I mentioned it several months ago, so finally here is my denshi-jisho! A denshi-jisho is an electronic dictionary, which main use is to look up for words and kanji you don't understand:
There is a various range of prices, up to several hundred dollars. Lucky Nintendo DS owners can buy this small cartridge, for the price of a standard game, thereby turning their console into a denshi-jisho:
On top of the price, this denshi-jisho makes good use of the touch screen (most actual denshi-jisho have no touch screen) and has an excellent character recognition algorithm, which is basically not based on shapes but mainly on the number, direction and order of the strokes. This method is perfectly suited because in Japanese, each kanji's number, direction and order of strokes is strictly defined. It may sound a tremendous task to remember those for all kanji, but there are general rules that really make it easy to remember the stroke order, even though there are a number of exceptions.
Anyway, by applying that system to an electronic dictionary, even poorly written characters can be recognized. No matter whether strokes partially overlap one another where they shouldn't, if you got the right number, it usually works perfectly.
For instance, if I draw this ugly kanji:
I just need to wait two-three seconds and it is automatically recognized:
Even if it's not the character I wanted to write, I just click it to get a list a similar kanji:
At the top are listed all words that begin with that kanji. I can then browse the pages, or keep writing characters to refine my search. The top screen displays definitions and examples:
Apart from the kanji recognition, there are several other nice features. Fast, useful, cheap and effective, plus with the great autonomy and superbly designed sleep mode of the Nintendo DS, I can use it for several days without turning it off or recharging it...Now that's a handheld console!
It is worth noting that there are so many characters, some of them rarely used, that even Japanese people use denshi-jisho, although much less frequently than us of course!
Category: Japanese language