Kenkyūsha's New Japanese-English Dictionary
Since its first publication in 1918, Kenkyūsha's New Japanese-English Dictionary (新和英大辞典 Shin wa-ei daijiten?) has been the largest and most authoritative Japanese-English dictionary ever published. Translators, scholars, and specialists who use the Japanese language affectionately refer to this dictionary as the "Green Goddess" or ("GG") because of its distinctive dark-green cover.
The fifth edition of Kenkyūsha's New Japanese–English Dictionary, published in 2003 (colloquially "GG5"), is a volume with almost 3000 pages, and contains about 480,000 entries (including 130,000 Japanese headwords, 100,000 compound words, and 250,000 example phrases and sentences), nearly all of which are accompanied by English translations. The editors in chief of the fifth edition are Watanabe Toshiro, Edmund R. Skrzypczak, and Paul Snowden.
Besides the print edition, the dictionary is also available on CD-ROM (EPWING format), online, in electronic dictionary and iPhone versions. Electronic dictionaries that contain the fifth edition are generally flagship models (top models), and include the Canon Wordtank G70, the Seiko SR-E10000 (first electronic dictionary with GG) and SR-G10000, and the Casio "University Student" series (XD-D9800 in 2012)[note 1] and "Professional" series (XD-D10000 in 2012).[note 2]
There is also a companion English-Japanese dictionary, currently in its 6th edition, which contains 260,000 headwords.
In 1918, the publication of the first edition of the Kenkyūsha's New Japanese–English Dictionary, the Takenobu's Japanese–English Dictionary (武信和英大辞典 Takenobu wa-ei daijiten?), named after the editor-in-chief, Takenobu Yoshitarō (武信 由太郎?), was a landmark event in the field of lexicography in Japan. Completed in under five years with the assistance and support of leading scholars in the field, and published when Kenkyūsha (研究社?) was still a minor academic publishing company, the Takenobu, as the most authoritative Japanese–English dictionary of the time, cemented Kenkyūsha's reputation in the field of academic publishing.
In 1931, Kenkyūsha undertook a major revision in the dictionary by expanding upon former entries and adding newer ones. The British diplomat George Sansom, who later became a renowned historian of Japan, was a major contributor and editor of this edition. Aside from the ever-evolving nature of the Japanese and English languages, competition from two other major dictionaries released in the 1920s, Takehara's Japanese–English Dictionary and Saitō's Japanese–English Dictionary, both of which were larger than the first edition of Kenkyūsha's, was probably a major driving force behind these revisions (it is important to note that new editions of these dictionaries were never released, thus allowing Kenkyūsha's to assert and maintain its dominance among Japanese–English dictionaries). From this second edition onward, the dictionary became known as the Kenkyūsha's New Japanese–English Dictionary. During World War II, reputable institutions in the United States and Great Britain, including Harvard University's Department of Far Eastern Languages, produced pirated versions of this dictionary for the war effort.
Because of the Pacific War, Kenkyūsha did not revise the dictionary for almost twenty years until 1949, when it decided to revise the dictionary to incorporate all of the new English-language words due to the social and cultural influence of the American occupation of Japan. After five years of revision, Kenkyūsha published its third edition in 1954. Beginning with this edition and continuing until the 1974 fourth edition, the editors attempted to make the dictionary into a more scholarly work by pulling English language expressions from English texts, particularly from literature; this, however, resulted in clumsy, artificial-sounding Japanese and English. The editors abandoned this practice for the fifth edition, which has entries that sound more natural to both native-Japanese and native-English speakers.
- 1st Edition, 1918
- 2nd Edition, 1931
- 3rd Edition, 1954
- 4th Edition, 1974
- 5th Edition, 2003
Compared to the 1974 fourth edition, the fifth edition represents a dramatic increase in the number of definitions (from roughly 290,000 terms to 480,000 terms). Furthermore, the organization of the words has changed from an alphabetical romaji-style system (「ローマ字見出し」方式) to the kana-based system (「かな見出し」方式) that is commonly used in most Japanese dictionaries and encyclopedias. This change reflects the fact that most users of the dictionary are native speakers of Japanese, who are more comfortable with the kana-based lookup system.
Other new features are:
- Larger numbers of katakana words and onomatopoeia words (i.e. ペラペラ、ニコニコ)
- More colloquial slang and pop culture words (an interesting definition: 「オブラデ・オブラダ」 「曲名」Ob-LA-Di Ob-La-Da)
- More specialized scientific and technological words (especially related to the recent Internet boom)
- More names of famous people, places, works of art, works of literature, etc.
- English translations that are more up-to-date and idiomatic, reflecting the greater participation of native English-speaking editors in the editorial process than for previous editions
The definitions themselves are also more expansive and detailed, as they often now include sample sentences.
- For example, under the definition for オフ・シーズン (off-season), a katakana word borrowed from English:
- オフ・シーズンにはそのホテルはぐっと安くなる。 The off-season rates are much lower at that hotel.
Furthermore, there are also accompanying pictures and diagrams for words such as 馬 (horse) and サッカー (soccer).
At the end of the dictionary, there are some useful resources such as the entire Japanese Constitution; a chronological list of dates in Japanese history dating all the way back to the stone age; a chronological list of dates in world history dating all the way back to the early civilizations that developed in Mesopotamia, the Nile valley, the Indus valley, and the Yellow River valley; charts on the proper formats of notices, envelopes, application letters, resumes, etc.; a section on email lingo and abbreviations; a section on the proper format of business cards; a section the proper format of help-wanted ads; a section on Japanese government titles; a section on American government titles; a chart on pronouncing Japanese kanji in Chinese; charts on the hierarchical organization of the Self-Defense Forces, the old Japanese military, the American military, and the English military; a chart on the names of all the countries in the world (along with currencies and measurement systems); and finally, a conversion chart between U.S. systems of measurement and the metric system.
The online version of the dictionary, available for a fee, is being updated on a monthly basis with new words and expanded entries.
- Casio model numbers change every year; models in the same "University Student" line, which contained the Kenkyūsha, are XD-GP9600 (2007), XD-GP9700 (2008), XD-GF9800 (2009), XD-A9800 (2010), XD-B9800 (2011), and XD-D9800 (2012).
- Casio model numbers change every year; models in the same "Professional" line, which contained the Kenkyūsha, are XD-GF10000 (2009), XD-A10000 (2010), XD-B10000 (2011), and XD-D100000.
- Canon Wordtank G70 Review (with SR-E10000 comparison), Dec 17th, 2005
- Casio releases 2010 line of Japanese Dictionaries, Jan 19th, 2010
- Gally, Tom (21 February 2004). "Lexical Leavings 128". Lexical Leavings. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- Koh Masuda, editor, Kenkyūsha's New Japanese–English Dictionary, fifth edition (Tokyo: Kenkyūsha, 2003). ISBN 4-7674-2016-4.
- Koh Masuda, editor, Kenkyūsha's New Japanese–English Dictionary, fourth edition (Tokyo: Kenkyūsha, 1974).
- Online version
- Kenkyusha website
- Lexical Leavings: Random Notes of a Freelance Lexicographer – the website of Tom Gally, a contributor to the dictionary