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Kodansha's Basic English-Japanese Dictionary (Japanese for Busy People) Paperback – January 17, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-4770028952 ISBN-10: 4770028954 Edition: Bilingual

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Product Details

  • Series: Japanese for Busy People
  • Paperback: 1508 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; Bilingual edition (January 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770028954
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770028952
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.2 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,531,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

EIICHI MAKINO, Ph.D. in Linguistics, University of Illinois. Professor of Japanese and Linguistics, Princeton University. The author of A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (with M. Tsutsui), Japan Times, 1986; A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar (with M. Tsutsui), Japan Times, 1995; Uchi to Soto no Gengo-Bunkagaku, ALC, 1996; Nakama: Japanese Communication, Culture, Context Vol. I (with Y. Hatasa & K. Hatasa), Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

SEIICHI NAKADA, Ph.D. in Linguistics, University of Michigan. Professor of English, Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, Aoyama Gakuin University. The author of Recent Development in Linguistic Theory and Implications for Second Language Teaching (coauthored), Bunka Hyooron Shuppansha, 1980; Aspects of Interrogative Structure: A Case Study from English and Japanese, Kaitakusha, 1980; "Aspects of Contrastive/Comparative Syntax and the Teaching of Japanese to Speakers of English" in On Japanese and How to Teach It (ed. by 0. Kamata & W. Jacobsen), Japan Times, 1990; Proceed Japanese-English Dictionary (with M. Hashimoto et al.), Benesse Corporation, 1988.

MIEKO OHSO, Ph.D. in Linguistics, The Ohio State University. Professor of Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language, Nagoya University. The author of A Study of Zero Pronominalization in Japanese, unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University, 1976, Japanese for You: The Art of Communication (with Y. Koyarna), Taishukan Publishing Company, 1988; Gairai-go no Keisei to sono Kyooiku (with H. Quackenbush), National Language Research Institute, 1990.

WESLEY M. JACOBSEN, Ph.D. in Linguistics, University of Chicago. Professor of the Practice of the Japanese Language and Director of the Japanese Language Program, Harvard University. Author of The Transitive Structure of Events in Japanese, 1992, Kurosio Publishers; "Agentivity and aspect in Japanese: a functional perspective," in Directions in Functional Linguistics (ed. by A. Kamio), 1997, John Benjamins; "Aspects of hypothetical meaning in Japanese conditionals" in Function and Structure (ed. by A. Kamlo and K. Takami), 1999, John Benjamins.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


This is an English-Japanese dictionary primarily for students and teachers of the Japanese language, but anyone who is interested in the basic vocabulary of the English language and its corresponding vocabulary in the Japanese language should find this dictionary useful. We have chosen approximately 4,500 basic English words as entries, so that the user will have access to a Japanese vocabulary sufficient for the purposes of speaking and writing about most topics arising in daily life.

The following are some of the unique features of this English-Japanese dictionary.

(1) Although it has the appearance of a regular English-Japanese dictionary, this dictionary is actually a bilingual dictionary in the sense that the index of basic Japanese words provided at the end allows it to he used as a Japanese-English dictionary as well.

(2) Each entry in English is followed by a description on of its basic meaning and a set of Japanese words which fall within the range of meaning of the English entry. Each of these Japanese words is in turn followed by a description of its basic meaning, allowing one to see readily what the crucial differences are in meaning between the English and Japanese words.

3) Unlike typical English-Japanese dictionaries intended for use by native speakers of Japanese, the present dictionary provides numerous example sentences written in both Japanese script (i.e., hiragana, katakana, and kanji) and romanization.

(4) Noteworthy information on the grammatical behavior and correct usage of Japanese words and of important differences between Japanese and English are provided throughout the dictionary for the benefit of those studying the Japanese language.

More than ten years have now passed since one of the writers, Seiichi Makino, initially proposed the idea of a new type of English-Japanese dictionary to Mr. Shinji Ichiba of Kodansha International, who very kindly accepted the proposal. For the first few years there were only two of us, Seiichi Makino of Princeton University and Seiichi Nakada of Aoyama Gakuin University, working on the dictionary, but owing to the busy schedule of Seiichi Nakada, we decided to ask Mieko Ohso of Nagoya University to join its in the project.

Makino wrote the initial draft for half of the entries and Nakada and Ohso the other half, but we have carefully checked each other's drafts and corrected them wherever necessary. So in effect every part of this dictionary has been written by the three of us.

Naturally we owe a great deal to our predecessors in the field of English-Japanese dictionaries, but the notion of basic meaning, which we rely on crucially owes itself to Professor Shiro Hattori's original notion of sememe (igiso). We would like to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Shinji Ichiba, the former editor-in-chief of Kodansha International, who has been so understanding of our project and has been so patient with the slow pace of our work, and to Mr. Hitoshi Wakayama of Kodansha International, Mr. Taro Hirowatari of Parastyle, Inc. and Ms. Midoriko Iio of Parastyle, Inc. who have given editorial advice and ideas, and done the actual editing of our work. And last but not least, our thanks to Professor Wesley M. Jacobsen of Harvard University, who kindly provided a native check of our manuscripts. Without his most conscientious native check, the dictionary would not have seen the light.

