zaurus. But no electronic dictionary is a substitute for a paper dictionary. I use my Zaurus mostly when writing, to doublecheck the kanji when I know the reading. I use my Zaurus mostly when reading, to quickly look up an unknown kanji for the reading & definition. But I usually end up using the electronic lookup as the entry point for the huge 2100 page Kenkyusha New JE Dictionary, on paper. If I want more specialized data like etymology, I pop in my Kojien CD. If I want classical Japanese lookups, I use a paper kogojiten (haven't found a good electronic kogojiten yet).
But I have found that I use my portable dictionaries less and less. Free online dicts like WWWJDIC and the dictionary have made portable devices less useful to me.
Ultimately, portable dictionaries are a crutch. I often think of a news story I saw with someone demonstrating an electronic "speaking translator" in Spanish. It could say basic phrases like "Can you direct me to a nearby taxi stand?" They used this device, and that exact phrase, on a Spanish-speaker, who immediately understood the tinny little voice, and shot back a rapid fire answer, in Spanish of course. Which was completely incomprehensible to the person with the device. The answer would have to be given back through the device, the person giving the answer would have needed to learn how to input his answer and spit it back out through the device.
So what I'm basically trying to tell you is that electronic dictionaries are not going to do much good for beginners, they're more useful for advanced students who really don't have that much need for dictionaries generally. Even some of the basic skills needed to effectively search for words are beyond most beginners, I know I wasn't taught how to use a paper dictionary until I was in 2nd year classes. So save your money for good TEXTBOOKS, you'll learn to speak Japanese without having to consult a dictionary every two words.

Re:Get realistic here (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742885)

Thanks for the input - as you have guessed, I am a beginner and was simply looking for something portable that would help me when I ran across an unfamiliar word simply written in hiragana or a strange loanword that I couldn't decipher, or in some cases, a kanji I couldn't figure out. From what you (and others!) have said, the Wordtank would definitely seem to be what I'm looking for. I appreciate the time you took to clarify things for me.

Re:Get realistic here (2, Interesting)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742988)

Unfortunately the Wordtank is going to be a big pain in the butt for kanji lookups, it's barely better than a paper dictionary, since you need to use the same index system as a paper dict. That is, you need to know the stroke count and the radical, or the reading, just to locate the kanji. Once you're there, you can then use "jumping search" to find jukugo using that kanji. A Wordtank is barely faster than a paper dict when looking up kanji. But it does the job, and it's lighter than most paper dicts. The WT's best feature is kana J-E lookups, they're very fast, and you'd use that a lot. The WT also has an English menu mode and also has a flashcard function, so you can mark words as you do lookups and drill them later. The WT also has furigana above kanji, which aren't available on many devices targeted at native Japanese users (i.e. the Seiko units).
I still think beginners (especially absolute newbie beginners) start with a cheap "learner's dictionary." They're cheap, which is good because you'll toss it out later when you get better. Definitions and examples are usually expanded and more appropriate for learners. There are kanji learner's dictionaries too. These wouldn't necessarily be appropriate for advanced students, but they're great for beginners. People have spent hundreds of years figuring out the best ways to study Japanese and the best methods are still often the traditional ones. Just as an example, I have never seen any beginning Japanese computer instruction programs that weren't anything but pure crap.
One more cautionary tale about dictionaries. I once wrote an essay for my J class about the working hours of Japanese vs. American workers. After the class, the teacher came up to me with the essay, pointed to a word I'd picked from a dictionary that translated as "worker," and asked, "WHERE did you get THAT word?? I want you to completely forget that word exists, and use the regular conventional word. You chose a word with a very derogatory connotation." I admitted I just picked it out of a dictionary, I assumed it was a perfectly good synonym and used it because I was bored writing the same word for "worker" over and over. So a dictionary won't teach you everything about a word.

Re:Get realistic here (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743012)

The other thing I'm starting to seriously consider is the zire solution. I'm not looking for anything complicated here - simply a solution to help me patch up my admittedly small vocabulary for the time being. The zire also seems to have the advantage of being dynamic - I could apparently upgrade to a more advanced dictionary as time goes by and I find that I need one instead of buying a whole new unit. I realize that dictionaries are not meant to be used as crutches and truly don't intend to use it as such - only as I'd use an English dictionary; that is, when I run across a word that's unfamiliar, whether it's written in kanji, hiragana, or katakana.

