Overview of Principal Features
Numerous features distinguish the New Japanese-English
Japanese Character Dictionary, along with its various spinoff products,
as the most authoritative and easy-to-use kanji learning tool available
today. Below is an overview of these features. A detailed description is also available.The
most important spinoffs are the long-awaited Learner's Edition and Electronic Book edition.
Summary of Principal Features
A striking feature of this dictionary is the presentation of a central or core meaning. This is a concise keyword that provides a clear grasp of the central or most fundamental concept that links the principal senses of a character into one conceptual unit. This is a feature unique to this dictionary that has been highly praised by scholars and educators as a powerful and effective learning aid. Consider the core meaning of ―.
By grasping that the central concept is KEEP, it is immediately clear that such seemingly unrelated ideas as "pay attention to" and "detain" are merely variants of a single basic concept. The core meaning integrates them into a single conceptual unit. The core meaning is useful to the learner in five ways:
The core meaning is one of the most valuable features of this dictionary.
Traditionally, character dictionaries order meanings historically. This dictionary makes a significant departure from traditional character-dictionary lexicography by presenting meanings in a cogent order that clearly shows their interrelatedness. A keyword representing a dominant sense serves as the basis of organization, and the various senses are grouped in clusters in a manner that allows them to be conceived as a logically-structured, integrated unit.
Precisely-worded character meanings and a system of labels show exactly how each character functions as a word or word element. The meanings are presented in a manner that shows how the hundreds of thousands of compounds in Japanese can be generated from a basic stock of a few thousand characters. The functions of each character as a prefix, suffix, abbreviation, phonetic substitute, etc. are indicated, while the meanings of independent words are clearly distinguished from those of word elements.
The senses of each character are normally illustrated by numerous high-frequency compounds that provide maximally useful examples of each sense. They are arranged in a manner that clearly shows how they are formed from their constituent parts. This arrangement enables the user to easily infer the meanings of other compounds not found in the dictionary. It is, of course, possible to access compounds from each of their constituent characters.
The formation of a compound word is normally self-evident from the manner in which the compounds are grouped by meaning. When this is not obvious, a compound formation article describes how the compound is formed from its constituent parts; that is, how its constituent characters contribute to the meaning of the whole.
In this dictionary, we depart from tradition by introducing a new scheme for classifying Chinese characters, the System of Kanji Indexing by Patterns, which is based on the direct recognition of visual patterns (SKIP), -- a new concept that ensures maximum lookup speed with minimum effort. With the help of simple rules, each character is unambiguously classified under one of four easy-to-identify geometrical patterns: πΓP left-right,@πΑQ, πΎR enclosure, and ‘S solid. Within each group the characters up-down, are further subdivided into progressively smaller subgroups until each is assigned its own position.
The system introduced here enables the user to locate entries as quickly and as accurately as in alphabetical dictionaries. It is a product of seven years of computer-assisted research and experimentation on how kanji elements are intuitively perceived and classified. Since the system can be learned in a very short time and does not require prior knowledge of kanji elements, it has been praised by Japanese language educators as a major breakthrough in Chinese character lexicography.
A unique feature of this dictionary, presented in NJECD for the first time in any language, is the complete guidance it offers for the precise distinctions between kanji synonym groups are presented along with English keywords. Comparing these keywords, such as INFER, ― SPECULATE, ͺ CONJECTURE, and @ GUESS reveals both their differences and their similarities, and helps the student understand the different shades of meaning. This dictionary also serves as the first kanji thesaurus ever produced. That is, you can look up an unknown character from its meaning. The Kanji Thesaurus lets you look up characters in a semantically classified groups that allows instant access to the main entry for each character.
One characteristic of Japanese is the existence of a large number of or words that are pronounced the same but written differently and usually differing in meaning. This dictionary provides, for the first time in English, ample information on the discrimination of homophones (such as aku written J 'open', σ 'become vacant', and Ύ 'regain sight') and orthographic variants (interchangeable forms such as H ki and σ ki).
Homophones pose a serious challenge to learners because:
The approximately 600 usage notes clearly show the differences and similarities between the meanings of about 1410 homophones. Each sense is accompanied by numerous compounds and examples, which greatly contribute to an in-depth understanding. Since these differences are often subtle and confusing, this feature should prove to be of enormous value to the student.
A major feature of this dictionary is the speed and facility with which entries can be looked up. Although we have departed from the traditional method of ordering characters, we have not overlooked the needs of the traditionally oriented user. You have a choice of six methods of locating entries.
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A labeling system including status, subject, functional, and orthographic labels provides guidance on etymology, style, function, level of formality, etc. Thanks to these labels, which are absent in other character dictionaries, basic and frequent meanings are clearly distinguished from rare and archaic ones.
Although meanings are given up to the advanced level and beyond, the degree of importance of each character sense is indicated by various typographical differences and status labels for four levels of study. In addition, the degree of importance (frequency of occurrence and grade) of each character is indicated. For these reasons, the beginner and advanced student can use the dictionary with equal facility.
To round out a practical and useful reference work, especially for the more advanced student and the developer of teaching materials, various appendixes give the user quick access to valuable reference data. This includes frequency lists, a list of kanji synonyms, abbreviations of place names, and others.