Issue 20: J-Book Review
Because everybody should own a paper dictionary!
lectronic dictionaries and iPhones are the norm these days to look up words but I believe anyone should own a good ‘ol paper dictionary. You’d pick up extra words by just leafing through it, and no I don’t like to leaf through an electronic word-tank (not satisfactory). I found this dictionary『小学国語学習辞典（しょうがくこくごがくしゅうじてん）』on Amazon Japan (while browsing for other books actually) and I couldn’t help but be attracted to its charm. It’s a Japanese dictionary aimed at primary school kids, though, don’t let that fool you, it’s completely in Japanese so intermediate learners and above take note.
What kind of Dictionary?
Plain (adult) dictionaries are booooooring! Luckily『小学国語学習辞典』is aimed at school kids and it has…PICTURES! If you know me, anything with pictures and I’m sold! Although I’ve seen dictionaries with more pictures (I’ll review another one again soon), this one doesn’t boast an incredible amount, just one or two sprinkled on every page (but that’s enough to keep me satisfied).
This whopping 1253-page counting dictionary is written in a semi-encyclopedia way, meaning, apart from looking up words, you can also find tons of extra information like kanji learning, kanji strokes, trivia, word comparison, synonyms, etc. (Asian dictionaries often squeeze as much info in as possible, I ♥ that!). Word entries are written in hiragana followed by the kanji version and then the meaning(s). When closed, red kana and marks on the side of the book lets you know where too look in order to find words. Each page is also divided into three parts for easier navigation (how thoughtful).
Is this dictionary useful?
Since it’s a kid’s dictionary, don’t expect to find uber-complicated words, though 25000+ word entries is way more than the average advanced learner knows. Betcha don’t know words like『本塁打（ほんるいだ、home run）』『賺す（すかす、to coax, to cajole）』and『竿秤（さおばかり、beam balance）』? In any case, the real useful feature here is that almost all word entries have at least one sample sentence (some even have 5 or more!). This is extremely useful because you can immediately see words in context to further understand its meaning and usage. All kanji have furigana and the back of the book has a list with frequently mixed up words and a kanji list up to 6th grade (1006 kanji).
Even in this age of electronic dictionaries there is still room for a good ‘ol paper one.『小学国語学習辞典』is a solid dictionary to look up words and because of its encyclopedia-ish style, also a fun way to just leaf through and pick up extra words and info. If you are comfortable with explanations given in Japanese, this dictionary is for you. Clear entries, explanations and example sentences make it a great addition to any intermediate Japanese learner and above.
• title: 小学国語学習辞典
• pages: 1253
• dimensions: 22 x 16.5 cm
• extra: n/a
• language: Japanese
• publisher: 偕成社 (www.kaiseisha.co.jp)
• order: http://www.amazon.co.jp • http://www.whiterabbitpress.com
• ISBN: 978-4-03-920150-8
• special Chokochoko rating: 80%