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TFW your textbook & dictionary lead you astray

#1
I work in a coworking space with a lot of native Japanese speakers and one of my officemates is pregnant.

I referred to her as 産婦, which is the word that is both in my textbook and in my dictionary. 

They promptly corrected me to say the correct word is 妊婦 - which was not in my textbook, but is also in the dictionary.

They're like: "We understand 産婦 - it's part of 産婦人科 after all (which is *also* in my textbook). But we would never use it."
Edited: 2017-02-09, 6:41 pm
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#2
It's clear cut from the Japanese dictionary
産婦: 出産直前または直後の女性。 さん‐ぷ【
妊婦 :妊婦妊娠している婦人。
Edited: 2017-02-09, 7:40 pm
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#3
"Hey, colleague X, congratulations on your upcoming parturition!"

It happens to all of us. I used to screw up words I only knew from books all the time as a child.
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#4
This was a big problem for me when I was first learning Japanese. Of course howtosavealif3 is being cheeky because not all Japanese learners are at the level to read a monolingual dictionary. Nevertheless, I highly recommend you work towards reading a monolingual dictionary. Every week, try to see if you can understand the definitions yet. One day you'll notice you can. 

Also, throw away your paper dictionaries and textbooks for finding words; we got the internet now.
Try typing "pregnant 日本語" into google and you'll get plenty of E - J definitions AND example sentences which are helpful for beginners to figure out which words are strangely scientific/not-spoken. 

also, http://ejje.weblio.jp/is a helpful online dictionary.
Edited: 2017-02-12, 4:23 am
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#5
The only one that comes to mind at the moment is ゼリー. It was listed in the CORE decks as "jelly", which is a synonym for "jam" in US English, though apparently the word means what americans usually call "jello" in other versions of English. I didn't know that at the time & thought ゼリー meant "jam", and Japanese people gave me the weirdest looks when I said I liked toast with ゼリー. Tongue The lesson of this story is: Always find out & keep in mind which variant of English your learning resources are written in, especially if it differs from the one you speak. On the plus side I learned more about differences between UK & US English, so it wasn't too much of a waste of time, even if it was kind of embarrassing.
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#6
(2017-02-12, 5:24 am)Bokusenou Wrote: The only one that comes to mind at the moment is ゼリー. It was listed in the CORE decks as "jelly", which is a synonym for "jam" in US English, though apparently the word means what americans usually call "jello" in other versions of English. I didn't know that at the time & thought ゼリー meant "jam", and Japanese people gave me the weirdest looks when I said I liked toast with ゼリー.  Tongue  The lesson of this story is: Always find out & keep in mind which variant of English your learning resources are written in, especially if it differs from the one you speak. On the plus side I learned more about differences between UK & US English, so it wasn't too much of a waste of time, even if it was kind of embarrassing.

In what version of English does jelly mean jello.

All I know is you can't peanut butter your, oh never mind.
Edited: 2017-02-12, 1:17 pm
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#7
(2017-02-12, 1:16 pm)Dudeist Wrote:
(2017-02-12, 5:24 am)Bokusenou Wrote: The only one that comes to mind at the moment is ゼリー. It was listed in the CORE decks as "jelly", which is a synonym for "jam" in US English, though apparently the word means what americans usually call "jello" in other versions of English. I didn't know that at the time & thought ゼリー meant "jam", and Japanese people gave me the weirdest looks when I said I liked toast with ゼリー.  Tongue  The lesson of this story is: Always find out & keep in mind which variant of English your learning resources are written in, especially if it differs from the one you speak. On the plus side I learned more about differences between UK & US English, so it wasn't too much of a waste of time, even if it was kind of embarrassing.

In what version of English does jelly mean jello.

All I know is you can't peanut butter your, oh never mind.
Lol, at least British English & Australian English I think. Possibly others.
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#8
Yeah, I've come across that one too. Although it isn't jello, exactly - closer to what we might call gelatin. A dessert with, um, bouncy properties.

