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Japanese Dictionary

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Japanese Dictionary

Postby afrocheesecake » Sat 04.26.2008 12:22 pm

I'm looking for a good Japanese dictionary that will last me for ages, and about.com lists Kodansha's Communicative English-Japanese Dictionary as the best. Is that right? If not, which should I get?
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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 04.26.2008 12:27 pm

Unfortunately there really isn't a dictionary that is good both for beginners and for more advanced students.

The best Japanese-English dictionary is the Kenkyusha ("Green Goddess"), but it's quite expensive and very bulky. Most of the good J->E dictionaries are only printed in Japan, unfortunately.
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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby jimbreen » Sat 04.26.2008 7:55 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:The best Japanese-English dictionary is the Kenkyusha ("Green Goddess"), but it's quite expensive and very bulky. Most of the good J->E dictionaries are only printed in Japan, unfortunately.


I agree. Make sure you get the 5th edition (2003); not the older 4th edition (1974).
You can get it on a CD, or subscribe to it online for about Y6k a year (which I do.)
With the online version you get several dictionaries, and it is continuously updated.

I foolishly bought the paper version just after it was released. It just sits on
the shelf now. :(

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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby Wakannai » Sat 04.26.2008 9:10 pm

I foolishly bought the paper version just after it was released. It just sits on
the shelf now. :(


Nod. Yup, the bigger the dictionary, the more intimidating it gets. At least for me. I bought an unabridged dictionary, big monster tome, but after giving it a few tries, I always looked in my collegiate Webster's first and since it always had the word I was looking for, never used the other again. For Japanese, when my internet access is down I'll look first in my Kodansha's Kanji Learner's dictionary before I dust off my New Nelson.

Since the OP mentioned Kodansha's Communicative English-Japanese Dictionary, which is E>J not the other way around as in the above two posts. I'll throw in my humble opinion that as far as E-J paper dictionaries go, yes That is the best. Although, it is hardly the only good E-J dictionary.

The fun with Japanese is, you need a good E-J dictionary; a good J-E dictionary; and a good Kanji dictionary. E-J/J-E dictionaries always seem a little lacking if word count or in depth explainations matter. Electronic dictionaries generally have several different dictionaries in memory so you get the best of both worlds. But they are very expensive. If you are just starting out and don't live in Japan. Paper is better I think.
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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby afrocheesecake » Tue 04.29.2008 3:32 pm

ok thanks for the help! It hadn't struck me about dictionaries being one way only (which is fairly stupid as i have had to buy multiple french dictionaries before now), so being a beginner, would it be more sensible to just buy a little J-E-J dictionary for now, and get better ones when I am more advanced?
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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby two_heads_talking » Tue 04.29.2008 4:15 pm

I picked up my Kenkyusha's sometime between 1990 and 2000, I forget exactly. so I have the 4th edition of it. I noticed the new 5th edition runs about 500 dollars, I don't remember the 4th edition being more than 150 dollars. What is the difference in the dictionary that calls for an increase of 350 dollars?

As for using a small pocket sized dictionary, I used/use the Sandseido's concise dictionary. I think I have the 11th edition and I believe the current edition is 13.
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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby spinizuey » Tue 04.29.2008 4:54 pm

If you know the kana (but if you don't - learn them as soon as possible), a great dictionary is Kodansha's Furigana J-E, E-J dictionary. It has been a huge help for me so far, because it's targeted towards learners and provides thousands of example sentences. (Get it way cheaper on Amazon)
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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby becki_kanou » Tue 04.29.2008 9:34 pm

two_heads_talking wrote:As for using a small pocket sized dictionary, I used/use the Sandseido's concise dictionary. I think I have the 11th edition and I believe the current edition is 13.


I second this! Before I got my electronic dictionary I always used Sanseido's pocket concise and I was very happy with it. Also it was quite cheap and the size is really conveniant.

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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby Wakannai » Tue 04.29.2008 11:12 pm

afrocheesecake wrote:ok thanks for the help! It hadn't struck me about dictionaries being one way only (which is fairly stupid as i have had to buy multiple french dictionaries before now), so being a beginner, would it be more sensible to just buy a little J-E-J dictionary for now, and get better ones when I am more advanced?


