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Japanese Dictionary!

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Japanese Dictionary!

Postby w3etiki » Wed 11.09.2005 3:13 am

How do Japanese dictionary work? I've seen Japanese dictionary in book form, but I'm more interested in the digital form. But how would I look up a word? Or more specifically how do one look up a Kanji word? Assuming of course that I do not know the pronunciation of it. I can type in Kanji through chinese input method... sort of, can't input all kanjis, but I'm not sure if that works.

So anyone out there know their Japanese dictionaries? :o Not an english to japanese dictionary but a jp jp dictionary. Or any dictionary that can give you the pronounciation of a kanji would be great too (it's just how would I input it or look it up?).

Thanks.

(I found this site... http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/ I think it's a google dictionary, could be wrong. I can input kanji thru chinese input and It gives me a pronounciation...)
Last edited by w3etiki on Wed 11.09.2005 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese Dictionary!

Postby InsanityRanch » Wed 11.09.2005 9:47 am

OK, I think you are talking about two separate kinds of dictionary.

A Japanese - Japanese dictionary (in which words are listed and then defined) is called a 国語辞典. You can look up a word by entering either the actual word (by cutting and pasting electronically) or the pronunciation of the word in kana. The site you mention in your message has a Kokugo, as well as a J-E and E-J dictionary.

You can't look up a kanji, per se, in a Kokugo dictionary. For that, you need another dictionary, called a kanji dictionary. There is one of those at http://jiten.www.infoseek.co.jp/Kanji?pg=jiten_kjtop.html&col=KJ

Usually they offer several options for looking up a kanji. You can enter the actual kanji (by cutting and pasting). You can enter the 部首, which is sort of the "controlling" part of the kanji. You can enter an on or a kun reading. You can enter the number of strokes.

In my (non-online) kanji dictionary, you can also enter any parts of a kanji you can see. So for 部, I could enter tatsu and kuchi.

You can enter more than one of the search fields. This is important, because any single criteria (other than the actual kanji cut and pasted) will give you many possibilities. So if you know the reading and the bushu, or the bushu and the stroke count, you can narrow down the hits.

OK, now your big question. What do you do when you encounter a new word, with 2 kanji you do not know, or do not know the readings for.

In an online form, you can just paste the word into the Kokugo and you're good.

In other situations, you need to discover the pronunciation of the word in order to look it up. You do that by checking the kanji dictionary to find the possible readings, and then looking up combinations of possible readings until you find what you're looking for in the Kokugo.

It's a pain.

HTH!

Shira
"Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself." -- Vilfredo Pareto
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RE: Japanese Dictionary!

Postby w3etiki » Thu 11.10.2005 12:55 am

thanks for the nice long reply. So in order to find the kanji without knowing the pronounciation I need to know the parts of the word eh? Or more like figuring it out. Yeh that sounds like a pain alright. Thanks for the site I'll go play with it now.

(fortunately I know how to input chinese, for that I just have to look at it and it'll be almost like reproducing a picture. And since kanji IS chinese this method works 90% of the time :o... now the trick is just figuring out which is the correct pronounciation -_-, I hate how there's multiple ways of saying a kanji in different situations)
Last edited by w3etiki on Thu 11.10.2005 1:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese Dictionary!

Postby InsanityRanch » Thu 11.10.2005 1:30 am

Let's take an example.

Suppose you want to look up the word: 行政. Your task is to figure out its pronunciation.

First, you can guess that this word uses on (Chinese) readings, because most two-kanji words do. You can't tell by inflection, because it doesn't seem to take either な or する.

The first kanji has two common on-readings: KOU and GYOU. (There is a third uncommon on-reading, but I wouldn't bother with that unless all else failed.)

Suppose you don't know the on-readings for the second one. You'd have to look them up. How? Well, the 部首 for this is 攴, so if you know this, you can enter it in the proper field in the kanji dictionary. (I never can guess the bushu -- think this is part of a kanji education that I just don't have. You may be able to pinpoint the bushu, since you already know Chinese.) You can also figure out that the stroke count is going to be 9. You might guess that one of the readings is SEI or SHOU because those are the readings of the left-hand component. So you narrow your search as much as possible.

The second kanji in fact has two on-readings, SEI and SHOU. (Not a big surprise.)

You now have four (six if you count uncommon readings) possibilities for the pronunciation of the entire word. Personally, I'd probably try KOUSEI first. (I would be wrong.)

The pronunciation is GYOUSEI. The word means 法・司法以外のもの。 In English, administration.

Yes, the fact that each kanji can have several pronunciations is a pain. But take pity on the Japanese -- they imported kanji from various places in China at various times in Chinese history. Even today, the same kanji might have different pronunciations in diferent places in China, yes?

Enjoy. Much as I complain, I love tracking down kanji.

Shira
"Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself." -- Vilfredo Pareto
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RE: Japanese Dictionary!

Postby w3etiki » Thu 11.10.2005 10:10 pm

so how did you ultimately figure it out was ghousei? was it listed as both words in the dictionary? if so what happens if both words weren't listed in the dictionary? Guess you're stuck with guessing eh? :D

I don't know if this is a method... but can I just keep typing in all the combinations until I get the kanji to pop up? Would that be a way? But then again if it's not in the dictionary, it might not pop up through typing... Since it was an irregular combination...
Last edited by w3etiki on Thu 11.10.2005 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese Dictionary!

Postby InsanityRanch » Thu 11.10.2005 10:44 pm

w3etiki wrote:
so how did you ultimately figure it out was ghousei? was it listed as both words in the dictionary? if so what happens if both words weren't listed in the dictionary? Guess you're stuck with guessing eh? :D

I don't know if this is a method... but can I just keep typing in all the combinations until I get the kanji to pop up? Would that be a way? But then again if it's not in the dictionary, it might not pop up through typing... Since it was an irregular combination...


Actually, I went looking for a word beginning with 行 that did not not have the reading KOU and was reasonably common, since I wanted as many steps as possible in the example. It's not irregular at all, btw. And no, both forms do not appear in the dictionary (though in a few cases, I've come across two pronunciations for the same kanji, where the first one just says, see the second one.)

No, if I guessed KOUSEI and that wasn't right, I need to keep gessing. GYOUSEI or KOUSHOU, take your pick.

The other problem is that most words have a lot of homonyms -- same pronunciation, different kanji. This is yet another consequence of the fact that Japanese borrowed Chinese pronunciations, but then did not pronounce them like Chinese. (Japanese is a simple language in terms of its phonemes. I think Chinese must be more complicated, though I don't know any Chinese.)

Anyway, Japanese has no tones, and in addition, it lacks some consonents that are used in Chinese. So many kanji have certain on readings. KOU and SEI are both very common on readings. There are twelve words pronounced KOUSEI in my kokugo, and NONE of them is the word we're looking for.

There are only two entry for GYOUSEI, btw. GYOU is not as common an on-reading as KOU.

<shrug> You get used to this hunt and guess game after awhile. It's kind of fun I think!

Shira
"Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself." -- Vilfredo Pareto
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