Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Why a Japanese-English dictionary is not ideal

How many of you have switched to a Japanese-Japanese dictionary?

Because sooner or later you have to.
At first everybody will study with a Japanese-English dictionary.
But there is a limit to what these dictionaries can provide.
Most translations are just approximations. They will not be exact translations.
If you want to know the exact meaning of a word you will have to go to a Japanese-Japanese dictionary.

For example what is the meaning of 手?
Most dictionaries will say "hand".

But that is not what Japanese dictionaries say:
The first meanig of 手 is the part of the human body from the shoulder to the fingertips:

Even though 手 may also be translated as "hand", that is not the first meaning of the word.

Can you think of other words whose meanings are not exactly correct in a Japanese-English dictionary?

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