Well, unfortunately, even with a J-e, e-j dictionary, you will still need a kanji dictionary at some point. I like the Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary best right now. It's nice and compact but still has a lot of targeted information for a beginner or intermediate student.

There are two really good starter E-J + J-E dictionaries. Which is better for you will depend on your needs. The furigana dictionary was already mentioned. It's a bit more robust so it will last you a bit longer than the other one I recommend, but I personally like the Oxford Started dictionary better.

For me, format is very important since the way a dictionary is laid out can dramatically impact how easy it is for my mind to grasp new concepts since I am a visual thinker. I found the appendixes more helpful and the が and を markers for verbs was an intuitive way to learn to differentiate between transitive and intransitive verbs, I also found the usage notes more helpful with the Oxford dictionary.

Over all, I'd say both of these dictionaries are equally useful. The difference seems to be a matter of personal taste. So check them both out if you have the opportunity first. They are often both available at the barnes and noble to check out. Even though the furigana dictionary will last you a little longer, you will still have to drop the e-j + j-e dictionary for separate j-e and e-j dictionaries at some point, unless you go electronic where you can have many dictionaries at once.
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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby becki_kanou » Tue 04.29.2008 11:43 pm

Wakannai wrote:....unless you go electronic where you can have many dictionaries at once.


Actually if you have the cash to drop on it, this is what I would really recommend.

My electronic dictionary (Casio Ex-word Dataplus2) is by no means the top of the line, but it has E-J, J-E, 広辞苑, a kanji dictionary, a medical dictionary and small travel dictionaries for English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Korean and Chinese all with speaking capabilities. And that's in addtion to various other theme dictionaries AND it's a calculator too!

I never leave home without it.

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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby Wakannai » Wed 04.30.2008 12:06 am

I keep on resisting going electronic. I'm really good at dropping things, and books usually survive a sudden meeting with the floor, but I've noticed electronic stuff doesn't work so well. But I do admit, I'm finding it more and more tempting every day....So much so, that I'm starting to get the itch.
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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby Harisenbon » Wed 04.30.2008 12:45 am

Wakannai wrote:I keep on resisting going electronic. I'm really good at dropping things, and books usually survive a sudden meeting with the floor, but I've noticed electronic stuff doesn't work so well. But I do admit, I'm finding it more and more tempting every day....So much so, that I'm starting to get the itch.


You might want to look into one of the smaller "keitai" versions that Canon puts out like the C50. They're smaller, and have less words than the G70, but they're incredibly rugged and good for carrying around with you. I've dropped mine in all manner of places and it's still running. I've also been able to find pretty much every word I've ever needed to look up in there. And that's taking into account that I'm a TRPG gamer and look up all SORTS of bizzare words.
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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby becki_kanou » Wed 04.30.2008 12:46 am

Wakannai wrote:I keep on resisting going electronic. I'm really good at dropping things, and books usually survive a sudden meeting with the floor, but I've noticed electronic stuff doesn't work so well. But I do admit, I'm finding it more and more tempting every day....So much so, that I'm starting to get the itch.


I'm really good at dropping things too, but you can buy always a protective case for your dictionary. The one I have is made of a semi-hard foam and it has a clear plastic sleeve inside that goes over the keyboard so you never even have to take it out of the case.

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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby Wakannai » Wed 04.30.2008 1:05 am

sigh...

Alright, that's it. Time to start researching what's available. Unfortunately, I really want japanese voice samples of words. Just like merriam-webster.com does. So that is probably going to get me stuck with one of the more expensive models.
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Re: Japanese Dictionary

Postby spinizuey » Wed 04.30.2008 5:21 pm

I also have a nintendo DS with the "Genius" (forget the japanese name) j-e, e-j dictionary. You can just draw the kanji on the screen and presto - english equivalent! Of course the "game" is entirely in japanese, but it's easy enough to figure out after you mess around with it for a while.
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