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Kodansha Dictionaries


19 Mar 2002
Hello all... it has been a long time.

Today, I was wondering if anyone whom can navigate Japanese websites well could find a link for Kodansha's Japanese only Dictionary.

I have found that I want to use a reference to English in learning Japanese only up to a certain point, and that at some point I would rather develop a Japanese mentality rather than a "translating Japanese to English" mentality.

Actually... any recommendations for true Japanese dictionaries would also be apprecitated.

I would like a dictionary that has many words, and also has furigana for many of the Kanji compounds.

I have found the Kodansha Japanese-English/English-Japanese Furigana dictionaries a great aid for translating, but at the same time, I would like to develop and understanding of Japanese in itself, and not through another languaage's translation of it. I want to do it this way because I have found that learning any language through a native language's reference to it allows for many errors in meaning, yet also, allows the words to be more easily forgotten over time.

For example... if I were to see a cat, through the tranlational way... I would first see the cat... then think the English "cat"... and then say... well this translates to "neko". This would be a much weaker connection than a more innate and natural approach. As in, I see the cat, and depending on the culture or lingual mentality I am in at the time, think either "cat" or "neko"... not think... "well through my nativee language, this translates to cat".

If anyone can find anything on this at the online bookstores, such as amazon.co.jp - that would be great.

Thank you for your time.
You're on the nose. Problem is that this is a pretty rigorous way to study ;)

You might try Little Tokyo's Otani Hotel's book store. There's also a Kinokuniya there too but I haven't been home for 4 years and that was the last time I visited LA.

There are several dictionaries aimed at foreignors with a similar purpose that you have.

But, I would actually suggest trying to get dictionaries that elemenatry school children use. Sure the vocabulary level is very low but the definitions are simple enough that you can understand them.

Higher level dictionaries that Japanese people would use are much more difficult. I haven't seen anything like what Longman has done for their Lerner's series with a limited 1900 word vocabulary which is used in explaining each word.

So, I would essentially recommend calling LA, San Francisco which have bookstores where you can talk to a sales person and interact personally.

amazon.co.jp should be on-line for English and they do have a sales support center here in Sapporo that is staffed by pretty good English speakers if a phone call to stores in the states don't work.

good luck
moyashi said:
But, I would actually suggest trying to get dictionaries that elemenatry school children use. Sure the vocabulary level is very low but the definitions are simple enough that you can understand them.
I think your suggestion makes a lot of sense. I would also like to pick up some kiddy books such a those used in the schools. Do you know a link where I can buy some elementary school textbooks and a dictionary?
(deleted -- realized after I posted that I misunderstood the question. whoops! I will leave behind the link to the goo 国語辞典 though: goo辞書 - 国語・英語・四字熟語・中国語のオンライン辞書)

I will say this, though. While your motivation to wean yourself away from E-J/J-E dictionaries and attempt to learn Japanese through Japanese is admirable, you're going to have a hard time finding J-J dictionaries (国語辞典) aimed at your level. Those Kodansha furigana dictionaries are quite good for learners, I think -- they give good context in the form of Japanese example sentences, and I think this is the most important thing. Sure, they also give definitions in English and a translation of the example sentence, but still you as the learner have the ability to focus on the Japanese example sentence and understanding it for what it is, rather than relying on the English translation. You don't really need the _entire dictionary_ to be in Japanese to accomplish what you're trying to accomplish.

If you're really going to train yourself to think in Japanese, your most important learning resource is going to be exposure to the language and hearing/seeing words in many contexts -- not just dictionaries. (Of course, you're also going to need to internalize the grammar and structure of the language as well, so having a good textbook or grammar reference is also important in the early stages.)
Thanks, JT, for the link and all the details of studying Japanese.
I don't think I am at any level to speak of moving up, but I'll definitely keep your words of caution in mind.
Your emphasis on "context" is totally in line with what my classics professor extolled, "Context is everything!" 🙂
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