(LOL! I went looking for images of what I was thinking of, and came across a perfect description in a thread discussing the nature of "jelly" in Britain:

To us, the word "jelly" means what I think you guys call gelatin, stuff you buy in cubes or flakes and mix with hot water and when it cools down to become a wibbly- wobbly dessert.)
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#9
At least for me (Southern UK English), "jam" is what you spread on bread/toast, "jelly" is the dessert, and "gelatin" is a food ingredient (which among other things is used to make jelly).
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#10
In american english, jelly and jam are both spread on toast.  The difference between jam and jelly is the former is recognizable as mostly fruit, while the latter is blended and giggly like jello/gelatin.
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#11
(2017-02-13, 1:07 am)yogert909 Wrote: In american english, jelly and jam are both spread on toast.  The difference between jam and jelly is the former is recognizable as mostly fruit, while the latter is blended and giggly like jello/gelatin.

I honestly thought they were the same (American English wise). Oh well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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#12
(2017-02-13, 1:07 am)yogert909 Wrote: In american english, jelly and jam are both spread on toast.  The difference between jam and jelly is the former is recognizable as mostly fruit, while the latter is blended and giggly like jello/gelatin.

Jelly (in the US) is made with pectin instead of gelatin to make it all jiggly. Also its not referring to a dessert food in the US, but something eaten with a meal (like on toast, but putting mint jelly on pork chops is a thing, as are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, so I'm sure there are other non-breakfast foods that you'd eat it with).

As you said though, 'jam' is used for preserves made with whole fruit that's been cut up and cooked down. Jelly is just juice mixed with pectin and sugar.
Actually, jam is really easy to make, once you get the hang of canning, and homemade always tastes better IMO.

Source:
My family used to preserve a lot of strawberries (also, the Internet helped me remember), because you can only get good ones when they're in season locally... by the way, if you cut up fresh strawberries, mix them with sugar, and let them sit in the fridge for a night or so, you'll end up with a lovely ice cream topping; I like mixing it into vanilla ice cream to make strawberry ice cream, but I imagine it'd be even better if you were to make your own ice cream with it as an ingredient from the start.
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#13
Btw, which paper monolingual dictionary do you suggest? Also, how do they work? Are the words ordered according to the readings?
Edited: 2017-02-13, 3:51 am
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#14
(2017-02-13, 3:50 am)Meriden Wrote: Btw, which paper monolingual dictionary do you suggest? Also, how do they work? Are the words ordered according to the readings?

Do you live in Japan? If not I suggest these two available off of Amazon. 例解新国語辞典 第九版 and 三省堂国語辞典 第七版 小型版. You can get cheaper monolingual dicts off of amazon, but these are aimed at middle-schoolers which is a good medium for learners. I have a Sanshodo middle-schooler's dictionary at work, where I can't access the internet. The words are ordered in Kana. There are 30 pages in the back where the kanji are ordered by stroke order. Each kanji there has the appropriate pronunciations to help search down the word you're reading. Yeah, it can take time to look up a word if you're really in the dark about it.

If you're in Japan, just go to any BookOff and get one that looks easy and fun and cheap. 

Also, I can't stress this enough: the power of the internet is like having 100 monolingual dictionaries in one. I only recommend buying one of these if you're in a situation like mine where you can't access the internet for over half a day.
Edited: 2017-02-13, 6:38 am
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#15
I've never agreed with the idea that monolingual dictionaries are perfect for situations like this and J->E/E->J are always bad. Too often people are using EDICT (jisho.org, etc.) for their comparison. EDICT is possibly the worst E->J dictionary available. It gives little to no indication of how to use the words or which ones are common, obsolete, or not used. But most E->J dictionaries you can get are far superior -- in many cases they give better indication of how words are used than monolingual dictionaries do. Of course it depends on which monolingual dictionaries you have, but the common large ones (Koujien, Daijirin) often give no hint of which words would be appropriate to use in normal speech.
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#16
(2017-02-14, 10:53 am)yudantaiteki Wrote: I've never agreed with the idea that monolingual dictionaries are perfect for situations like this and J->E/E->J are always bad. Too often people are using EDICT (jisho.org, etc.) for their comparison. EDICT is possibly the worst E->J dictionary available. It gives little to no indication of how to use the words or which ones are common, obsolete, or not used. But most E->J dictionaries you can get are far superior -- in many cases they give better indication of how words are used than monolingual dictionaries do. Of course it depends on which monolingual dictionaries you have, but the common large ones (Koujien, Daijirin) often give no hint of which words would be appropriate to use in normal speech.

I'm a jisho.org user. I love it because of rikaikun and I can easily look up words for free where ever I am (e.g. on my computer or phone).

