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辞書、字引、辞典 ? What is the difference?

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辞書、字引、辞典 ? What is the difference?

Postby Snowflake » Thu 05.27.2010 6:51 pm

Recently, in my vocabulary studies, I ran across the words: 辞書 (じしょ), 字引 (じびき), and 辞典 (じてん). For each of them, the definition was "dictionary". Well, that was somewhat unsatisfying, so I went in search of more specification. I tried looking them all up, using a variety of dictionary sources ( :wink: ), but still came up with just "dictionary" (or in one case "lexicon"). My question is: does each of those words represent a certain type or style of dictionary? Is one, say, a pocket-sized versus another one being an unabridged versus the *other* other being slang?

Under what circumstances would one use 辞書 as opposed to 字引 or 辞典? Is it just personal preference or to provide variety? Sort of the way, in English, we have Dad, Daddy, Papa, Father and Pop, all of which mean Male Parent and there's no real distinction between them?

Please forgive if this is not the proper section for this question but it was the best fit I could think of. Certainly not the most pressing issue in my Japanese studies (I'm sure I'll find more as I continue on) -- just one of those little pinprick issues that nags at the old brain until it gets resolved. Thanks for any insight you can provide!
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Re: 辞書、字引、辞典 ? What is the difference?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 05.27.2010 8:56 pm

辞書 is the normal word for "dictionary". 辞典 tends to be used in compounds like 和英辞典, 国語辞典, 漢字字典, etc.

字引 strikes me as a rarer word; my J-E doesn't even list it, and I'm not sure I've seen it used before.
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Re: 辞書、字引、辞典 ? What is the difference?

Postby Snowflake » Thu 05.27.2010 10:03 pm

ありがとう!

Thank you for sorting them out for me. Of course, now that I've learned 字引, I can't un-learn it :D . I'll just file it in the way-back portion of the ol' brain and pat myself on the back every now and then for knowing a relatively uncommon word!

For what it's worth, it does show up on my Rikaichan, and its definition is... (wait for it...) "dictionary" :) .
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Re: 辞書、字引、辞典 ? What is the difference?

Postby So Just Throw A Chair At Me » Thu 05.27.2010 11:44 pm

I remember the first time I came to Japan at age 18 knowing only the word 字引 for dictionary and my family didn't understand. :cry:
nagero!................................... ソ
                       ウ
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                   ソウソウ
                   ウ   !!
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Re: 辞書、字引、辞典 ? What is the difference?

Postby Snowflake » Fri 05.28.2010 9:19 am

I hope it wasn't too long before you learned 辞書 :) .
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Re: 辞書、字引、辞典 ? What is the difference?

Postby JaySee » Fri 05.28.2010 10:00 am

I only know 字引 as it is used in 生き字引 (walking dictionary, someone who knows a lot of words).
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Re: 辞書、字引、辞典 ? What is the difference?

Postby Snowflake » Fri 05.28.2010 5:06 pm

JaySee wrote:I only know 字引 as it is used in 生き字引 (walking dictionary, someone who knows a lot of words).

Oh my goodness!!! Seeing the pronunciation for 生き字引 (いきじびき) sparked a memory! A while back, I saw a post on a thread here on The Japanese Page, asking if anyone remembered hearing the term "iki jibiki" (written in romaji). I remember thinking "what a funny little rhyming phrase!". I'm not sure exactly why it struck me as funny, and it got me wondering about making rhyming poems in Japanese, but all that is beside the point. "Iki Jibiki" got filed in the way-back part of the brain.

But when I saw your comment, JaySee, "iki jibiki" came rushing back. So I put it in romaji in the TJP forum search box and was directed to the one and only thread in which "iki Jibiki" has occurred. A thread from 2007. The one I remembered seeing so long ago. And, lo and behold, the main points of discussion of that way-back thread was the difference between 辞書, 生き字引 and 辞典 :lol: . I guess it's true, there's nothing new under the sun. Not even a question!

For what it's worth, here's that thread :) : http://thejapanesepage.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=7721&p=89358&hilit=iki+jibiki#p89358. Enjoy!
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