Points of Correspondence
There are some obvious and other less obvious points of correspondence in bilingual dictionaries, and in this paper I would like to consider first one of the less obvious points and later some of the more obvious points of correspondence in the light of one recently published Japanese-English dictionary, The Kenkyūsha Japanese-English Learner’s Dictionary.
The Waei/nichiei Dichotomy
The Japanese title of this work is Kenkyūsha Nichiei Jiten and I am often asked by Japanese what nichiei means when the conversation includes a question about my recent activities. There seems to be quite a bit of confusion by non-Japanese as well as to what nichiei is supposed to mean, or at least a question as to why nichiei was chosen and not waei.
In English, there are basically two combinations to describe a bilingual dictionary that covers the English and Japanese languages—that is, the “Japanese-English” dictionary and the “English-Japanese” dictionary. However, in Japanese there are in use two different phrases to handle the same phenomenon: waei and nichiei, and of course, their opposites, eiwa and einichi. These phrases are used not only to describe dictionaries—indeed, there is another talk at this conference which uses the combination nichiei. Nichiei could perhaps be considered just a synonym for waei, and indeed in many people’s minds it seems to be.
The expression nichiei also seems to be quite recent. In my twenty-eight years of learning Japanese, I don’t recall coming across the combinations nichiei and einichi until very recently, with one exception that I will note later. However, there are some very good lexicographical reasons for considering these two phrases as representing totally different concepts, and although some wags may suggest all sorts of sociological or political theories to account for such differentiation, I would like to show in this paper that a very complicated historical background and a rapidly changing present can account for much of the confusion and distinction.
My answer to the above question about what nichiei means is: “It’s a ‘waei jiten’ for foreigners”, and this answer seems to satisfy questioners, but it begs the original question of why the distinction exists in the first place. The editors of the dictionary seem to have been aware that the title they chose was going to cause problems. Entries within the dictionary define both waei (and its inverse eiwa) and nichiei (and its inverse einichi) as dictionaries for Japanese and for foreigners, respectively.
In a 1989 article, Nakao Keisuke discusses the history and issues of English-Japanese dictionaries, and although he makes it clear that he is discussing bilingual and especially English-Japanese dictionaries for Japanese, he does mention in two separate throw-away comments, as though it were a matter of well-known fact, that bilingual dictionaries for non-Japanese are known as nichiei and einichi.
In his chapter on the history of and issues relating to Japanese-English dictionaries for Japanese from the book Sekai no Jisho, Kojima Yoshirō gives a little more space to the waei-nichiei issue and expands on the issue of directionality which Nakao had only noted in passing.
Before continuing with my brief history of the name issue, let me interject with a mention of the one exception I mentioned before of a dictionary title that included nichiei. This is the Japanese-English Buddhist Dictionary (Nichiei Bukkyō Jiten), put out by Daitō Shuppansha. I do remember at the time thinking what a funny name for a dictionary—why didn’t they use waei—but I put it down to simply the Japanese Buddhist inclination to use the non-familiar over the familiar in the limited way I understood it in my student days. The dictionary is, however, a good example of a nichiei dictionary as understood by Nakao and Kojima.
With nichiei we seem to have a term that has been defined by a part of academia but which has not seemed to have penetrated the consciousness of the general user/reader. That is not unusual in this day and age of fragmented and ever-increasing academic fields, but first let’s look over the historical record of the usage of nichi and wa.
The name by which the Japanese since early times referred to their own country was Yamato (I will leave aside the logographic issues of this name), but except for poetry, this name has not survived. Rather, the name wa (倭) that the Chinese used to indicate the people who lived on the Japanese archipelago was picked up. However, the logograph that the Chinese chose to represent the sound that came out in Japanese as wa was not very flattering. Not surprisingly, the Chinese usually picked unflattering- meaning logographs to represent the peoples around borders. Although the Japanese used it for a while, after they became familiar with its significance and grew used to manipulating the Chinese language, they managed to convince the Chinese to refer to their country in logographic terms as (I will leave aside here the phonological issues), because “the country was close to where the sun rises “(Miller 1967)”. This is the name, with both its Japanese pronunciations, Nihon and Nippon, that has been used since.
Interestingly, however, about the same time that Nihon was becoming entrenched, the Japanese made another change. They also started to write, and managed to convince the Chinese to use the logograph (和) instead of (倭) to refer to Japan. Ever since, along with the many different expressions for “Japan” that have remained in poetry and literature, there have remained these two main expressions for Japan, Wa and Nihon. Why these should both appear within two or three hundred years of each other is still not clear.
