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O'Neill
14th April 2002, 04:06
I am seeking the help of anyone who has the Nelson kanji text. I am seeking the Nelson #'s for a few terms, can anyone help? I sold mine awhile back and now regret it. Thanks.

Please email me if ya can help.

P Goldsbury
17th April 2002, 05:10
I am not sure what you want. Another copy of the book, or information about some words to be found in it?

The old Nelson has been superseded by a revised edition, though the old version is still available here. The revised edition is also published by Tuttle and should be available outside Japan.

However, Nelson (in either version) has its limitations, as do Halpern's dictionary and Hadamitzky/Spahn's "Kanji Dictionary". If your Japanese reading is up to it, the 'Kojien' (Iwanami Shoten) or 'Daijirin' (Sanseido Shoten) are better, in my opinion.

Best regards,
______________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

O'Neill
17th April 2002, 05:18
I have a small list of terms as I need the nelson numbers. I am using a Japanese translation program and it converts the romanji by providing the nelson #. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Erin O'Neill

P Goldsbury
17th April 2002, 09:25
Perhaps you'd better send me the list. The problem is that unless the words are regular compound words, which my computer's dictionary can recognise, there is an immense range of possibilities if the list is simply single characters written in Romaji.

My university e-mail address is:
pagolds@hiroshima-u.ac.jp

_______________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

Earl Hartman
17th April 2002, 19:33
Professor Goldsbury:

Are you familiar with the work of Jack Halpern? He is an Israeli who has lived in Japan for years uncounted and who speaks unbelieveably good Japanese, better than any other foreigner I have ever met, in addition to a plethora of other languages. He also teaches Yiddish to Japanese people in Tokyo.

He is a serious scholar of Japanese and, when I left Japan, was trying to get funding for a new kanji dictionary which classified and arranged the kanji according to a new method and theory which he himself developed. I am not familiar with the method he created, and I have not spoken with him in more than 15 years, but he is still in Japan AFAIK.

Anyway, this is a long way of asking if you know of him, whether or not he has finally published his dictionary, if you know of it, and if so, what you think of it.

Chris Li
18th April 2002, 00:02
Originally posted by Earl Hartman
Anyway, this is a long way of asking if you know of him, whether or not he has finally published his dictionary, if you know of it, and if so, what you think of it.

His dictionary came out a number (more than 10?) years ago. It's got some good points and some bad points. The classification method is interesting, but I never really got the hang of it. Since normal Japanese monolingual dictionaries don't use anything like it I never felt motivated enought to spend much time on it.

Best,

Chris

Earl Hartman
18th April 2002, 00:05
Chris:

Thanks. I assume from your post that it is no more or less useful that Nelson's or any other standard work?

Anyhow, what is the name of the dictionary and where is it available?

Thanks for your time.

Chris Li
18th April 2002, 00:42
Originally posted by Earl Hartman
Chris:

Thanks. I assume from your post that it is no more or less useful that Nelson's or any other standard work?

Anyhow, what is the name of the dictionary and where is it available?

Thanks for your time.

New Japanese English Character Dictionary
Jack Halpern
(c) 1990 Kenkyusha Limited
ISBN 4-7674-9040-5

Nelson is probably a little more useful, although that depends on the person, I suppose. I'd recommend monolingual Kanji dictionaries if possible, they tend to be much more useful - I hardly ever refer to either Nelson or Halpern.

Best,

Chris

Earl Hartman
18th April 2002, 01:12
Chris:

Thanks. I have Nelson's and Japanese only kanji dictionaries (Nelson's is mine, the others belong to my wife) and while I use both I am more used to Nelson's just through long use. In any case, a Japanese only dictionary is a lot like Nelson's, just without the English. As far as I can tell, the characters are arranged by radical and stroke number in pretty much the same way.

However, monolingual character dictionaries are only useful for people whose Japanese is already sufficiently fluent to render English definitions of the kanji, and various compounds using it, unnecessary. Most people are not at that level.

P Goldsbury
18th April 2002, 01:36
Mr Hartman,

I have never met Jack Halpern, but I have his dictionary, which, presumably, is the one he was trying to raise funding for. It is the ?VpT "New Japanese-English Character Dictionary", published in 1990 by Kenkyusha. The ISBN is 4-7674-9040-5 and the cost in Japan is 8,000 yen.

I have mixed feelings about the dictionary, but part of the reason for this is the fact that I cut my own teeth on Nelson and over the years have got used to his way of classifying the characters according to the 214 radical system. However, when Spahn & Hadamitzky produced their "Kanji Dictionary" in 1996, I accustomed myself to their, also new and different (from Halpern's), way of classifying characters because Spahn & Hadamitzky list compound words under each character. Halpern is somewhere in between, since he has his own system of classification (which, of course, he swears by), but, like Nelson, lists compounds only under their first character. Perhaps my mixed feelings can best be conveyed by an example. Here are the various explanations of the character ? BU.

Nelson classifies this character under Radical 77 (~), with 4 strokes. It has the number 2959. After giving the readings, Nelson lists 69 compounds, all classified according to stroke order of the next character (i.e., Nelson's interpretation of this).

