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Japanese/English Translator

 
 
GJ
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      10-24-2005
My daughter is looking at buying a decent translator as she is studying
Japanese at present (form 5). I was wondering whether buying a 2nd hand
PDA and some software would be better in the long run. Does anyone have
experience with this?

I have found these guys (http://www.ectaco.com) but am unsure of prices
in NZ.

I thought a PDA would be more flexible but am unsure of the
functionality and overall cost.

Ta very muchly.


GJ
 
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Impossible
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      10-24-2005
"GJ" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message news:435cc176$(E-Mail Removed)...
> My daughter is looking at buying a decent translator as she is
> studying Japanese at present (form 5). I was wondering whether
> buying a 2nd hand PDA and some software would be better in the long
> run. Does anyone have experience with this?
>
> I have found these guys (http://www.ectaco.com) but am unsure of
> prices in NZ.
>
> I thought a PDA would be more flexible but am unsure of the
> functionality and overall cost.
>
> Ta very muchly.


Electronic language-learning tools can be helpful. But from my own
experience learning two non-English languages, I would say that the
simpler tools are the better ones. By simpler I mean those that
provide a handy reference source for vocabulary and grammar --
dictionaries, basically. "Translators" are a mixed bag, ranging from
the very, very expensive machine-translation types (like Systran)
that can do a reasonable job of translating whole documents of any
length, to the cheaper phrase-book types that aren't really any
improvement over their paperback cousins. The problem here is that
when someone is starting out to learn a language, translators of any
sort are generally much less helpful than people imagine. I suppose
they could marginally improve grades on specific assignments, but in
the end you still have to do the hard work of memorising syntax and
structure and applying it to the construction of real sentences.

With commonly used languages such as Japanese, electronic dictionaries
are most likely available for free from online sources, so have a look
around. Some sites also offer a downloadable version that can be
dropped on a pc for a small price, typically less than US$30. Getting
something that can be loaded onto a PDA will likely cost you much
more, however. Be advised here also, however, that not all
dictionaries are created equal. Again, for someone trying to learn a
language for the first time, what you'll mainly be interested in is
whether the dictionary gives you essential grammatical information --
part of speech, gender, pluralization, and so on -- and whether the
definitions it provides are put in some context by providing a variety
of examples. Anything less and it's handiness (or cool-factor) will
rapidly fade. The best dictionaries, IMHO, are still the printed kind,
and an investment in one of those (I'd try to get a recommendation
from the school) is apt to be more practical over the long run.

Your experience -- and that of your daughter -- may vary, of course.
What I would strongly recommend in any case, however, is that before
you buy anything electronic that you try to get your hands on a trial
version first and see how it goes.


 
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Waylon Kenning
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      10-26-2005
T'was the Tue, 25 Oct 2005 00:11:48 +1300 when I remembered GJ
<(E-Mail Removed)> saying something like this:

>I thought a PDA would be more flexible but am unsure of the
>functionality and overall cost.


I think a PDA in terms of translation would be overkill compared to
what is needed, i.e. a basic translator. However it terms of
usefulness, a PDA compares with a laptop for taking notes (using a
fold up keyboard), is good for voice memos, can play MP3s and video,
and is just a useful device all round. However, being 5th form, the
other students may not recognize a PDA for the useful tool that it is
and give your daughter a bit of a hard time for having one.

Just my 2 cents. I have an HP Ipaq H5450, bought second hand off
TradeMe for $600, including CF sleeve and 1.3MP CF camera. These PDAs
are quite good value.
--
Cheers,

Waylon Kenning.
 
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