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Japanese resources

For all you fellow edict users out there, a word of advice: get that Japanese-German dictionary, now! My German doesn't go beyond "Guten Tag" level, and the Japanese-German dictionary is still helpful to me, so imagine what it could do for someone who knows more German than I do. I don't know what maintainance strategy is used, but it isn't just a German translation of regular edict. One prominent example is that あやかし has an entry in the Japanese-German dictionary but none of the Japanese-English ones.

I decided to make a list of useful resources for people learning Japanese and translating manga. So, without further ado, the list, in no particular order. (Though I've divided it in categories somewhat now.)


Dictionaries and Reference Lists
  • Moji - This is an extension for Firefox that allows you to highlight Japanese text in pages and look it up in an edict-based dictionary. It's sometimes lacking in alternate spellings, and if the spelling is ambiguous it won't return all possible results, but it knows a few useful verb inflexions.
  • Jeffrey's dictionary server, EUC version, JIS version, Shift-JIS version and graphical version - An online dictionary based on edict as well. It doesn't know about verb inflexion like Moji does, but it has some entries you can't find in Moji.
  • The original edict dictionary by the maintainer of edict himself. It has multi-radical lookup for kanji!
  • Mahou is a subbing group (they did Fantastic Children, which is one of my favorite anime), and they have this kick-ass kanji dictionary with multi-radical lookup, example sentences, writing instructions and links to other kanji with the same radical or with the same SKIP code.
  • List of SFX in manga. Thanks to rusalkaz for this one!
  • Rikai, a web gateway that makes translations of words (and kanji information when appliable) pop up when you hover over them in a web page.
  • A Firefox plugin version of Rikai, rikaixul.
  • And another, rikaichan. Accordingly to Jim Breen's page, it's much better than rikaixul.
  • A Japanese word processor with an integrated dictionary, JWPce. It's originally for Windows, and supposedly it can run on top of Wine, but my Wine is so broken and I'm so unmotivated to fix it that I can't vouch for that claim. That aside, I actually used it last time I went to my mother's, and it runs quite well, plus you don't have to install Windows IME because it uses its own IME. Problem is, there's no way to use the Windows IME if you -want- to. For Windows that's okay, but with Wine it'd be a real bother if you have custom dictionaries like I do.
  • Offline edict-based dictionary for Linux, yay! Very stupid fix for version 2.6 by me for use with GTK 2.4 and slightly less stupid fix for version 2.6 by me for a bug with the radicals window (both files hosted on Mediafire now, hopefully I won't have to upload them again).
  • List of Japanese proverbs, useful for some translations.
  • Huge list of idiomatic expressions with readings.

Japanese IMEs
I only list Linux and Windows stuff here. Know of a BSD, Mac OS or Solaris (or anything else I forgot) IME? Leave a comment!
  • For you legacy Windows folks, here's the link for the Windows IME. If you have Windows XP, it's in the install CD. Here are instructions to get it working. (Thanks to d-mented mind over at TF for the link.) Also, a page by Microsoft on the same topic, with extra babble on the "C" and "K" of the CJK group.
  • Running Linux like me? Forget IIIMF (that damn troublesome thing), forget kinput (it works, but for me it messed up normal input of Portuguese diacritics), and get this along with the corresponding Anthy module. It can work with a tool for handwriting recognition (i.e. you write a kanji with the mouse and it tries to figure out what the hell you're trying to write). The SCIM site has instructions for a number of different distros.

Online Translators
Any recommendations for this category? Leave a comment!
  • Online translator, can be a lot of help if you know a little Japanese to steer it in the right direction. It seems to understand Japanese grammar far better than the Babelfish and Google ones. It also has a dictionary, but I haven't used it much. Useful stuff to know: is shorthand for "English"; is shorthand for "Japanese"; 翻訳 means "translation"; クリア means "clear"; テキスト翻訳 means "text translation"; ウェブページ翻訳 means "website translation"; 原文 means "original text"; 訳文 means "translated text".

Grammar References
  • Tim's Takamatsu ~ Language Related is the page that got me started in my love for Japanese verb conjugation. Romaji only, but still very useful.
  • JGram has a lot of grammar information and examples. "Browse all" and "search" are your friends.
  • Nihongo resources. It has a lot of useful stuff, and it's still in construction (it'll probably be my favorite site once it's completed). There's a dictionary, a particle dictionary, some lessons, a page on Kansai-ben, a giongo/gitaigo dictionary and a grammar page. If you have problems viewing it, close IE, start a real browser and try again. ^_^
  • Tae Kim's guide to Japanese grammar. It's structured in a lesson format, and has some shared content with JGram. I find it easier to navigate. Plus, it's where I got the idea for the tooltips in Japanese text.

Miscellaneous
  • Jim Breen's Japanese page, mandatory stop for everyone interested in Japanese resources.
  • The Anime Lyrics Japanese forum, there are a couple of gurus there if you manage to get their attention.
  • Oral comprehension practice for the JLPT2, part 1 and part 2, ripped by me and encoded as FLAC.

Tips of dubious usefulness
  • If you're beginning, get rid of romaji as soon as you possibly can, and reject textbooks that keep it for any longer than strictly necessary.
  • Children's books with barely any kanji might be an interesting option for reading early on, but if you have trouble breaking up words, look for something that has kanji and furigana.
  • Randomly ask yourself how to say something in Japanese, try to come up with an answer, and then check it with a fluent speaker.
  • If you're picking up vocabulary from reading manga, playing games and watching anime, don't stick to a single genre of fiction. I know from experience this is a bad idea. Go fantasy, go sci-fi, go crime, go sports, go slice-of-life.
  • If you're translating text on images in a vocabulary domain you don't know very well, transcribe it to a text file. Not only it makes your life easier if you use a software dictionary, you might also pick up a couple of readings from frequent words.
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