Re:Get realistic here (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743090)

I've never seen the zire, but I wouldn't worry too much about upgradeability. Consider that electronics are always getting cheaper, by the time you outgrow the zire, you could probably buy a new machine cheaper than upgrading. And if you get to advanced levels, you will probably own at least one advanced paper dictionary like the massive Kenkyusha New JE. No portable electronic dict can come close to a comprehensive paper dict. Many of the electronic devices use the same dictionary database (usually the Gakken dict), they're targeted at looking up the most common words you encounter. That's the bulk of your lookup tasks.
But then, YMMV, I went through a particularly tough program, and by the time I got to 4th year, I think I owned 9 or 10 different paper dicts and two electronic ones. Kanji dicts, EJ dicts, JE dicts, dicts of idioms, of verbs, etc etc. It gets to be expensive. I remember taking a 4th year class with a particularly torturous set of texts. I used to show them to native speakers and even they couldn't read some of the words. I found one complex word that even our teacher couldn't decipher, we showed it to every teacher in the department and they were all stumped. They ditched that textbook halfway through the semester. Ha!

Native Japanese speakers (1)

sushi_steve (713062) | more than 10 years ago | (#7748893)

I've taken three years of Japanese lessons at my (public) high school in Fort Worth, Texas. As you might expect from a Texas school, the class was very barebones. Our teacher had lived in Japan for four years as part of a military family, but her immersion classes hardly brought her close to fluency. But it was filled with eager students, so we've done alright. What I have done to learn Kanji, aside from my textbook and trusty pocket dictionary, is to find native Japanese speakers to help me out. I'm active in my city's local branch of Sister Cities International, and one of our cities is in Niigata, Japan. When we get potential visitors, they call my household and ask if we'd like to host a student or two. This way they get a free place to stay, and I can bug them about Japanese language. If something like this isn't possible, then you could find someone in your local that speaks it, either through a club, or maybe a restaurant and ask them if they can help teach you. This last summer I spent ten days in Japan, and in those ten days I learned 10 times as much as i learned in three years of a classroom.

Re:Get realistic here (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743009)

oops, correction: I meant to say I mostly use my *Wordtank* when writing to check kanji, and the Zaurus when reading. What I wrote made no sense. Sorry. But it should point out that even a WT, the "beginner's dict" will have good long-term value. At least it did for me.

Advantages of Zaurus (1)

GCP (122438) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743340)

I usually tell beginners to buy a Wordtank, and advanced students to get a Zaurus.

In what ways is the Zaurus better for advanced students than the WordTank? (I've never used a Japanese Zaurus, so I'm not arguing, I'm asking.)

I rarely have trouble with stroke order, BTW, but I still frequently need to look up Japanese words and kanji or find a good translation for an English word. The easier and faster, and the more info, hypertexting between dictionaries, examples, jukugo, furigana, etc., the better.

Re:Advantages of Zaurus (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7745760)

The zaurus is better for advanced students just because of the handwriting input of kanji, it is much faster to use than a keyboard, IF you're capable of using it accurately and can write kanji well. The kanji dict allows you to search by inputting radicals and components, it's pretty amazing. Yes, once you locate one kanji or word, you can hypertext to other dicts or entries with just a couple clicks.
It also has furigana only in the kokugojiten (gives definitions in Japanese). Since there are no furigana in the other dicts, that could be frustrating for beginners, but advanced students should probably be relying on the kokugojiten just for the extra practice. Also the Zaurus only has Japanese menus, it's above the heads of most beginners, but won't cause problems for advanced students. Plus, of course, you get PDA functions (which I never use) but if you want it, there it is.

Re:Get realistic here (1)

Michael Spencer Jr. (39538) | more than 10 years ago | (#7746044)

I'm starting to think I shouldn't have even replied to this user's other post.

: : You give vague guidelines for what you're seeking, like for example, you want to input kana and have it output kanji. You must be a beginner, because you don't seem to realize there is no one-to-one correspondence between words written in kana and kanji.

That's completely normal. That's how Japanese people do it. You press keys on your keyboard that indicate kana, hit the space bar, and it suggests a kanji. If it suggests a kanji you didn't intend, hit the space bar again and get the next most likely.

A dictionary helps with that -- it doesn't hurt. For example, I looked up 'tsuku'. [] (Those letters at the top are simple phonetic characters "tsu ku" -- they don't each have a meaning, they're like letters of the alphabet. Sounds only.) The dictionary shows me a ton of different kanji that have the same pronounciation. If I click a different kanji up top, I get its meaning on the bottom.

