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General Discussion Theres a Clannad of AIR-headed Kanon fodder being shot by the Little Busters After Tomoyo on a Planet-arian.

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  #1  
Old 2007-02-05, 22:42
MikeW
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Default Japanese Dictionaries and Textbooks

Are there any particular publications that you would recommend? Several years ago, I covered hiragana/katakana and basic grammar during one term in university. However, I don't really have time to pursue formal lessons anymore.

Without proper instruction, I don't expect to learn the language very well. Nonetheless, I hope to be able to read a light-weight ADV/visual novel one day.
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Old 2007-02-05, 22:47
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Er... well, I used Genki, and I liked it.

Not to mention if you're going to read through visual novels, having a dictionary might be handy enough for you to at least grasp most of what's going on, especially if you're already somewhat experienced with Japanese. Good luck to ya.
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Old 2007-02-06, 01:18
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Absolutely nothing beats an talented instructor, but even then, I've only had 2 years of japanese classes. It's surprising how far you can get if you immerse yourself and always pay attention to expanding your knowledge. It's like a snowball, takes forever to get rolling, but after awhile it just *goes*

I'll also say right now that I'm more from the camp of "learn the grammar (which is pretty regular) quickly and pick up the vocab/culture as you play games" than more balanced practical approaches... ask me to name common veggies etc. and I'll blank on you >.>

For the longest time, being poor, the only real dictionary I had readily available was the www J/E dictionary server interfaces to Jim Breen's EDICT. In my early years I must have spammed the logs something fierce. For most learning purposes you'll find what you need on it. Some of its more specialized dictionaries are still quite useful to me today.

Later you can always use yahoo.jp's kokugo(J->J) dictionaries to look up more obscure things. Using a J-E dictionary to translate the dictionary entries of course. =)

I've seen japanese classes of varying levels recommend Kodansha's various dictionaries, like the furigana one, but they always felt somewhat pricey to me for their thickness, they seem quite good but $_$.

I don't own a kanji dictionary, I'll use winxp's IME scribblepad and look things up that way, but I should take the time to get a good detailed one with obscure kanji sometime soon (Damn you itsusora and your complex wordplay)

And if someone can recommend a solid bungo(classical) text to me that'd be sweet. McCullough's manual is too condensed to learn from without instruction. I guess I'll try Wixted's new manual this year and see.

I can't recommend textbooks 'cause I don't remember them, but Genki seems popular in campus stores, as is(was?) Yookoso, but most textbooks have a practical business-language/everyday-life type bent to them and they put me to sleep.

My current favorite grammatical references are a pain to learn from since it'd be almost rote memorization of grammatical patterns, but are wonderful if you need to look up some pattern you've seen and don't quite know how to handle. The authors say they went through piles of textbooks and distilled what they felt were the most important grammatical patterns at the beginner and intermediate levels. "A dictionary of japanese grammar" and "A dictionary of intermediate japanese grammar" published by the Japan Times.

Finally, if you get to the point where you can generally distinguish words by ear, any subbed anime or translated whatever becomes learning material. I personally picked up most of my knowledge of colloquial and informal speech that way. It just takes paying attention instead of blindly reading along.

You'll know you've hit a fair level of competency when you spend more time arguing against a random sub's translation than you spend watching the show.....
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Old 2007-02-06, 01:48
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I probably don't have much insightful to say, so I'll just list what I am using as a form of recommendation.
My snowball is about 2/3rds the size it needs to be to read the average visual novel I reckon, and it seems to be rolling very fast at this point :)
Entirely self taught.

Introduction to Modern Japanese.
This is what I am using to lead my 'course'. It teaches grammar and other aspects of the language, and the corresponding word-list + exercises book is determining the order in which I learn the words.

Heisig's Remembering the Kanji.
Bit of a controversial book, and I don't use it *strictly* as it was intended, but I've found it very good so far. I know 1k kanji from less than a year studying Japanese, and I'm not really showing any signs of forgetting them other than the odd lapse.

WWWJDIC.
I use this as my dictionary, and it's great until you get to a really subtle/tricky word where you need examples.
I use the kanji dictionary with kanjipad (handwriting recognition) or the multiradical lookup. Has Heisig index numbers so I can look up the kanji in my book to memorise. Very useful :)


I have a question of my own:
I need a dead tree dictionary for use on the bus/etc when I am trying to read a book and either don't recognise a kanji, or don't recognise a compound of kanji I know. It doesn't need to be quite pocket sized, but it needs to be fairly portable.
I've not used many so I'm not sure how they work, but I'm most comfortable with stroke count + radical lookup, I think. How does this work for looking up compounds? You just do it on the first kanji?
I'd prefer to avoid ro-maji if possible...

