Is there a reliable online English to Japanese translator?

Have a textbook or grammar book that you find particularly helpful? What about a learning tip to share with others?
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Pkmn Trainer Abram
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Is there a reliable online English to Japanese translator?

Post by Pkmn Trainer Abram » Tue 05.27.2008 2:25 am

I am currently learning vocab words by writing them out in sentences, using both kanji and kana. My vocabuary is quite limited so I needed to find a quick way to find out how to use my existing vocab in the correct way using this method. Nothing is more counterproductive than drilling errors.

I checked the sticky help thread and no go. I did a search on Gateway and came across this one:

http://www.emailaddresses.com/online_translation.htm

However I fear that this way is prone to errors I don't need. Are there any reliable online translator programs that I can use?
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chikara
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Re: Is there a reliable online English to Japanese translator?

Post by chikara » Tue 05.27.2008 2:35 am

Pkmn Trainer Abram wrote:..... Are there any reliable online translator programs that I can use?
Short answer, no. :)

Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Text/Word Translation does a good job of translating the words in Japanese text but you still need to have knowledge of Japanese grammar to make sense of it.
Pkmn Trainer Abram wrote:I am currently learning vocab words by writing them out in sentences, using both kanji and kana. My vocabuary is quite limited so I needed to find a quick way to find out how to use my existing vocab in the correct way using this method....
What do you mean by "how to use my existing vocab in the correct way"?
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Re: Is there a reliable online English to Japanese translator?

Post by becki_kanou » Tue 05.27.2008 3:10 am

Unfortunately the results currently available from machine translation, especially between languages as far removed as Japanese and English are poor and clunky at best and unintelligible at worst. (Although usually good for a laugh.)

People here will be willing to help you with your grammar and correct any errors as long as you show you are sincerely trying, but I don't think there are any programs sophisticated enough yet to recognize any but the grossest of grammatical errors. (If you use MSword, think of the ridiculous unhelpfulness of most of the suggestions made by its grammar checker.)

Edited to add a PS:
In addition, machine translation is almost incapable of varying for context, which in a highly context-oriented language such as Japanese, makes them useless for all but simple declarative sentences.
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Yudan Taiteki
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Re: Is there a reliable online English to Japanese translator?

Post by Yudan Taiteki » Tue 05.27.2008 7:36 am

What you need to do is get sentences from reliable sources (like dictionaries and textbooks) rather than making them up yourself. That way you know they're right.
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monkeykoder
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Re: Is there a reliable online English to Japanese translator?

Post by monkeykoder » Tue 05.27.2008 2:40 pm

I think the point the OP is trying to make is that he feels he has to be able to use the word in context to effectively remember it. I know the feeling that is the stage it seems to me that getting help with those sentences is the whole point of the practice Japanese section.

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Yudan Taiteki
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Re: Is there a reliable online English to Japanese translator?

Post by Yudan Taiteki » Tue 05.27.2008 4:53 pm

monkeykoder wrote:I think the point the OP is trying to make is that he feels he has to be able to use the word in context to effectively remember it. I know the feeling that is the stage it seems to me that getting help with those sentences is the whole point of the practice Japanese section.
Beginners should always be constructing sentences following native models; they should never be simply taking words and grammatical items and trying to combine them into sentences by themselves -- it will rarely be correct. Of course we can help with corrections but it's easier if you start with sentences that are more likely to be correct.
-Chris Kern

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Re: Is there a reliable online English to Japanese translator?

Post by monkeykoder » Tue 05.27.2008 5:00 pm

At what level would you consider someone good enough to just try writing a sentence?

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Yudan Taiteki
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Re: Is there a reliable online English to Japanese translator?

Post by Yudan Taiteki » Tue 05.27.2008 5:26 pm

monkeykoder wrote:At what level would you consider someone good enough to just try writing a sentence?
I'll tell you when I get there. :)

It's never bad to have native models. Even when I was studying for the 1-kyuu and the kanken 3-kyuu I took example sentences from dictionaries and books, I didn't make them up myself.

But think about it this way -- if you are learning a vocabulary word, how can you possibly already know how to use that vocabulary word in a natural Japanese sentence?

EDIT: Note that I'm not saying beginners should never try to communicate by making their own sentences. I'm saying that for the purpose of studying, and especially for the purpose of making flash cards or study sheets or the like, it's better to draw sentences from things that have been written by native speakers (even textbooks or dictionaries).
-Chris Kern

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