Recommend me an Electronic Dictionary!

So after a half-decade hiatus from the academic world, I’m finally going back to college. Of the many things I’m going to finally sit down and study, one is Japanese. I’m looking forward to this in particular, since I like the language and the culture, and it seems like an actually useful skill.

That having been said, I see these electronic dictionary thingys as being popular in my college’s ESL/ENNL community and think they’re nifty, and it seems like the sort of thing that’d be handy (for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, they’re just little PDA-sized things to search for unfamiliar words and phrases, just like the name implies).

My questions, particularly for those of you into learning other languages and REALLY particularlly those into Japanese, are:

  1. Are these things REALLY as useful as they look? Some apparently can actually say the word, show stroke order for Kanji, etc… That sounds massively helpful.

  2. Any good ones? Bad ones?

  3. What features should I look for? I’m a male geek so I get really excited about features and bells and whistles, but don’t want to totally go ape…
    I appreciate any and all advice you all can provide.

Oh, you’re looking for something to carry with you? I was just going to recommend the dictionary.com website, but that’s not the same.

You wnt an electronic Japanese dictionary? Well, you’re in luck. The Japanese have a whole bunch of nifty devices out there. One thing to consider tho’, they’re mostly created for Japanese speakers who are learning ENglish so they’re not that intuitive in the other direction.

The Japanese Page has a nice comparison chart on most of the available models. (they also sell them but you can sometimes find them cheaper on ebay)

Personally, I have an old Canon WOrdtank IDF-3000 that I use daily. Mine doesn’t have a lot of the bells and whistles like stroke order diagrams but stroke orders actually pretty easy to learn based on some simple rules. I do have the ability to highlight a word and jump to its definition but it can be tough to look up compound kanji words. There was a thread on looking up kanji compounds a while back and another Doper found a dictionary he really liked. You might search for the thread.

It did take me sometime to learn how to use it effectively. In order to look up kanji, you need to understand how to count strokes and what radicals are. A lot of words are defined with example sentences so the dictionary become more useful with the more Japanese I’ve learned. I don’t think I would have gotten much from it if I hadn’t already been studying Japanese for maybe six months when I bought it.

Also, don’t think you’ll be able to immediately sit down with a book and your dictionary and translate stuff. Japanese grammar is so different (and ome words, liek different verb forms, are difficult for beginners to recognize) that it will take a long while before you’ll be able to really read Japanese, even with help. (heck, I’m still on intermediate books after almost six years)

Arigato!

flickster, I wish I had afully-functional laptop right now but my beloved PowerBook’s keyboard is very very dead so it’s kinda out for a classroom setting, and I’m thinking something to give me pronounciations as, you know, I shopping or wandering around looking at things…

tremorviolet, I was actually looking at a new Wordtank but the blooming thing is VERY expensive for a student budget… Thanks for the link; I’m sure it’ll be helpfull. And I’ve been looking over a few other “Teach yourself Japanese” sites for further insight (http://www.geocities.com/takasugishinji/japanese/index.html), so the grammar isn’t totally scaring me quite yet.

Sayonara!

(Apologies if my tags are all buggery, I’ve been in a tech writing class for the last 4 hours so I’m a little… sleepy.)

Arigato!

flickster, I wish I had afully-functional laptop right now but my beloved PowerBook’s keyboard is very very dead so it’s kinda out for a classroom setting, and I’m thinking something to give me pronounciations as, you know, I shopping or wandering around looking at things…

tremorviolet, I was actually looking at a new Wordtank but the blooming thing is VERY expensive for a student budget… Thanks for the link; I’m sure it’ll be helpfull. And I’ve been looking over a few other “Teach yourself Japanese” sites for further insight (http://www.geocities.com/takasugishinji/japanese/index.html), so the grammar isn’t totally scaring me quite yet.

Sayonara!

(Apologies if my tags are all buggery, I’ve been in a tech writing class for the last 4 hours so I’m a little… sleepy.)

)Also appologies if this double-posts… Bother.)