Any recommendations?
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Old 2007-02-06, 01:49
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Sorry. Mizu, can you fix that URL for me? :\ It's stretching out the page here.
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  #6  
Old 2007-02-06, 11:47
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I think Agilis' way of learning is certainly effective, especially since Japanese at times is a subtle language. Just knowing nouns and stuff won't necessarily help you understand the extent or meaning behind what's going on; grammar will. And as he said, having a teacher does make a difference, if only to keep you motivated. Self-learning things sometimes can get frustrating when you first start off, or you may forget to take time to study whatever is you want to.

Just to add to the lists of online dictionaries, I usually use this:

http://dict.regex.info/cgi-bin/j-e/dict
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Old 2007-02-06, 12:08
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A wide variety of online dictionaries can be found at zalas's AIR Wiki Japanese Resource page.
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Old 2007-02-06, 14:26
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As for the textbook, i'll stand by Genki as well.

As for in print dictionaries: I have one of Random House's English/Japanese dictionaries, good for when you want a quick look up, and I have NTC's Kanji Dictionary.
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Old 2007-02-07, 01:17
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My suggestion is to never rely on EDICT. Use it to remind yourself of what words mean, but if you are actually interested in the real meaning of a word, look it up in a real dictionary that will explain meanings, sample usage, etc. If you really don't have a good dictionary at your disposal, I'd recommend the J->E dictionary at http://dic.yahoo.co.jp/ as it at least has sample usage.

For example, this is one of the poorer entries in EDICT:
弄する 【ろうする】 (vs-s) to use, to talk, to play a trick

While all three definitions are ways you can translate this verb, the first two are really meaningless without the English context, as they can mean many things.
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Last edited by zalas; 2007-02-07 at 01:29.
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  #10  
Old 2007-02-07, 01:19
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The Daikanwa Jiten is the ultimate kanji dictionary in the universe (50k kanji). Get it if you can, bwa ha ha.
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  #11  
Old 2007-02-07, 10:32
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I'll probably start by reviewing my course notes and text, but this definitely helps.

Quote:
I'll also say right now that I'm more from the camp of "learn the grammar (which is pretty regular) quickly and pick up the vocab/culture as you play games
Yeah, I completely agree with you on grammar, which is what my instructor emphasized. Having previously attempted language studies based on vocabulary/random conversation, I've found it impossible to learn that way.
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Old 2007-02-07, 13:15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GipFace View Post
The Daikanwa Jiten is the ultimate kanji dictionary in the universe (50k kanji). Get it if you can, bwa ha ha.
Gip you sicko.....
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  #13  
Old 2007-02-07, 19:19
DragonmasterX DragonmasterX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zalas View Post
My suggestion is to never rely on EDICT. Use it to remind yourself of what words mean, but if you are actually interested in the real meaning of a word, look it up in a real dictionary that will explain meanings, sample usage, etc. If you really don't have a good dictionary at your disposal, I'd recommend the J->E dictionary at http://dic.yahoo.co.jp/ as it at least has sample usage.

For example, this is one of the poorer entries in EDICT:
弄する 【ろうする】 (vs-s) to use, to talk, to play a trick

While all three definitions are ways you can translate this verb, the first two are really meaningless without the English context, as they can mean many things.
I concur. JWPCE's EDICT is often the first dictionary I check due to habit. And occassionally, I often go WTF? That makes no sense in the given context. Then I look up in koujien, space alc, and my Canon wordtank for verifrication, and see that EDICT was wrong. So yea, EDICT definitely has the occassional error. In the rare instance that koujien, space alc, and my wordtank fail, I check google for example usages. There's something called the Green Goddess/Kenkyuusha that is supposed to have every word and is updated daily(like the Online OED); and true professional translators are said to rely on that, but there's a monthly fee for using it.

As for textbooks, if you ever want to read, in the original classical Japanese(as all the stuff has been rewritten in modern Japanese), the Bible or about badass samurai like Yoshitsune, or just all those old tales, like Genji, Ise, Heike, etc. I recommend Classical Japanese: A Grammar.

Last edited by DragonmasterX; 2007-02-07 at 19:27.
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  #14  
Old 2007-02-07, 21:48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DragonmasterX View Post
There's something called the Green Goddess/Kenkyuusha that is supposed to have every word and is updated daily(like the Online OED); and true professional translators are said to rely on that, but there's a monthly fee for using it.
It also comes in dead tree form, for a hefty sum in money. It is very good for translation, but you'd only really want to get it if you are a professional or translation is crucial to you in some other way.
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  #15  
Old 2007-02-14, 00:17
GreatSaintLouis GreatSaintLouis is offline
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I concur with Genki; it's not a bad textbook to start out with.
I'm also quite satisfied with Basic Kanji Book Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

Also, if you're looking for a decent kanji dictionary but don't want to spend a ton on a real thick tome, Kodansha's Essential Kanji Dictionary is quite good.
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