Electronic Dictionary FAQ

Why is there no model-specific information listed on this website?

Are there any English/Japanese dictionaries that use romaji?

Are there any dictionaries that allow search for kanji by writing on the screen?

Are there any dictionaries that come with an English manual?

Are there an dictionaries the display the entries and entry text in English?

I can't read kanji. Are there any electronic dictionaries with furigana?

Are there any electronic dictionaries that are better for reading or writing kanji?


Question: Why is there no model-specific information listed on this website?

Answer: The market has grown and it is difficult to keep up with all the new models. The site should give you the information you need to make an informed decision. You will still need to do some research on the specific models based on your needs. But after visiting this site, you will hopefully understand what you are looking for.


Question: Are there any English/Japanese dictionaries that use romaji?

Answer: The Seiko RM-2000 is a romanized electronic dictionary and displays Japanese text in English, kanji/kana, and romanized Japanese. But with this particular model the number of entries is considerably smaller than other dictionaries I discuss on this site. If you are going to do any serious studying, I think you will grow out of this model quickly.


Question: Are there any dictionaries that allow search for kanji by writing on the screen?

Answer: There are palm-pilot type dictionaries that let you search for kanji by drawing them on the screen. A very cool feature for looking up kanji if you will be doing a lot of reading. The Casio Ex-Word XD-470 is one of these. This and similar models I have seen, are exclusively for the Japanese market so have little or no jump capability and are more difficult to use.

Also if you want to build your own, or install software on your existing PDA, see PDA Dictionaries


Question: Are there any dictionaries that come with an English manual?

Answer: Most of the Canon IDF series models have English manuals. Be sure to specifically request one with your purchase. If you cannot get a manual when you purchase the dictionary, you may be able to get one from Canon directly. If you speak Japanese, I am told you can request a free English Canon Wordtank manual for your model from the Canon support center at 043-211-9632 in Japan. Other than the Canon I do not know of any manufacturer that supplies English manuals. I wrote an unofficial English manual for the Sharp PW-9700 which should also apply to many of the Sharp PW and PWA series models.


Question: Are there an dictionaries the display the entries and entry text in English?

Answer: No. The Canon Wordtank models can display the menus in English, but the entry text for definitions are in kanji. This is why the jump feature is so important. When you see a kanji you do not know, you can directly jump to that words definition in the Jap->Eng dictionary. This is hard at first because you may need to jump to several words in a sentence, but you get use to it. On most dictionaries the examples are in Japanese and English. For example, "Take down the book from the top shelf - ichiban ue no tana kara hon o toru". Romaji shown here but actual examples are in kanji. These examples can be a very good learning tool.


Question: I can't read kanji. Are there any electronic dictionaries with furigana?

Answer:This is a very good question. The kanji trips everyone up. And romaji is not the answer. So furigana, which is the small hiragana displayed above kanji would be perfect. The best of both worlds. The simple answer is I have never heard of such dictionary. What you need to do is to jump to the definitions of the kanji you don't know. That will likely be all of the kanji at first. This is why the jump feature is so important!


Question: Are there any electronic dictionaries that are better for reading or writing kanji?

Answer: Dictionaries that have a kanji compound list are slightly better for reading kanji because. Especially when the compounds contain the search kanji in multiple positions. Sharp PW models have such a compound list. Dictionaries that can display the kanji stroke order are better for writing. The Canon G50 with its animated kanji stroke feature meets this requirement nicely.