- Paperback: 1008 pages
- Publisher: Kodansha USA (February 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 4770028555
- ISBN-13: 978-4770028556
- Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 1.7 x 5.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 95 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary
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"Up-to-date, reliable, and easy to use … this beautifully designed dictionary meets the needs of a wide range of Japanese language learners."—Y.-H. Tohsaku, President, American Association of Teachers of Japanese
"A must for those who wish to overcome the obstacles posed by the study of kanji … an excellent tool that allows even beginners to look up kanji with ease."—Akito Ozaki, President, The Society for Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language
About the Author
Jack Halpern is the CEO of the CJK Dictionary Institute in Japan, which specializes in the compilation of CJK (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) and Arabic lexical databases and is one of the world’s prime sources of CJK dictionaries. A lexicographer by profession, Halpern spent sixteen years compiling the New Japanese-English Character Dictionary published in the U.S. by NTC/McGraw-Hill in 1994.
As a research fellow at Showa Women’s University in Tokyo, he was the editor-in-chief of several kanji dictionaries for learners, which have become standard reference works. Halpern has published over twenty books, including The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary: Revised and Expanded available in early 2013, as well as numerous articles. He has given over 600 public lectures on Japanese language and culture, and presented several dozen papers at international conferences. Jack Halpern has lived in Japan for over 30 years. He was born in Germany and lived in six countries including France, Brazil, and the U.S. An avid polyglot, he has studied fifteen languages (fluent in ten).
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You'd look that number up in the book just like you'd look through the alphabet in an English dictionary, and when you arrived at the page you'd see part of the kanji along the side of the page at the top to help you find the kanji in question and then you're there. That wasn't quite so 難しい after all...
Included with the basic meaning of the kanji are the readings, the stroke order, and common compound words you'd find the kanji in. Extremely easy for a beginner to grasp. I used mine so much that the slipcover wore out and the paperback cover underneath started to wear out as well.. This is a book you'll want to keep with you for quick reference.
This dictionary is everything I wanted as an intermediate-level Japanese student in college. I use it to mostly help aid my reading in Japanese novels, and it comes in so hand that it's ridiculous.
First off, once you get used to how you search for things in the dictionary, it becomes relatively easy to find what you're looking for in the book. I bought this book specifically--mostly because of two benefits.
1) It has the commonly-used kanji in red instead of black, that way you know what kanji to particularly focus on. PLUS the stroke-order diagrams were a major seeling point for me.
And 2) The fact that it has over Joyo and Jinmei Kanji WITH an index in the back to look up kanji by the pronunciation--for those of you who want to learn the kanji for a particular word.
I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a serious student in the Japanese language. This book is brilliant and so well-organized.
To begin with, none of the three are definitively "better," really. They're different, and sort of aimed at different people and uses.
Kodansha Essential seems aimed primarily at someone who already knows Japanese pretty well, who is already accustomed to identifying kanji by their radicals, and wants something that will be fast without any frills or romaji or distractions. It's not really suitable, in my opinion, for a student, at least not in the first couple of years of study. You are given little help in identifying radicals - this is meant for people who either don't need, or don't want, that help. It covers the smallest number of Kanji, only the core 1945 Jouyou kanji list. It allows lookup by the 213 standard radicals, by on/kun readings or by total stroke count. The entries for each kanji are given without any romaji: the onyomi are in katakana, the kunyomi in hiragana and only the definitions in English. Pros: closest to an actual all-Japanese kanji dictionary, uncluttered and straightforward, reinforces no bad habits. Cons: Just finding the Kanji can be difficult, detail entries are very sparse.
Kodansha Learner's is my personal favorite of the three, and the safest choice for a student. It really aims at making helping you find the kanji in question. You can look kanji up by the 213 standard radicals (including secondary radicals), by on/kun readings or by the "SKIP" method. "SKIP" is a unique method aimed at breaking the kanji up into smaller up/down or left/right pieces regardless of whether those pieces are actual radicals. It has the 1945 Jouyou kanji, plus the 285 Jinmei name kanji. Each entry has a lot of detail, including stroke order and count, frequency information, the school grade it's taught in, and even the Unicode value. Pros: Easy to locate the kanji entry, lots of extra info. Cons: SKIP system isn't portable to other dictionaries, entries are somewhat crammed and cluttered.
Spahn-Hadamitzky Learner's is another good student choice. It covers the same Kanji as Kodansha Learner's. It allows you to look up kanji by either their on/kun reading or by a simplified radical system of 79 radicals. This is my biggest issue with it -- I think the 79-radical system is neither simple, like "SKIP" nor standard like the 213-radical system. On the other hand, I can see why someone might prefer this: it does add older, variant character forms, and examples of how each character might look when hand-written. Pros: Clean and lookup system is fairly simple. Cons: Lookup system is non-standard and there's no secondary alternative when it fails you.