Wa is a bound form that is used in compounds to refer to “Japan-” or “Japanese,” as in waei or washi. Nihon, however, is a free form from which the first element, which is pronounced nichi, is also used in bound form to indicate “Japan-” or “Japanese,” such as Nichibei and Nikkeijin. Michael Carr (1992) discusses the lexicographical history of both forms of wa, especially in terms of racial epithets, and makes a brief mention of the appearance of Nihon and Nichi- as well, but still provides no clues as to why the two should have appeared together.
There seems to be a clear differentiation in the usage of these two names. Although nichi is used, for the most part, in combination with other countries’ names—Nichigo, Nichi in, and Nichika, to name a few—wa is used in combinations that refer to objects and concepts: wabun, wafuku, washoku, washi, wagaku, and waka. The list is pretty large. What seems certain, though, is that except for the word Nikkeijin, mentioned above, almost all of the compounds used with nichi- are logographs for the abbreviations of other nations. Wa- on the other hand, is used with what we shall conveniently label as “everything else.” In this respect, the traditional usage of waei and eiwa for the respective bilingual dictionaries seems outside the normal idiomatic boundaries.
We won’t get much further pursuing this line of questioning. The lexicographical examples involving wa and nichi are there for us to examine. I doubt if a more thorough investigation and analysis of the logographic/semantic spread of these two elements will yield much more of a conclusion than that which I tentatively gave above. Let’s shift our focus and look at the nomenclature issue from the viewpoint of the history of Westem-Japanese lexicography.
Brief History of Japanese/English Lexicography
The first important lexicographical work between a Western language and Japanese involved Portuguese. The name on the title page of this work published in Nagasaki in 1603 is Vocabvlario da lingoa de Iapam com adeclaracao em Portugues. Japanese scholars refer to this as the Nippo Jisho, especially since the publication of a Japanese- language translation of the dictionary under that name in 1980. The fact remains, however, that this title is after the fact and not original.
In contrast to the early efforts of the Japanese to produce an English-Japanese dictionary, the first Japanese-English dictionary was produced by a foreigner, James Curtis Hepburn, and was called A Japanese and English Dictionary with an English and Japanese Index and carried a Japanese title page: Waei Gorinshūsei. What would be a good research topic would be to investigate how this Japanese title was determined.
Hepburn states in his preface that, aside from the Japanese and Portuguese Dictionary published by the Jesuits and an 1830 Japanese-English vocabulary list published in Batavia, the only recourse he had in compiling the dictionary was to native speakers, so presumably the title was selected with help from Japanese native speakers. Was the title merely a reversal of the English-Japanese titles that had hitherto been published? Was there any thought of a nichiei dictionary instead of a waei dictionary? At this time was it simply thought natural that an English-Japanese dictionary was for Japanese and a Japanese-English dictionary for English speakers? These are pertinent questions to ask, because simply from a look at the titles selected for these works it is obvious that there is no distinction made between nichiei and waei, and that waei (and its contrasting eiwa for reverse-direction dictionaries) was the preferred choice. So where did nichiei come from?
Hepburn clearly states his intended audience in his preface (all good dictionaries should): “Nothing but the great need of such a work, felt by all foreigners in Japan, and the constant demand upon those who were making the study of the language their special business to share their acquisitions with others, could have induced him to issue it at this stage of his acquaintance with the language” (Hepburn, 1862). The dictionary is clearly intended for non-Japanese students. Interestingly, in quite a reverse of the situation nowadays in which non-Japanese students use materials originally intended for Japanese, Hepburn’s dictionary continued to be used for many years by many Japanese students of English as well.
The next waei dictionary, properly Waeidaijiten, published by Sanseidō, did not come out until 1896, and although it was jointly edited by two Japanese and one English- speaking foreigner, the dictionary was, as described by Kojima Yoshirō (Chino et al, 1992), still intended for foreigners. What Kojima considers as the basic form of the waei dictionary that is still being used today, the Shinyaku Waei Jiten, was not published until 1909 by Sanseidō. Finally Japanese-English dictionaries were brought up to the same level as the English-Japanese dictionaries. Sanseidō’s 1896 dictionary was the first Japanese-English dictionary made by Japanese for Japanese.
From here on, we see the continued development and publication of waei dictionaries, although at various periods with great lapses of time between. As with other cultural developments, World War II caused a great holdup in the continuing development of bilingual dictionaries, but the educational reforms carried out after the war created a large and growing market for bilingual dictionaries.
Japanese-English dictionaries have continued to grow larger and more accurate, but as Kojima (Chino et al, 1992) relates, the fourth edition of Kenkyūsha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary (Kenkyūsha, 1974), one of the basic reference books for Japanese-English translators today, is still based largely on Takenobu Yūtaro’s Takenobu Waei Dai jiten, published by Kenkyusha in 1918.
