Deciphering Sino-Japanese Characters Written in Script

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Deciphering Sino-Japanese Characters Written in Script

Post by IG Team » Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:14 pm

Auberginefleur

Since it seems a few members are studying Japanese, and also interested in deciphering characters in script form, I thought I would post some references, inspired by the thread
Mystery Obi - Can Anyone Read Soushou?

1) Kuzushi kaidoku jiten くずし 解読字典 published by 柏書房
ISBN 4-7601-0044-X 4,369 yen

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This is the Sino-Japanese character dictionary that Japanese professionals use to read writing on old manuscripts and inscriptions on paintings. In the center of the book is an explanation of how to use it; the explanation starts on p. 466, and the first example of how to look up a character using the book’s method is on p. 467.

2) Kobunsho handoku jiten 古文書 判読字典 published by 柏書房
ISBN 4-7601-0384-8 2524 yen

This book is by the same publisher as above, and it should have the same pretty colorful Japanese-paper design, but I couldn’t find an image online. This is basically a dictionary of various hand-written forms of the Sino-Japanese characters; it also has a chart at back of hentai-gana (old-style hiragana) examples, illustrated with the Sino-Japanese characters they developed from, starting on p. 328. This might be the easiest of these dictionaries to use at first.

3) Gotai jirui 五体字類 authored by 高田 and 竹山
ISBN 4-88098-001-3 3,500 yen

This is a dictionary of the five basic different scripts of Chinese characters. (Who knew? Nobody ever tells you there are more than four forms of scripts!) What is really cool about it, and a well kept secret, is that for each character, it has copies of that character done by famous calligraphers like Wang Wang Xizhi, Su Shi, ect. So cool! This is the dictionary I started with for reading ancient writing, (I don’t think the two books above were published yet), it is a lot of fun, and fairly easy to use. It is a dark blue indigo book, and like the above two comes in its own cardboard Japanese-style box-cum-cover.

4) Kaki-kata jiten 書き方字典
ISBN 978-4-88986-220-1 600 yen
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This is a penmanship dictionary (the cover is actually lavender), for those who want to learn how to write characters. For each character, it shows the proper stroke order, gives the kunyomi (native Japanese) and on’yomi (Sino-Japanese pronunciations), examples of three forms of script (regular, running, grass), and fountain-pen script. It also has for each character a few examples of jukugō (character compound words). Because of common examples given of the different character scripts, it makes a good easy reference for deciphering written characters. Personally, I think this book should be used as a textbook for teaching Japanese, and would recommend it for those who seriously intend to continue their study of Japanese.

All these dictionaries are for native Japanese speakers, and require some prior knowledge of Japanese to be able to use them. If you are studying the Japanese language, I recommend you invest in an electric dictionary, and one that has Japanese-English (preferably Kenkyusha), English-Japanese, a Sino-Japanese character dictionary, the Kojien dictionary, and at least one other Japanese encyclopedia like “MyPedia.” (Some also have a classical language dictionary, called a Kogo jiten.) Also make sure the dictionary has a “jump” function, so when you are reading a Japanese definition and don’t know a word, you can “jump” to the J-E dictionary, read the definition in English, and then “jump” back.

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Re: Deciphering Sino-Japanese Characters Written in Script

Post by IG Team » Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:15 pm

James

Argh! Thank you!

I have what seems to be an older edition of this book, 漢字書体字典 (kanji shotai jiten, or dictionary of calligraphic styles) http://www.amazon.co.jp/漢字書体字典―書体字典-漢字篇 ... -2-catcorr. It's an excellent book for calligraphic (as opposed to normal hand-written) kanji. For each character it gives the basic printed style (with readings) and examples of how it has been written by famous calligraphers. I also have some pen-ji jiten books (which show kanji written in 3 styles in pen instead of with a brush), but had never been able to find anything combining hentai gana and kuzushi.

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Re: Deciphering Sino-Japanese Characters Written in Script

Post by IG Team » Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:15 pm

togei

Hello,
I didn't know about Hentai gana, thank you. Here is a link in Japanese to the wiki on Hentai gana, http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%A4%89% ... E%E5%90%8D

Here is the Kuzushi dictionary I use.
ISBN 978-4-490-10333-5
It is about 5,800 yen. I live in Japan and bought it here so don't know how available it is outside of Japan.
Dave

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Re: Deciphering Sino-Japanese Characters Written in Script

Post by IG Team » Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:15 pm

Auberginefleur

Most Kuzushi-ji dictionaries will have an index on kana in the back, showing the forms of hentai-gana, and if you are really lucky, it may have an index on katakana forms as well.

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