Completely normal. The poster suggested that because the person who submitted the article wants to do this, they must be a beginner and so shouldn't get a dictionary.

That statement is a pretty likely sign that we're being trolled. One can't both insult someone else for being inexperienced and not knowing what they want, and also make that kind of mistake. Interested moderators might also want to look at this post [] if you think this guy is trolling, or at least being excessively negative (and wrong about it) on purpose. (He's probably right about "denshi jiten" though.)

Re:Get realistic here (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752491)

you want to input kana and have it output kanji. You must be a beginner, because you don't seem to realize there is no one-to-one correspondence between words written in kana and kanji.

Ever used a Japanese cell phone? That's exactly what they do.

Dokusha (2, Informative)

the_greywolf (311406) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742716)

i went looking around on PalmGear [] and eventually found copies of Hanabi (a great non-free flash-card kanji/kana learning system for Palms) and Dokusha (a quite comprehensive free(?) dictionary and word processor also for Palms) that turned out to be exactly what i personally needed. only problem with Dokusha is that it takes up over 6MB for the main dictionary and Kanji dictionaries, and IIRC, occupies about 12MB when you include the name dictionaries.

all I need is (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742805)

The phrase "We need a raise in Valkurm Dunes. J-6"

Hire a kogal (1)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742882)

You can find them at your local burusera.

Get a Palm! (1)

dagbrown (126362) | more than 10 years ago | (#7742986)

I have a Japanese Palm m505 which I picked up used in Tokyo. As a dictionary, it rules. One of the things on the CD that came with it was a nice, handy Japanese-English dictionary--it does J->E and E->J lookup, and lets you look up a kanji by a clever dictionary-switching interface.

The Palm lets you write Japanese in romaji (which is way more confusing than you'd think), or, alternately, it has a program called, "Rakuhira [] ", which lets you write in hiragana in the Graffiti area, the way Kami-sama intended.

Plus, you can play Bejeweled on it.

Made in Japan (1)

driptray (187357) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743125)

Japanese-English dictionaries are all designed for Japanese people, as they massively outnumber English speakers trying to learn Japanese. As such, the dictionaries assume that you know kanji. This is problem number 1.

So, you type in an English word, and you mostly get kanji in return. Some of the Canon wordtank models give you a list of search "hits" in hiragana/katakana, but then once you choose your hit, it takes you to the word definition page, and you're all in kanji again.

But, most models have a "jump" feature, that lets you select some kanji, and then "jump" to the hiragana reading, or even to an English definition. It's kinda circular, and not very convenient, but you can manage to get from English to Japanese this way.

As for entering hiragana, most Japanese people use romaji, even for typing Japanese.

Re:Made in Japan (1)

spectral (158121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743426)

Interesting to note is my host family had a pretty low end electronic dictionary when I was in Japan. My host mother and father knew next to nothing about computers and barely were able to work this thing.. they used hiragana input similar to cellphones: find the 'ra' and hit it again for 'ri'.

I was so much quicker at the romaji that I always switched modes on them. My host sister when she used it also used the romaji input (it was a qwerty-style keyboard too).. *shrug*

sounds like you want an import.. (1)

molo (94384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743130)

Sounds like you want one that is aimed at japanese speakers.. or, well, people that can read hiragana and katakana.. so, you want one aimed at a Japanese market.

Seiko makes a number of models, which rage from around $170 (USD) to $285. Check out the Seiko JP-Dict [] website for more info.

As for places to purchase in the US, I found an ad in "US Frontline [] " (a US magazine for Japanese expats) about "Bargain Japan [] ", which appears to be a reseller of Japanese products in the US, and is a subsidiary of Frontline. They have handheld dictionaries here [] .

I havn't used one of these yet.. so I can't comment.. but hope this helps.


Chinese Mandarin Pinyin Dictionaries (1)

adporter (135648) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743352)

I have a similar problem - Trying to get an English to Pinyin electronic dictionary. All my Chinese students have electronic dictionaries, but none that I have seen can translate directly from English to Pinyin, enabling me to say something useful in China. If I could read chinese characters I wouldn't need the dictionary!

Has anybody seen a suitable one?

JWPce (1)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743389)

If (by some strange coincidence) you're running a windows CE-based palm, you could give JWPce [] a shot - it is written more as a word processor, but it has kanji lookups and a pretty decent dictionary. It's GPL and will also run on regular windows if you want to give it a quick run-by.

Re:JWPce (1)

GTRacer (234395) | more than 10 years ago | (#7746246)

Hear hear!

