The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary
(84 customer reviews)
The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary answers the urgent need for an easy-to-use kanji dictionary compact enough to be easily carried around, yet detailed enough to satisfy the practical needs of the beginning and intermediate learner.
Its basic goal is to give the learner a thorough understanding of kanji by providing instant access to a wealth of useful information on the meanings, readings, and compounds. Normally, the learner must memorize numerous compounds as unrelated units. A unique feature of this dictionary that overcomes this difficulty is the core meaning, a concise keyword that defines the dominant sense of each character, followed by detailed character meanings and numerous compounds that clearly show how thousands of building blocks are combined to form countless compound words.
Another unique feature is the System of Kanji Indexing by Patterns (SKIP), an indexing system that enables the user to locate characters as quickly and as accurately as in alphabetical dictionaries.
Modern linguistic theory has been effectively integrated with sophisticated information technology to produce the most useful kanji learner's dictionary ever compiled. For the first time, learners have at their fingertips a wealth of information that is linguistically accurate, easy to use, and carefully adapted to their practical needs.
o 2,230 entry characters, including all the kanji in the Joyo and Jinmei Kanji lists
o 41,000 senses for 31,300 words and word elements show how each character contributes to the meanings of compounds
o 1,200 homophones with core meanings explain differences between closely related characters
o 386 variant forms used in prewar literature and in names
o 1,945 stroke order diagrams show you how to write each kanji stroke by stroke
o 7,200 character readings, including name readings
o Over 2,000 cross-references and five appendixes give instant access to a mass of useful reference data
- Amazon Sales Rank: #397734 in Books
- Published on:
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 7.01" h x 5.24" w x .0" l, 1.90 pounds
- Binding: Paperback
- 1008 pages
About the Author
Helpern is a Kodansha International author.
Most helpful customer reviews
74 of 74 people found the following review helpful.
Irreplaceable- for beginners and non-beginners alike
By Charles E. Stevens
I'm not sure why I took so long to write a review for this dictionary ... I've been using the Kanji Learner's Dictionary for almost three years now and have nothing but good things to say about it. The best thing about this dictionary is its size. All of the commonly used kanji and kanji compounds are included in a compact volume. When you're reading a newspaper article and come across an unfamiliar kanji/compound, or when you're writing a letter (or homework, etc.) and you can visualize a character but can't quite remember how it's written, who wants to lug out some 100 pound (slight exaggeration) kanji dictionary when you can quickly leaf through this one?
Granted, once you get out of the beginning stages, you will need a more thorough dictionary. But I have found myself going back to this one every single time, unless there's a character or compound that doesn't appear in it (but honestly, I would say that happens only 1-5% of the time). It's that convenient.
If you are looking for your first kanji dictionary, definitely buy this one- you'll find yourself going back to it again and again. If you only have a huge kanji dictionary, buy this one too- you'll love the size, and be surprised by the fact that this dictionary actually has the vast majority of kanji/compounds that you're looking for ...
87 of 89 people found the following review helpful.
The _BEST_ Kanji dictionary for beginning to low advanced
By A Customer
I cannot recommend this dictionary highly enough. There is simply no better dictionary for beginning and intermediate students, and it can be used even into advanced studies. I will be taking the Japanese Proficiency test for 2 kyu soon, which requires reading over 1,200 kanji, and I still use this dictionary. If it had been published when I first began my Japanese study, I might be making plans to take the 1 kyu test instead of 2 kyu. It's that good.
When I came to Japan, I inherited three kanji dictionaries from various sources, and they were all basically useless, even though I had already studied Japanese off and on for a total of about a year's worth of university-level coursework. I went shopping for a new dictionary a few months after getting here, and thankfully I found the Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary, which had just been published a short time before.
The SKIP lookup system makes so much sense that I wonder why no one had ever thought of it before. While it does take a small amount of practice to become completely proficient in using SKIP, the traditional indexing by radical is so cumbersome that you often have to fall back on the possible readings (on-yomi or kun-yomi) for a character to find the right entry. If you are trying to find a totally unfamiliar kanji, whose reading you don't know, this is completely hopeless.