Since this dictionary is the first of its kind we are aware that there is ample for improvement. It is our hope that you as users of the dictionary will forward to us your comments, suggestions and criticisms so they may be incorporated in future editions of the work.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By GB on June 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the English-Japanese dictionary I use the most. I own 10 dictionaries and grammer books on the Japanese language and am a beginning-intermediate level student of the language. This one, containing 1500 + pages of extremely helpful guidance on how to correctly use the most "basic" words, is by far the most helpful on a daily basis. Whether for sending e-mail to a Japanese friend or completing a homework assignment for a Japanese language class, this dictionary has no equals in its niche. While modestly claiming to be only a "basic" dictionary, it is much more than that. It is the only book I have found on the market which has taken the time and effort (which must have been considerable) to provide samples sentences in both English and romaji and hiragana/kanji for the many different meanings and applications of about 4,500 basic English words. This book is well worth the investment. I wish all language dictionaries were as helpful as this one.
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Right now, I'm using the Pimsleur CDs in the car to learn Japanese. However, when I get home, I need to be able to write things down to remember them--so Ifm making a vocabulary list in a spreadsheet, and I also want to make flashcards.

One of tough things to get used to in Japanese is the complex writing system--how can I be sure that I'm writing things down correctly? Even if I only use Roomaji, I need to be sure Ifm writing out long vowels versus short correctly. If using real Japanese writing, how will I know if there is a Kanji involved... or if I have made a gspelling mistakeh?

Well, this dictionary is the best one I have found to help me write down all Ifm hearing on the Pimsleur CDs (and I have ordered quite a few). True, it does not have a lot of words in it--the preface says it has around 4,500 headwords. However, the real value is that it has many, many complete sentences for each entry along with usage notes. So whenever you look up an English word or concept, you can almost always find the utterance that youfre hearing so you can see how to write it down, and another way to use it. (This is especially useful to see concrete examples of conjugated verbs and conjugated adjectives.) It also shows variants of the same idea...and how the variants are acceptable in some constructions but not others.

For instance, if you look up the word "fine," you can find the following example of usage:

No, this is fine.
,¢,¢,¦A,±,ê,Å{<\/,¢,¢/*³<C},Å,·B ) [The japanese won't print right]
Iie, kore de {kekkoo/ii/*genki} desu.
Note: _Kekkoo_ sounds a little more formal than _ii_.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Notestine on January 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is my first review. But I just had to write it after using this dictionary. I am a beginning Japanese student. This dictionary is so incomplete it is amazing! I have been using it a relatively short period of time. I've looked up about 25 words. Here is a list of words I have found (so far) that are NOT in this dictionary: illegal, grandfather, forgive. And I've only used it a short time. What other "basic" are missing, I wonder. Yet, they do include "Nostril". Now there's a word I use everyday! I am just going to have to buy another. This is too incomplete.
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This book is just awesome for serious learners. It shows example sentences and usage notes, intonation guides, useful appendices, alternative spellings, etc.

Only two drawbacks:
1) It has a very limited word base (4,500+ words).
2) It is only English to Jap -> Eng.
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Update. Everything stated below is true, but I'm getting very irritated with this dictionary because often it omits the kanji. If you for instance look at the word "good" there is not a single kanji only hiragana.

This is quite a good beginner's dictionary. It contains quite a bit of usage information as well as example sentences. That is what beginners need. Having said that i basically like the book, here are a few things to be aware of:
1. I would have liked to have more synonyms for many of the entries. Since there are only 4500 entries that would have been very easy to arrange. The descriptions of the words in very extensive, but, then, if you only provide one translation it kind of defeats the purpose of having a detailed description. For instance: A ladder is a structure consisting of two long pieces of wood/rope/metal with steps inbetween for climbing up or down. This is translated as "hashigo". I don't think anything is gained by the long definition of what a latter is.
2. My impression is that you only get a portion of the "approved" kanji despite other kanji being in frequent use as well. So there will be quite a bit of kana. For the learner it would have been very simple to also add more kanji. See below for a dictionary that does add more kanji. It seems like the authors have made a conscious decision to keep kanji to a minimum. I wish they would have provided some comments in the introduction.
3. The book has a western-mindset tendency, despite its authors being Japanese. Just one example: If you look up "cooking", you get the Western way of cooking, but you don't get the Japanese cooking methods. This is not a serious problem, but it is an unpleasant tendency if you are working hard to get under the Japanese skin.
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