I have JWPce running on my Jornada 420 (don't laugh) and on my XP box at work.

I use it a lot when trying to read one of the many Japanese magazines or books I have. It accepts kana or Kanji input when looking for the meanings of Japanese words. I've never used romaji, and normal English searches for English in the definitions. And almost all the definitions are accompanied by Kanji, kana and English. Very handy!

Input using the stylus is easy if you have kana - you type the romaji for the kana and kana appear: Type sakuranbo and the kana goes in the text box.

- XP's IME outputs in an odd format...

And for Linux... (1)

leoboiko (462141) | more than 10 years ago | (#7743849)

Not really on topic, but Linux (and other free Unix-like systems) users learning Japanese I recommend
gjiten [] + kanjipad [] + im-ja [] for a good dictionary system (you just have to convert Jim's dictionary files [] to UTF-8, iconv(1) is your friend).

What other Japanese-related software slashdotters like?

Canon WordTank (1)

Isao (153092) | more than 10 years ago | (#7744512)

Kana or Romaji input, and on sale [] for US$150.

Canon has more than a decade of history providing Denki Jisho to the Japanese market.

Canon Wordtank (1)

Space Cow (93479) | more than 10 years ago | (#7746461)

Simple question, simple answer. Get a Canon Wordtank.

The Wordtank models are single purpose (unlike a PDA) and do the job they were built for well. Look up Japanese (kana and kanji) from English, English/Kanji from kana. Menus are available in English. I used a Wordtank constantly for the first 3-4 years of Japanese study. The Wordtank dictionaries have probably improved, but I never trusted the definitions in the Wordtank as being more than a best estimate. You will end up using a paper dictionary in conjunction with the Wordtank, but nobody wants to carry around a bulky dictionary all the time.

I am no longer current on the Wordtank models, but this website [] should provide you with enough information to make that decision on your own. Avoid romaji based dictionaries (they will stunt your learning) or ones targeted at the Japanese market (by the time you have the skill to use one, you won't be asking Slashdot for help in choosing).

Two recommendations for online dictionaries:
Jeffrey's Japanese-English Dictionary Server []
Space ALC []

Good luck with your studies. It will enrich your life in many ways.

wooterski (-1)

p-unit*or*die (729031) | more than 10 years ago | (#7748313)

qwerty qwerty qwerty qwerty will rule all qwerty qwerty qwerty qwerty you will call qwerty qwerty qwerty will rule all...

I'm lost! (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 10 years ago | (#7749762)

Catch me up here!

With so many people talking about learning Japanese here, can we get some pointers where to start? Mostly, I'd want to be able to read techinical documents [servicing imported machines for work..oh and add german too. ha, ha], websites, and of course [and most importantly] to understand enough japanese so I can watch the unedited import anime!


Re:I'm lost! (0)

l0tu53at3r (176637) | more than 10 years ago | (#7750117)

Your local community college invariably offers foreign language instruct at a reasonable cost. Check it out. Oh, and don't buy your text book from the college bookstore, utilize e-bay and amazon if you possibly can.

Re: Starting with Japanese (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752001)

1) Memorize the kana symbols (both hiragana and katakana, there are roughly 100 of each but they're paired, hiragana is used for Japenese words, katakana used for borrowed words). Look around the bookstores for elementary level books (Jimi's book of Japanese, etc.). If you know your kana and their pronunciations, you've got a shot at getting started.

2) After that you're going to have to start learning grammer and memorizing kanji. This is where the hobby starts to get expensive... dictionaries can be $50+, learning software and audio tapes are typically pricey, college courses are never cheap. I probably have $300 worth of materials on my shelf and I'm only a beginner.

For simple word lookups, I currently use my Basic Japenese-English Dictionary $19 (ISBN: 0-19-864328-4). All the entries are indexed in romanized style which makes it possible to find words you've only heard.

best handheld translator ever (0)

l0tu53at3r (176637) | more than 10 years ago | (#7750089)

I work with a Japanese woman who came here to the US, and one of the first conversations we had was about how she boned up on English before coming here. Coming from that tech savvy island, she had alot of gadgets to choose from and tried quite a few. In the end, though, she chose one and I still see her refer to it alot. What is it, you ask? Webster's Japanese-English Paperback Translator. Yes, thats right, from someone who knows someone who has gone through the trials of this very problem, the best handheld device is indeed a book.