However you are completely right about "little to no indication of ... which words are common, obsolete, or not used." That's come up before.

What do you suggest I use instead? I'm not at a level where a J-J dictionary is practical.
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#17
If you can't really use a J-J dictionary you can plug words into google translate and it'll give you a list of possibilities. That should be enough to tell you if the J-E dictionary is radically misleading. You can also use google images for physical things but you might get nasty results, especially if you use google.com instead of google.co.jp (i.e. the chinese word with the same characters might be obscene sometimes; image results for said chinese word will show up on google.com but not google.co.jp)

Something else you can do is acquire a frequency list (there are several) and see if the word is in the top 10k. If it's not, you should dig deeper into whether it's common, and if you're got bigger fish to fry you might also just put the word on your backburner.
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#18
(2017-02-14, 11:51 am)ariariari Wrote: What do you suggest I use instead? I'm not at a level where a J-J dictionary is practical.

http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/
http://dic.yahoo.co.jp/

Both will search the Shogakukan Progressive so it doesn't matter for now which site you use aside from interface preferences. Of course you want to select the 和英 results, not the 国語 results or the その他 results. OTOH, if a word doesn't have 和英 results it just might be worth giving 国語 a try. (I still prefer 和英、 but I'll read the 国語 entries if there is no 和英 or if the 和英 is somehow unclear or unsatisfying.)

weblio is good to fall back on if the 和英 entry has no example sentences and you want one. Just googling is useful for very specialized terms; all kinds of useful results can pop up -- images (for specific items ... foods, clothes, flowers, etc., that don't exist in English because we just don't have them in the west), wikipedia (if you're up to reading Japanese wiki), and chiebukuro (for terms that need more explanation than a short definition can really give).

Also, while I do agree that EDICT (= jisho.org, wwwjdic, etc.) has flaws, I think you're being a little harsh on it. It does in fact have tags for common/antiquated/okinawan etc. Sometimes I feel like the common tag is a little too liberal and kind of useless when 5 different pronunciations of the same compound are all 'common' with the same meaning... but still, there is guidance. If your EDICT app or site doesn't expand those tags into words it may be worth memorizing the tags.

90% of my dictionary lookups are on my EDICT app on my phone actually. I always keep an EDICT app (currently dokugakusha ( 読学者)) which hold the EDICT database locally. This way I don't have to wait for an internet lookup. In many, many cases all I really want is the pronunciation and a confirmation that my understanding of the meaning from kanji+context is correct (or to pin down which of two guesses it actually is). In these cases I really don't need any more in-depth dictionary.
Edited: 2017-02-14, 12:36 pm
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#19
(2017-02-14, 12:27 pm)SomeCallMeChris Wrote: 90% of my dictionary lookups are on my EDICT app on my phone actually. I always keep an EDICT app (currently dokugakusha ( 読学者)) which hold the EDICT database locally. This way I don't have to wait for an internet lookup. In many, many cases all I really want is the pronunciation and a confirmation that my understanding of the meaning from kanji+context is correct (or to pin down which of two guesses it actually is). In these cases I really don't need any more in-depth dictionary.
Something I've been wondering is if I install one of these dictionaries on my iPhone will it's results show up if I highlight a word and choose "Look-up"? This would be very helpful if it did.
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#20
(2017-02-14, 10:53 am)yudantaiteki Wrote: I've never agreed with the idea that monolingual dictionaries are perfect for situations like this and J->E/E->J are always bad. Too often people are using EDICT (jisho.org, etc.) for their comparison. EDICT is possibly the worst E->J dictionary available. It gives little to no indication of how to use the words or which ones are common, obsolete, or not used. But most E->J dictionaries you can get are far superior -- in many cases they give better indication of how words are used than monolingual dictionaries do. Of course it depends on which monolingual dictionaries you have, but the common large ones (Koujien, Daijirin) often give no hint of which words would be appropriate to use in normal speech.

I agree that the large J-J dictionaries are kind of a pain to use, often definitions are not very clear and many of the examples cited tend to be rare usages from literature. But saying that all monolingual dictionaries should be judged by that standard is like saying that no one should use the OED because you have to use a magnifying glass and half the examples come from Chaucer and Shakespeare - or worse, that everyone should use the OED and nothing else. Sometimes Merriam-Webster is a whole lot quicker. Or even dictionary.com.

