Well -I went I did it. I invested an extraordinary sum in a little, tiny computer that will fit in your coat pocket. My little toy is the latest in Japanese technology- a dictionary which literally contains a hundred Japanese and English dictionaries. Denshi- jisho’s have been around for a while but they never seemed very useful to me- being geared more to the Japanese consumer learning English.
A few months ago I remember seeing the Nintendo -DS game console. It had this little pen you could write with on the screen. I thought ” if only someone could make a Japanese dictionary like that- one you could write the character and it would give you the English”. You see reading in Japanese for a non-native is roughly equivalent to a trip to the dentist….for a root canal. Every time you come across a character you cannot read you must:
1. Count how many brush strokes it takes to write the character
2. Look it up in a brush stroke dictionary to get the readings or “sounds” that character can make
3. Pick one of the sounds and then see if it exists in the regular Japanese to English dictionary
4. If you cannot locate it you must pick the next sound and try again, and again, and again
This process takes roughly TEN MINUTES for every Kanji compound you do not know.
See what I mean…root canal.
Well I am happy to now say my drive to teach yoga in Japanese has lead to a whole resurgence in my wanting to actually sit down and read. Now with my expensive new toy I simply write the character with a stylus on a touch sensitive pad- hit a couple buttons and voila! or more appropriately “Yatta!” I have the meaning in English- 25 seconds flat.
John Friend Japanese teacher training manual…here I come!