Let’s put this history in perspective. I think we can all agree that the combination of English and Japanese probably shares much fewer linguistic as well as cultural similarities than combinations featuring Indo-European languages. In talking about the links between translation and dictionary making, Reinhard Hartmann (1989) briefly refers to the nature and intensity of the language pairs in question and indicates that we have not yet systematically studied the historical development of these links. He cites another author to examine an Indo-European pair: “If we take the case of English and German, the link is only just 250 years old..., which in terms of the more human scale of counting in life-spans is only about 8 generations.” (Hartmann 1989, 10).
Those of us involved in Japanese/English translation have probably at times envied the tradition of exchange that has formed between German and English, if only for the solid base it provides for the decision-making process that goes on in the head of the translator during actual translation. But when we apply Hartmann’s calculations to the Japanese/English pair, we end up with a history of only 84 years (if we count from the appearance of the dictionary judged by Kojima to be the first “real” dictionary for Japanese). By Hartmann’s calculations, this would only be 2.6 generations, which in the context of English/German lexicographical/translation history, would put us now at about the year 1892.
So the physical if unconscious idea of what a waei dictionary is had started to be fixed by 1909, and was a set tradition by the time the “boom” of bilingual dictionaries started after World War II. Now that we have a more objective idea of where the waei/nichiei dichotomy came from and how it developed, if not why it developed, let’s turn our attention to the present.
I would now like to move on and analyse a few of the more obvious points of correspondence in Japanese-English dictionaries in the hope that by the time I finish I may be able to throw some more light on the ramifications of the nichiei-waei dichotomy. Since this is primarily a translation conference, I would like to borrow a framework of questions used by Hartmann (1989) to compare lexicography and translation as an analytical tool. If translation is a means-to-end act, then lexicography can be termed the means for producing a means-to-end tool. Hartmann used these questions that are based on the principles of ancient classical rhetoric and mentions (although he doesn’t say where) that they had, among other things, been adapted to the detailing of pragmatic influence in dictionary making.
Hartmann’s first question is “Who?” Who makes the dictionary? Obviously, the lexicographer, but in the case of a bilingual dictionary, we are concerned about the professional and linguistic qualifications of the compilers. For the most part in Japan, lexicographers are still only part-time, moon-lighting literature and language teachers. This is probably a good thing, because it assures that the lexicographer is not divorced from the needs of probably the most important, but not necessarily the only considerable, market of the dictionary: students.
On the other hand, the editorial staff of a bilingual dictionary should ideally have an equal number of native speakers of both languages. Unfortunately this is not the case in Japan, where the dearth of native English speakers fluent in Japanese (NESFJ) is considerable. Other probable factors preventing the more active participation of NESFJs are the amount of remuneration in comparison to other possible pursuits of the NESFJ, such as tutoring and commercial translation, and the lag time between output and remuneration.
Kenkyūsha (1974) lists a foreigner as “henshū kyōryoku” (with three other Japanese) among the editorial staff, and although one of the characteristics (number five of the seven) of this dictionary as given in the preface is the participation of native speakers in elucidating difficult points, there is only one other native speaker mentioned in the front matter in addition to the “henshū kyōryoku” native speaker.
In this regard, Kenkyusha (1992) was rather unusual in that it actively sought out NESFJ. Brannen (1991) mentions some of the problems of getting NESFJ to participate in English/Japanese lexicographical undertakings. I won’t say that these problems were eliminated in the production of Kenkyusha (1992), but they were certainly taken into consideration by all sides.
An interesting point that Hartmann brings up is the big gap separating lexicographers and translators and the need for “opening up some new channels of communication and information.” More available information is a laudable goal, but may be a bit problematic in Japan, where jobs are enterprise- and not profession-based. The sphere of what is considered proprietary information is probably a lot narrower than that in the West.
Although the lexicographer may actually “make” the dictionary, it is of course the company, the enterprise, that commissions, supervises, and carries out the project. So the “Who question” is linked to another question, number four, which we will look at later.
Hartmann’s second question is “What?” What is conveyed in the act of dictionary making? Here it would be quite unfair to blame any dictionary for its shortcomings, as the whole field of lexicography is still quite in disarray as to a practical framework for dictionary making. Here, however, might be the right place to distinguish between the decoding function—the dictionary that merely allows the user to know the appropriate words/phrases in the target language—and the encoding function—the dictionary that allows the user to accurately reproduce linguistic strings in the target language.
In the short history of English/Japanese lexicography, the decoding function has been predominant until recently. As long as education, and especially foreign-language education, was the preserve of the elite and occasions for direct dealings with non- Japanese were even further limited, dictionary publishers and users only needed the decoding function, and probably thought that was the natural format for the dictionary.
This last paragraph is, of course, referring to the Japanese, and my comments before about the history of English/Japanese lexicography being only 2.6 generations old also refer to the Japanese. In spite of the early efforts of non-Japanese—both the Jesuit fathers and J.C. Hepburn—these early non-Japanese efforts at English/Japanese lexicography were not sustained. They were merely comets that appeared brightly but temporarily and then disappeared.