Someone in this thread already linked to goo, I think their kokugo dictionary is ideal. I'm by no means fluent, but their definitions are generally simple and straightforward and give examples from practical, everyday use.

My favorite J-E dictionary is the 5th ed Green Goddess (Shinwaei-daijiten). Nice article here on how helpful it can be when you need fine shades of meaning:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2015/09...KNV4hIrKHo

But I recently got hold of digital versions of both the Goddess (J-E) and the Daijirin (J-J), and I have found that there are many, many cases where the J-E doesn't have the word I am looking for, or the Daijirin has a much fuller explanation of its nuances of meaning. Sometimes you have to check multiple dictionaries before you find the explanation or the example sentence that helps the most.
Edited: 2017-02-14, 2:40 pm
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#21
Right, monolingual dictionaries are a useful tool that everyone should learn to use.

I just disagree with the idea or implication that J->E dictionaries are a kind of crutch that should be abandoned as early as possible for monolingual.
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#22
(2017-02-14, 1:45 pm)yogert909 Wrote:
(2017-02-14, 12:27 pm)SomeCallMeChris Wrote: 90% of my dictionary lookups are on my EDICT app on my phone actually. I always keep an EDICT app (currently dokugakusha ( 読学者)) which hold the EDICT database locally. This way I don't have to wait for an internet lookup. In many, many cases all I really want is the pronunciation and a confirmation that my understanding of the meaning from kanji+context is correct (or to pin down which of two guesses it actually is). In these cases I really don't need any more in-depth dictionary.
Something I've been wondering is if I install one of these dictionaries on my iPhone will it's results show up if I highlight a word and choose "Look-up"?  This would be very helpful if it did.

No, none of the 'dictionary apps' I've installed do that. OTOH, when I had an iPhone I had a Japanese dictionary installed... it was a free add-on from somewhere in the options pages. I'm pretty sure it was J-J, but it was still pretty serviceable. If nothing else it gave you at least *a* correct reading so that you could at least easily type the word into another location if you couldn't understand the definition.

My phone was in Japanese but I don't think it had to be to install the dictionary (I also had an English dictionary installed, I'm pretty sure.)   I'm not sure if you can purchase additional 'dictionaries' to install, but if you can that's a different thing from installing an 'app'.
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#23
Seems like there's a lot to learn even after the core10k Big Grin .
Even so, I think that it's better to finish the core 10k and maybe kanzen master n2 before venturing into monolingual dictionaries and advanced vocabulary. Don't really know if it's the best choice, but I think that at this stage, avoiding study overload is more appropriate.
Edited: 2017-02-15, 4:53 am
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#24
My usual order of dictionary lookup tends to go GG5 / Meikyo / Daijisen, and I don't usually bother to check the JJ dictionaries unless the word isn't in GG or it's one of those words which seems to map to several distinct English words, in which case the monolingual definition often defines the underlying common concept more clearly. Meikyo is a smaller dictionary than Daijisen but its definitions seem to me to be clearer.

(For EE I do go for the OED first, but as a UK library user I have free access to its online version and if I'm looking up an English word it's usually because I wanted the etymology or the first citation from 1537...)
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#25
(2017-02-15, 1:00 am)SomeCallMeChris Wrote: No, none of the 'dictionary apps' I've installed do that. OTOH, when I had an iPhone I had a Japanese dictionary installed... it was a free add-on from somewhere in the options pages. I'm pretty sure it was J-J, but it was still pretty serviceable. If nothing else it gave you at least *a* correct reading so that you could at least easily type the word into another location if you couldn't understand the definition.

My phone was in Japanese but I don't think it had to be to install the dictionary (I also had an English dictionary installed, I'm pretty sure.)   I'm not sure if you can purchase additional 'dictionaries' to install, but if you can that's a different thing from installing an 'app'.
Thanks. I suspected as much. I've got those dictionaries installed, but it's striking how many words aren't in them. Especially the J-E dictionary. Maybe it's because it doesn't have some of the extremely common words that I'm looking up sometimes. I've done a little searching and it seems there's no way to add dictionaries that aren't in the list.

Another option I guess is there are some reader apps with built in dictionaries. Maybe I'll give a few of them a try now that I think of it.
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