Saturday, April 12, 2008


I've been looking for this for months!

The. Absolute. Best. Japanese-English dictionary in the world is Jim Breen's edict, which resides at Monash University in Australia. That's a given, a sine qua non.

There have only ever been two decent user interfaces for this astonishing mass of information, Sergey Kurkin's JEDict for Macintosh OS X, and of course the excrutiatingly obscure cross-platform original from 1997, JavaDict, both now getting very long in the tooth. And nothing at all worth mentioning for Windows, especially Vista!

Until now... (Well, 2006 anyway. It's new to me!)

Rikaichan 1.01 is a humble-seeming Firefox add-on that blazes into the hungry eye like a flaming plum pudding of ridiculously sybaritic delight. (As you can see, it doesn't take much to make a hobo linguist happy!)

Rikaichan either translates Japanese text in web pages as you slide your cursor along, context-wise, or allows you to do fullpage dictionary searches from a small lookup bar. The information presented is Breen's Own Wordtrove, organized in comprehensive fashion on a clean, well-designed (and above all local) webpage. This magic it accomplishes in real time, instantaneously!*

This one applet, together with my totally unexpected and very happy discovery of the Japanese IME pad (you can draw the kanji you're looking for), has completely restored my faith in the future of free software. Bravo, guys! This is pioneering stuff.
*You can look up Japanese names, too! The trick is to press the Enter key once or twice. This feature is probably documented somewhere, but it seems a wee bit obscure.



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