Writings > Lexical Leavings


Yesterday, at a used bookstore in Jimbocho, Tokyo, I bought a copy of Takenobu's Japanese-English Dictionary (武信和英大辞典), the first in Kenkyusha's influential series of Japanese-English dictionaries. The editor seems to have known that his dictionary would last, as in the introduction, dated July 1918, he wrote the following:
[U]nlike the English-Japanese dictionary, anything like completion, still less perfection, is almost unthinkable for the Japanese-English dictionary, so that it is only by the painstaking efforts of successive compilers that the work can be pushed on toward the goal of perfection. If this humble publication serves to advance that great aim even one step further, then its appearance, with all its faults, may, I think, be justified.
The fifth edition of this dictionary is due out this year, eighty-five years after the first.

(April 11, 2003)