Sunday, February 29, 2004


A couple of days ago, I remarked that the bilingual edition of Fruits Basket left out the furigana from the kanji in the Japanese text. But I should point out that, even for a novice reader of Japanese, there's no reason to be scared of kanji without furigana. True, a kanji dictionary (or "character dictionary," as is the more usual term) isn't as straightforward to use as a regular Japanese-English dictionary. But NTC's New Japanese-English Character Dictionary and Mark Spahn and Wolfgang Hadamitzky's Japanese Character Dictionary are both good character dictionaries and fairly easy to use. (The former is simpler for beginners, while the latter is more convenient once you have some experience, and more comprehensive; I haven't used Nelson's, the other major character dictionary, so I can't comment on it.) And once you've learned how to use a character dictionary, looking kanji up poses no particular problems, though it does slow you down. The feature of written Japanese that really makes reading difficult is its failure to put spaces between words, but furigana doesn't help with that.

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