The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary: Revised and Expanded ペーパーバック – 2013/5/31
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With The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary: Revised and Expanded, learners finally have at their fingertips accurate and in-depth information on all the kanji prescribed by the Japanese government. In all, 3,002 characters — 772 more than in the first edition — fill its pages, making it the most comprehensive and up-to-date dictionary of its kind.
The main goal of the dictionary is to give the learner instant access to a wealth of useful information on kanji, including their meanings, readings, stroke order, and usage in compounds.
Compounds pose a special problem for learners. Normally one must memorize them as unrelated units. A unique feature of this dictionary that overcomes this difficulty is the core meaning, a concise keyword that defines the dominant sense of each kanji, followed by character meanings, or specific senses the kanji can have when used in the living language. Together these features help learners understand the logic behind compound formation.
Another unique feature is the System of Kanji Indexing by Patterns (SKIP), a revolutionary indexing system that has gained widespread popularity because it enables the user to locate characters as quickly and as accurately as in alphabetical dictionaries. With SKIP, all one needs to do to find a kanji is identify the geometrical pattern to which it belongs, then count the strokes in each part of that pattern — a much speedier process than searching by traditional methods.
These features, and many more, make this dictionary the most powerful kanji-learning tool ever devised.
"Up-to-date, reliable, and easy to use … this beautifully designed dictionary meets the needs of a wide range of Japanese language learners."—Y.-H. Tohsaku, President, American Association of Teachers of Japanese
"A must for those who wish to overcome the obstacles posed by the study of kanji … an excellent tool that allows even beginners to look up kanji with ease."—Akito Ozaki, President, The Society for Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language
I would have at least given it two or three stars, but I also find Halpern's translations to be questionable or too vague to offer any clarity on actual meaning more often than not.
If you don't know the stroke count, and want to look by the kanji, flip to the very back of the book. There, the kanji are sorted into an index by the same method, which makes it easy to find which one you are looking for and tells the exact page to flip to.
Overall, I recommend this book if you are planning to translate the most common kanji over and over again for practice. If you only need it for once-in-a-while use, I recommend using an online lookup tool or the app version of this book.
Extremely valuable are the Core meanings with the pertinent Kanji in red. If you know a core meaning, you can understand or sense what an unknown compound means. Handy as well are the stroke order diagrams to help you learn to write the characters better and to count strokes correctly. There are also tips for correct counting of strokes in Appendix 2.
I have used the SKIP method with the first edition's electronic version as well as in the App so I was a bit concerned the paper version would slow me down. Not at all! I now prefer the paperback for the beauty of it and for browsing.
Gone is the romaji of the first edition making this a highly more usable dictionary, more professional and more in line with current teaching. There are 3002 kanji, 772 more than the first edition and thousands of compounds which appear to be well chosen. The meanings are precise, well written and also well chosen. The front and back material is very interesting and Jack Halpern and the others who worked on this dictionary should be highly applauded and greatly thanked!
The paper is perfect with some see through but not in anyway disturbing, the text remains quite clear.The type used for the hiragana and katakana is beautifully clear and so easy to read, with no inky muddiness, no lines running together. It is very well designed, the cover is sturdy. The center margin is wide enough for readability when opened. At 1 3/4 inch thick, it is full value for the money.
I don't feel you have to be only a learner to get full value from this dictionary. It is going to be by my side for many years. Thank you Jack Halpern!
I presumably fall in somewhere between the beginner and the intermediate level, I can recognize and read up to 600 kanji, and hundreds of words made of kanji, but I have yet to notice any mistakes. For more advanced vocabulary, it would be better if there were more words of the given kanji, but it is not essential for the beginner or lower intermediate.
It's very tiny, pocket-sized but a little bit thick. The most used kanji are in red, others in black. The design, page color, fonts, etc. are adjusted so it won't be tiring for your eyes.
There is one thing I wanted to be different. Cover is too thin, so I fear that I will damage it if I don't carry very carefully. It comes with a case, but I wish there was a hard cover version.