Preview: Japanese Radical Tutor

About something I’m writing to write and learn Japanese.

Ages ago I posted some tools to look up kanji compounds.

The concept was that – given few radicals:
1. Looking up 1 kanji gives a great number of possibilities.
2. Looking up a compound gives only a few hits.

I haven’t done anything with this for a long while. But the other day I had an idea to implement it in a simple menu with dmenu.

After it was done, I was very disappointed in it. It works. But it’s not very usable.

I will post it here anyway.
A script that downloads the dictionaries:

http://paste.pocoo.org/show/6PRCfs19Q1bX5f6SdML4/

Main script:

http://paste.pocoo.org/show/WAbqQ7wDtTgw7BY8pxiS/

The menu/radical database:

http://paste.pocoo.org/show/TbPoMK4q4R8WC8skwy9e/

I got the radicals from those used in edict2, and got the pronunciations from mahou.org. It is slightly ordered by “things that split in the bottom” and “boxes” . I also added stuff in capitals like English meanings or alternative readings or when it even just looks like something I know well – sometimes with NOT before it, sometimes not, I didn’t even look up half of it. Because you can type anything in dmenu and the list will pop up, any added information is good.
So anyway it’s a really idiosyncratic list, be sure to edit it yourself in what the radicals remind you of.

Usage: You store “sets” – regexes like [kanjikanji] – in a text file. Each time you call the program you can reduce the latest [kanjikanji] set with a new radical/description/ON-KUN reading. Finally you get a compound/multiple sets – or just 1 set like
“[kanji1kanji2kanji3][kanji4kanji5kanji6]”
Which you can look up in edict2 and e.g. get the only valid compound:
kanji2kanji5, and copy it to your clipboard.

So… it’s VERY hard to use!

The first thought I had was: Let’s make it in python curses. Add some things like what jisho.org does in their radical select. Try it out:

http://jisho.org/kanji/radicals/

And add some general IME things like being able to type and get immediate kana.

Of course the more UI that goes in it the less I want to do it. But I had another idea that makes me more excited and that was to download the edict2 “examples” dictionary:
1. Pick a random sentence
2. Present it to the user
3. Make him type it!
4. If he doesn’t know how to type a kanji/compound, show him the radicals (of course if he knows the ON/KUN reading or English meaning, that can be used to type the kanji)
5. Then he will learn well what radicals are in each kanji and how to “name” them. (maybe he will be asked what to name each radical as it comes up, with ON & KUN reading already in, as well as maybe my own interpretations of it and Kanji Damage ( http://kanjidamage.com ) interpretation — although those do not line up well with edict2.)

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