Re:best handheld translator ever (0)

l0tu53at3r (176637) | more than 10 years ago | (#7750100)

BAH! I neglected to indicate that it is a two-way translaltor, half the book starts English and gives you Japanese, other half starts Japanese and provides English equivalent.

big honkin spreadsheet dictionaries (1)

zumbojo (615389) | more than 10 years ago | (#7751444)

My Japanese textbook, Nakama 1, has a companion site [] provided by the publisher and authors, with some small additions made by Japanese lecturers at American universities. One of the resources that I initially thought would be useless was the spreadsheet-based dictionaries (first year [] , second year [] ). These have proven quite valuable, especially since you can use Excel with the Office Japanese IME (offered for free from MS) to search the text in English or Japanese.

Re:big honkin spreadsheet dictionaries (1)

zumbojo (615389) | more than 10 years ago | (#7751455)

oops - here is the correct link for second year [] .

Excellent Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752275)

On my Japanese-model Clie, the following applications make an excellent solution.

KDIC [] )
Shareware dictionary front-end.

Free Japanese-English/English-Japanese dictionaries

Radic []
Look up kanjis by radical, for when you don't know the pronunciation.

PocketKanji []
Draw simpler kanjis in a box and have them recognized.

All of these together make for a pretty great and complete solution whenever I am reading or writing Japanese.

It boggles my mind that people are saying "you should learn the language instead of using a dictionary". One of the best ways to learn a language is by reading, and no matter how many hours you spend in a classroom, you WILL eventually run into a word you don't know and can't intuit.

Spotty cow whiffs ancient happy mulch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752352)

Kind of a seaweed bright rice bucket climbing arduously gardening implement - old horse-like crysanthemum blinking honored grandmother coming back returning never.

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753874)

I've been interested in finding one of these,

One of what?

JWPce (1)

TheAB (38019) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754805)

I have been studying japanese for about 5 years. I first bought an old Canon Wordtank(IDX-9600) in Den Den Mura (osaka's version of akihabara), and it served me well for my first year or two of study. Then it simply couldnt keep up. Word and Meaning only dictionaries arent great if you want to really learn a language. Some of the recently new dictionaries ($350+) range have awesome dictionaries, various word lookups methods, and great explanations/examples (in japanese/english), a thesaurus, and more, which are all extremely helpful. The 9600 has some explanations, but its poor in comparison to the newer models, like the IDF-4600 [] , at 45,000yen.

Another alternative is JWPce [] . I've been using it for about 4-5 years now and its a great quick desktop japanese dictionary. Its real basis is the word processor, which i rarely use, but the dictionary is quick and easy. It runs on a PocketPC as well. I got in the habit of using it before translation sites on the web became popular, so they might be of good use as well. WWWJDIC is very good.

There is a big catch to comparing the 9600 with some of the newer models (most available only in japan), that for a beginner, good luck using it. They are not meant for an int'l user, and are mostly in japanese. Menu's, explanations, etc are mostly in japanese. Once you get to 3rd year or so, you would probably do fine.

But the question of paper vs. electronic dictionary? I dont think you realize how time consuming large paper kanji dictionaries are. And wait til you are translating a 20,000 character essay. There will be kanji you dont know, and it will take hours and hours. Electronic lookup is your best hope.

Suggested Solution: Start off with a cheap Wordtank 9600 (or the like) and JWPce and websites. If you are always in front of a computer somewhere, you dont need to pocket dictionary. If you are travelling through japan, or are not often able to access the internet when you need to lookup something, its worth it. But for your first couple years, basic kanji lookup and word definitions is all you need to know. If you are still studying japanese in 3+ years, you will want/need an upgrade... especially if you travel there. By then, the IDF-4600 will be old and outdated, and you'll want whatever is the newest model.

Good luck learning japanese. If you are in the US, and you want to "touch-and-feel" good japanese dictionaries and cant get to japan, check if you live near a mitsuwa [] store, which is a huge japanese grocery store. There is usually a japanese only bookstore adjacent to it, which will have some dictionaries to look at. Expect high prices though.

Rikai (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7784088)

If you're reading nihongo online, Rikai [] can save you time: just move the mouse pointer over a word you don't understand to popup basic readings and meanings.

As others have noted, online dictionaries are much harder to use for offline text if you don't know how to input the kanji (keyboard kanji input systems are phonetic, which assumes you already know the pronounciation of the word you want). The Tejina [] handwriting pad popup is a start that may help the first years after you've learned stroke order principles; once you get it to recognize some kanji you can paste them to a word dictionary (the Tejina dictionary only has info on individual kanji characters).

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