Moore Than This

"Here we are living in paradise, living in luxury..."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Warning: learning Japanese can lead to addictive behaviour

...But at least the manfacturers of my new dictionary have recognised the threat and printed directions for help in the inside cover.

The New Nelson Japanese English Character Dictionary was recommended by our teacher at the end of last semester. At 1600 pages, it was certainly one of the heaviest presents I recieved this Christmas, but I'm just working out it might well be one of the most useful.

The handout for our translation module this semester included as the first of its objectives that students would be able to "read, translate, summarise, and discuss Japanese texts that are NOT altered for ease of comprehension." While the texts we were given last semester were fairly complex, last week's work (an extract from a book on General MacArthur and the post-war occupation of Japan) included some characters and vocabulary that completely defeated my trusty electronic dictionary. Working with my three-year-old miniature model and the newly acquired paper monster, I was able to work through the text and unearth the most obscure and specialist vocabulary, including this gem: 公娼制度, or the pre-war system of licenced prostitution. If that isn't specialist, I don't know what is.

In short, if like me you're at a fairly advanced level in Japanese study and know you're going to continue at it for a long time, the New Nelson or a dictionary like it is basically invaluable.

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