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素通し和英辞書計画

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素通し和英辞書計画

Postby Infidel » Sun 05.03.2009 7:03 pm

Transparent Japanese-English Dictionary Project

It sounds impressive anyway but it might just be an impressive fail. The idea is to create an online learner's dictionary that fills what I consider to be a void in current learners dictionaries, as well as to give me something interesting to do as I work on my own Japanese skills. Out of necessity the project will be small, my initial goal is 2000 most common words. This might be too much already, but I intend to divide this up into smaller bites so my usual flakiness with projects might be surmountable.

The basic concept is, a learner's dictionary that answers questions like, "These two words mean the same thing. Can I use them interchangeably?" The dictionary will attempt to answer this question whether the words are です/is or 必要する/要る.In other words, a dictionary focused on the transparency of the words within. Answers will be more akin to usage notes than standard dictionary definitions which I find often confuse me more often than they enlighten. Unless the words really are transparent, then a transparent word will have the synonym indicated by an underline or something. Words like 今日 will have a note that に is generally not used and that it usually appears at the beginning of a sentence. I'd also like to indicate intonation. Not just for the individual word, but in the example sentences to show how the intonation might morph in a sentence. Example sentences will probably be drawn from the well known Tanaka Corpus with proper citation of course. Synonym definitions that are different word types would also be indicated. For example if a synonym is an adjective when the topic word is a noun, that would be indicated.

One of the problems that I've always had with even the best Japanese dictionaries is getting a definition, then being unable to fit the "meaning" in an equivalent English sentence. One of the points of the transparent dictionary is that I can tell from looking at the definition whether a word really means XXX or whether it only gives a sense of XXX. In theory it should save time allowing the student to focus on words that really are difficult. Definitions will therefore be more encyclopedic than concise.

I know, some of you are thinking, "But that is what example sentences are for." and I'm not disagreeing. But I think a beginner's dictionary should be a bit more blatant so the student knows when to be more alert. One thing that really annoys me is Random House's Japanese dictionary. It doesn't even indicate whether verbs are transitive or intransitive, a reader has to figure it out for themselves.

I'll put a sample entry here in a bit. Right now my main goals are to identify the resources I'll need to make up a prototype. For stuff like this sometimes has the real bear in the setup not the data entry. If I have to personally code a SQL database, then I'm definitely biting off more than I can chew. But I'm hoping that there is already some software out there that I can adapt without too much effort.

I'm still in a concept stage so important stuff may be missing. Still, this is my current list of things to do:

1. Find a server that I can set up a SQL database super cheap.
2. Standardize Entry Format
3. Create data entry template
4. Identify 2000 most common words.
5. verify transparency of words and usage points for data entry.
6. Identify copyright issues. Example: Can I use ALC as the source for my own intonation markings, or will I have to have my own primary source for each word's intonation? Could I use Longman's 2000 word list as an English barometer or someone else's list of 2000 most common words?
7. If others want to help, set up a means for other people to make and edit entries.
8. Set up tone markings for example sentences.

hrm, those aren't necessarily in order. But #1 is. I have godaddy and they have lots of tools. So I might be able to set up something from that, I've just no idea what to do.
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Re: 素通し和英辞書計画

Postby kurisuto » Sun 05.03.2009 7:43 pm

Brilliant idea ! From what you said it really looks interesting. I won't go through your entire post here, but one of the things that caught my attention was what you said about interchangeability : that's really a big problem, too much perceived synonyms, with slight (or sometimes hugely important) nuances.

I don't know when you plan to start it for real, but, just throwing ideas, it would be great if we could, say, type "conjunction" and have some kind of list, or "adverbs", or, you know, this kind of things that, when mastered, really helps you improve your expression skills (I think this is the major problem learners of foreign languages encounter when they reach a certain point : their sentences often seem a bit flat, they don't quite form a fluent stream of thought. And of course I count myself among the people that have this problem). Maybe this isn't really the place for this though.

Anyways, good luck with your ambitious project, and keep us aware of it's development !
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Re: 素通し和英辞書計画

Postby Infidel » Sun 05.03.2009 8:08 pm

right now I'm at the infrastructure stage. Apparently my godaddy account gives me a free sql server so I just activated it and it's pending setup.

In quick install apps, there is a program called SQLyog Enterprise. Sounds like a wasiwyg sql editor so just want I need and only $6 a month is quite affordable. Oops, guess not, it requres Linux...meh, all the apps in here that would fill my needs are linux.

Apparently I'll need php too, and I'm looking up where to get that setup.
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Re: 素通し和英辞書計画

Postby clay » Sun 05.03.2009 8:52 pm

Very interesting. This kind of reminds me of Jekai (http://www.jekai.org/). Unfortunately looks like it hasn't been updated in years...

I'd like to see that sample entry. I'm very slow until I see something visually sometimes. :)
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Re: 素通し和英辞書計画

Postby astaroth » Mon 05.04.2009 7:33 am

Infidel wrote:Oops, guess not, it requres Linux...meh, all the apps in here that would fill my needs are linux.

If you're on a Mac, you should be able to install X11 and then all the libraries to install the app you need. Take a look at the XDarwin project.
If you're on a Windows machine, you can install Linux either on a hd partition or on external hd (just check whether your machine can boot from a usb device: nowadays pretty much every computers can) and then dual-boot to it when needed. Linux distribution I'd suggest are Debian or Slackware -- I was pretty hardcore back in the days -- but I heard pretty good stories about Ubuntu, which is Debian-based. (Red Hat or the subsequent Fedora is disgusting ...)
If you need help please ask on the Linux installation side ... your project sounds pretty interesting.
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Re: 素通し和英辞書計画

Postby Infidel » Mon 05.04.2009 1:52 pm

It's funny. I was thinking by limiting myself to 2000 words I'd be keeping the project within reasonable limits. But I've already spent hours just working on my sample entries--Hours!. Actually, I spent all day yesterday on it and didn't spend any time at all on my other projects. The one thing I want to avoid happening here is the usual stop one project midway and switch to another--that I stop midway before switching to another. So it appears that I'll have to limit the time spent on this to something that leaves room for my other projects.

Right now my biggest priority is working my way through College Algebra Demystified so I can pass the placement exam for Pre-calc. Summer classes start soon and I'm only 1/3 of the way through it and if I can qualify for pre-calc this semester, then I can potentially finish my degree next semester.
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Re: 素通し和英辞書計画

Postby two_heads_talking » Mon 05.04.2009 4:00 pm

Don't get discouraged. Do the things that mean the most to you and will benefit your future. The other things will fall into place as you are able to get to them..
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Re: 素通し和英辞書計画

Postby monkeke » Wed 05.06.2009 1:02 am

がんばってね!
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