The Kanji Learner's dictionary also includes a radical index for those who learned the traditional system, or for the very few cases where looking things up by radical is faster or easier. In other dictionaries, main indexing is _only_ by radical. This is a problem since many modern kanji have been simplified so much that the original radical it is traditionally indexed under has been simplified out of existence. That was something I didn't know until I had already been studying Japanese for over a year. After looking for one character ("au," to meet) for almost 5 minutes, I had to ask my teacher where it was indexed in the class dictionary.
My test for which dictionary to buy was actually to see how easy it would be for someone with no prior knowledge to find the kanji for "au." Most dictionaries (and my teacher) list it under the radical entry for sun, which is no longer present in the modern form of the character. If you didn't already know about the "lost" radical you wouldn't be able to find it at all by using a traditional index, and if you already know that much about the kanji, you don't really need a dictionary to look it up!
The entries in the Kanji Learner's Dictionary include the most commonly-used compounds, grouped by reading, and unlike almost every other dictionary I've seen so far, it includes words that do not use the entry kanji in the front position. The compound words include many technical terms and words that are often used in publications, but often are hard to find in anything other than a massively exhaustive word dictionary. The possible readings (yomi) are written in roman letters (romaji). Though some may say this is not a good thing, in that kana is ultimately more useful for learning to read Japanese, I think it should not be necessary for a student to have to learn all of the kana before starting to learn kanji.
The frequency of use ranking has been absolutely invaluable in furthering my studies. Some of the kanji introduced in the first six years of elementary school as dictated by the Ministry of Education don't even make the top 1,000 most used. Instead of using the Japanese education standards, I used the frequency table compiled for this dictionary. It made an immediate difference in how well I was able to pick up new kanji since the ones I was studying first were the ones I was most likely to see in newspapers and other publications.
The only downside to this dictionary is that it is somewhat limited for advanced studies. With entries for only 2,230 kanji, you sometimes cannot find an entry for some less common characters. Of course, once you progress to the point where you find a need to look up kanji that are not included in this dictionary, you can graduate to its big brother, the New Japanese-English Character Dictionary, which is the only other kanji dictionary I would recommend.
If you are a beginning through advanced-intermediate student of Japanese, buy this dictionary now! Save yourself the pain of struggling to learn a primitive and outmoded indexing system that requires knowledge of the characters that you are obviously still trying to acquire. Every minute you spend unsuccessfully looking for a character is a minute you could be studying instead. This dictionary will save you weeks worth of those wasted minutes and will give you the tools to intelligently study Japanese characters.
By the time you learn enough Japanese to require using a traditionally indexed dictionary, you will know enough about kanji to use that dictionary with the minimum of pain, though I guarantee you will miss being able to look up complicated kanji using the SKIP method. People who say otherwise are geniuses, total Japaniphiles who love everything Japanese regardless of how unnecessarily difficult some of their traditional ways of doing things can be, or those who invested massive amounts of time and effort in learning the "traditional" way and are jealous of the fact that this revolutionary dictionary only came out a couple of years ago.
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful.
By Larry West
This is so well-designed, it is a joy to use.
(I'm in my second year of learning Japanese [Japanese for Busy People series], first term of real attention to Kanji.)
The SKIP system is just one of five ways of looking up kanji; I've used them all now (even the frequency-ranking one). It's nice but just one facet of the dictionary.
"Little things" like the layout, the indices, the introductory explanations, the paper, the font, the size are all so good that one doesn't even really notice them, they just seem natural, like a good tool should be. Now other dictionaries (like the complete Nelson which I have and respect and still use when necessary) seem awkward, if not ugly.
The keywords in red and the organization of the definitions really do help give (to this novice anyway) a feel for the core meanings.
Plus, for computer use, the Unicode numbers are given which is a big time-saver (for me anyway).
It's hard to imagine a more perfectly balanced kanji dictionary for the beginner.See all 84 customer reviews...