As previously stated, I really want to learn Japanese. To this end i bought a japanese dictionary/translator. It does work very well and I have managed to use it some, but it has pros and cons like everything in life.
The translator itself is very handy, as you can see it has one big screen, which is also a touch screen for easy navigation and selection. The bottom screen is where you write in Kanji to have the translator recognize it. The first catch with this is that it is stroke-sensitive, by which i mean it senses in which direction a stroke is made and in which order they are made. This is then used to select a Kanji, rather than just matching exact looks. The pro with this is that when you actually know the rules for drawing Kanji you don’t have to draw them prettily to make it recognize them. After you’ve drawn one and it selects it wrong, you can bring up options to which the character drawn might be as well. Usually I find the correct character in the alternatives.
Here it is with some scale, a manga book under it and my hand for reference, as well as my moleskine.
As you can see it’s not very big, but big enough to make the buttons and such easy to use. It weighs very little so it’s easy to bring along.
One thing I’ve found in trying to use this is not that all the menus are in Japanese, you get around that pretty quick by using the short English quick-use manual. The biggest problem for me right now is that it’s dictionary and word-translator. Which I of course knew and wanted, but this means when trying to translate for instance the manga, I have to translate character by character without context, making it somewhat difficult to put together into a sentence. I however wanted this to be able to learn words and kanji by themselves, the problem comes from me not knowing enough theory to put it together correctly.
As I said before, the menus are in Japanese and the English manual is short so there is a lot I don’t know about this thing yet.
There is space for microSD, a USB plug for connecting to the computer and headphones – mainly for playing the 70 000 words a native speaker has recorded into the thing. I don’t know what to do with either the SD or the USB.
Therefore, the device is more useful the more Japanese you know.
As you can see, I’ve already pimped it with a cube
Learning Japanese does sometimes seem like an insurmountable task, thousands upon thousands of words to learn and thousands upon thousands of characters to learn. All without coming into natural daily contact with it. I think while living here I could learn to speak the language probably within 6 months, but at home, the only contact I would have with the language outside of myself trying to learn it – would be if I watched anime, which I unfortunately don’t do very much because I can’t seem to find really good ones. I really doubt there are people subtitling normal Japanese TV-shows and putting them online as well, which makes natural contact all the more difficult.
I’m planning on trying to schedule like and hour a day for learning, but it requires huge amounts of discipline. Discipline I don’t actually believe I have, school easily takes a hold of your life and it’s extremely easy and convenient to claim “I don’t have time”.
On the other hand, it would kick ass to be able to speak three languages, and to have the third one be Japanese would just be beyond awesome.