How to use Free Software to learn Japanese, and more.

Understanding monolingual definitions

January 06, 2022 — Tatsumoto

A typical entry in a monolingual dictionary looks similar to this:

あした [3] 【明日・朝】 (名)
(1)今日の次の日。
(2)夜が終わって,明るくなった時。あさ。

Every dictionary usually has its own, unique system of notation. On this page I primarily use 大辞泉 as an example. If you need help finding monolingual dictionaries, see the Dictionaries resources section.

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Setting up Qolibri

September 29, 2021 — Tatsumoto

Qolibri is a Qt-based dictionary viewer. It lets you search multiple dictionaries at one time so for every word you look up you immediately get multiple definitions. Qolibri remains one of the most widely used Japanese dictionary viewers for GNU/Linux.

By itself, Qolibri is just a viewer. To utilize it, you need dictionary files. The dictionary files Qolibri reads are called EPWINGs. EPWING (electronic publishing WING) is a dictionary format that was allegedly utilized in portable electronic dictionaries.

Qolibri is much better than Yomichan at searching a big number of dictionaries at the same time. If you try to use more than 5 dictionaries with Yomichan, it quickly becomes very cluttered and hard to navigate. Qolibri lists all dictionaries you have on a sidebar. It is easy to jump between them if you need to.

If you haven't started using Japanese to Japanese dictionaries yet, feel free to skip this article for now. Though Japanese to English dictionaries for Qolibri exist, their number is not very large. The main reason you want to use the program is to browse monolingual dictionaries.

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Setting up Yomichan

April 24, 2021 — Tatsumoto

Yomichan is a browser extension with a pop-up dictionary that allows you to look up unknown words with the hover of a mouse. On top of that Yomichan can be set up to create Anki cards from the words which you look up.

The process of picking sentences from your immersion and making Anki cards is called sentence-mining or sentence-picking. Each mined sentence has to contain one unknown piece of information, which is referred to as target word.

You don't necessarily have to pick an entire sentence, but if you're a TSC user it is not necessary to keep mined items short. When you're out in the wild picking sentences, select the ones that are interesting to you. Your goal is not to mine every word.

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Yomichan and EPWING dictionaries

December 13, 2020 — Tatsumoto

Yomichan is a web browser extension with a pop-up dictionary that allows you to look up unknown words with the hover of a mouse.

EPWING is a dictionary format that was allegedly utilized in portable electronic dictionaries. To view EPWINGs you need qolibri, a dictionary viewer that lets you search multiple EPWING files at one time so for every word you look up you immediately get multiple definitions.

To actually use the software and look up words you need to get dictionary files. A few basic Japanese to English dictionaries are available on the Yomichan webpage, but most dictionaries you need to acquire yourself. Below is a list of links where you can find dictionaries for qolibri and Yomichan.

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