With Spahn & Hadamitzky, ? is classified as a radical (hoko, spear; 62 in Nelson), with 5 extra strokes. The radicals are given numbers and letters and the 'hoko' radical is 4n. ? is the 3rd character with 5 extra strokes, so it is 4n5.3. Spahn & Hadamitzky then give 45 compounds with ? in the first position, 30 compounds with ? as the second character, and 1 with it in the 3rd position (??:military observer).

Halpern includes ? in his 3rd category (1 is 'left-right'; 2 is 'top-bottom'; 3 is 'enclosure'). Since ? has 4 extra strokes (against 5 in Spahn & Hadamitzky), Halpern classifies it as 5-4-4, with the number 3210 in the dictionary. Halpern then gives 13 compounds with ? as the fist character. However, Halpern does what the other two dictionaries do not do. He gives the stroke order of the character and classifies the compounds according to meaning. Thus, ?,??p,?,? are givn under the first sense ('military affairs, military arts, sciece of war'); ?m,? ? appear under 'warriors'; ?,? are given under 'armaments, weapons'; ?^ appears under 'war'; and ?E is listed under 'courage'. An "independent" meaning of ? appears, as in Bushido. One example is give, namely, ?: "train oneself in military arts".

I then checked these entries against the compounds given in the two monolingual dictionaries I have here at home: the 'Kojien' and Kadokawa's 'Daijigen' published in 1992. Since the 'Kojien' lists all the words under their hiragana readings, it is useless as a means of finding character compounds. In the 'Daijigen', ? appears under Radical 77, as with Nelson, with 11 meanings for the character itself and 71 compounds, each with several meanings given.

As you see, Nelson (I used the new edition, revised by John Haig et al. from the University of Hawaii), Spahn & Hadamitzky, and Halpern all have their merits and drawbacks. I applaud Halpern for making a serious effort to classify compounds according to their meanings or derivations, but I selected ? deliberately because I am not sure that his classification here is entirely sound. It works very well with some characters but less well with others.

Would I recommend Halpern to students? These dictionaries are for the serious student who is too advanced for the smaller 'learner' dictionaries and is taking the first steps into the world of 'real' written Japanese, in newspapers and literature. I think that monolingual dictionaries are indispensable here, but for these you really need: (1) thorough knowledge of the 214-radical system; (2) ability to count strokes forwards, backwards and sideways, (3) a fair knowledge of the joyo-kanji. The value of Halpern's dictionary is that it presents an enlightened approach to written Japanese, more like the image I think the Japanese themselves have of the written language - a kind of mental art gallery. But the range of compounds given is far too inadequate for the serious student. Nelson is much better here, but, by the time the student can use Nelson quickly and easily, he/she would be better off using the 'Kojien' or Sanseido's 'Daijirin'.

Best regards,
______________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

Earl Hartman
18th April 2002, 01:57
Professor Goldsbury:

Thanks for taking the time to pen (keyboard?) such a thoughtful reply. In a nutshell, it appears that Halpern is not necessarily better or worse than the alternatives, just different, and that if you are 1) really serious about written Japanese and 2) are already possessed of the requisite knowledge of kanji (i.e., you can alrady read almost as fluently as a native speaker), you should use a "real" (i.e., Japanese only) Japanese character dictionary just like any Japanese person normally would.

Makes sense.

However, that doesn't help the people whose Japanese is not that good yet. For such people, who would you recommend?

P Goldsbury
18th April 2002, 02:04
While I was composing my last post, and making a visual spell-check, I saw your correspondence with Chris Li. Chris Li always talks much sense about Japanese and I share all his sentiments. I would add one thing to my last post.

If you need a large dictionary for a student who is not ready for the likes of the 'Kojien', which would it be? I can imagine someone prefering Halpern to the other two, on the grounds that mastering Halpern's classification will yield a closer and quicker familiarity with the 214 radical system than Nelson's strictly linear approach. I cannot make a judgement here because I used Nelson from the very beginning.

Perhaps this question is similar to another one: is James Heisig's system for memorising kanji effective. Mr Heisig is also a formidable scholar of Japanese and has written some very good stuff on Kitaro Nishida and the Kyoto School. But his mnemonics remind me, uncomfortably, of learning Latin and Greek at school.

Best regards,
_______________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

P Goldsbury
18th April 2002, 02:20
A final comment.

I occasionally do translations and the last one was a poem for Hiroshima City, to be used in their new memorial museum for A-bomb victims. The bilingual dictionary I used was Spahn & Hadamitzky, supplemented by the New Nelson. As a tool, I think the fact that this dictionary (Spahn & Hadamitzky) lists compounds under each constituent character outweighs the general querkiness of the classification system. In any case, the serious student is going to have to master the 214 radicals sooner or later: this has to be taken for granted. The New Nelson has a Universal Radical Index, which classifies all the characters in the dictionary under any one of their constituent radicals. Though very cumbersome, its focus is the 214 radical system and is pretty foolproof.
_______________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University