When we complain about how unsuited English/Japanese lexicographical materials are for non-Japanese users, either for students or for translators, we should realise that in lexicographical history, ten years—or even being magnanimous and estimating the Japanese-language boom outside Japan at twenty years—is not long at all, a mere beginning. Another point for reflection is that most of the lexicographical efforts aimed at non-Japanese so far have been initiated by the Japanese, or at least by Japanese enterprises, often with less expectation of remuneration than they could expect from spending a similar amount of time on Japanese-only targeted projects. This should make us pause when we complain about a lack of Japanese effort in the cultural sphere and emphasise the point made ad nauseam about the Japanese being “economic animals”.
This approach to the “What” question naturally leads into the third question, “For Whom?” Kenkyūsha (1974) is basically a decoding dictionary. This is not the place to go into the reasons for asking about the necessity of producing a decoding-only Japanese-English dictionary for Japanese speakers (we have asked the question before and leave the point to other places), but I think that for the purposes of this essay, the reasons can be understood within the developmental history of English/Japanese lexicography. As a decoding Japanese-English dictionary, Kenkyūsha (1974) is the largest of its kind, and is the standard reference book for academics and translators alike. However, based on the make-up of the editorial committee and the fact that it is a decoding dictionary in a world that demands that it also act as an encoding dictionary, its shortcomings become readily apparent.
The “For Whom?” question is addressed in the title of Kenkyūsha (1992): “learners”. In the preface “learners” has been defined only as those “who wish to study and master practical modem Japanese”, but the dictionary can be used as an encoding dictionary with profit by students at both the beginning and intermediate levels.
Hartmann’s fourth question, “When-Where?”—that is, the context, in which dictionary-making is carried out—is linked to the “Who?” question. The following brief comments are only my impressions of the company for which I work. The company maintains a large staff to continually monitor and make corrections to its dictionaries after they are published, but the initial entries are researched and produced by academics working at home.
As mentioned before, the overwhelming portion of the short history of English/Japanese lexicography has been devoted to Japan’s study of the West in general, to the study of English and its terminology by the Japanese, and therefore the amount of reference materials about English on hand is considerable. However, even at a company like Kenkyusha, which has actively begun to produce a suitable dictionary for an entirely hitherto unaddressed audience, the amount of reference materials on Japanese is still quite low. But as I said before, this aspect of English/Japanese lexicography has only just begun.
Hartmann’s fifth question is “How?”, and invites questions about the methods by which dictionary-making is achieved. Hartmann here refers more to the psychological aspects of what goes on in the lexicographer’s head, but in this paper I would like to briefly mention the physical aspects and limit my subject to that which I know best, the Kenkyūsha (1992) dictionary. Because it is a dictionary for students of the language, example phrases and sentences were not culled from published sources. Other writers have commented on how hard it is to find just the correct citations, and this is even more so for those at the beginning and intermediate level.
Each entry, including the examples, was written by native Japanese speakers who were teachers either of Japanese to non-Japanese or of linguistics. Then, the teachers looked over each other’s work, and at the same time the work was gone over by my NESFJ colleagues and myself. At this stage, we were free to propose deletions, recastings, and additions, both of main entry items and of the contents of each entry itself. Many times these changes were accepted, the only arbitration at this stage being that of the Editor in Chief, Professor Shigeru Takebayashi, and that of the Managing Editor, Mr Kazuhiko Nagai. I have been speaking of methodology, but in this instance only of the (for lack of a better term) “mental” methodologies; the “physical” methodologies I would like to save for the sixth question.
“With What Means?” refers to the tools of the lexicographer. Hartmann speaks both of reference sources and work processing and information systems. As far as reference sources are concerned, since the Kenkyusha (1992) lexicographers are working at home or in their own institutional offices, what is available is that which is available to them personally. In my case, that means primarily the reference materials that I have accumulated in my nineteen-year career of translation, editing, and education. However, I must say that since I have been involved in the actual work of helping to produce dictionaries my own supply of dictionaries has increased dramatically. I freely and eagerly seek out and procure dictionaries that I would never have thought of buying as a translator. Landau (1989) talks about the “borrowing” that goes on among dictionary makers. Of course, none of us tries to do this intentionally, but it is important that we are aware of what the competition has done, if for no other reason than to try to improve upon it.
Unfortunately, the technical aspects of producing dictionaries are still not ideal. Some manuscripts are still submitted on paper and have to be input on the editorial side. There is no linkage between the editorial side and the compositors. After the final version has been prepared on disk, it is sent to the compositors, where the coding for printing is inserted. The composing software in use has simple search and find functions, but not enough to be able to perform editorial chores at the required level. So even though composing is computerised, there is still a distinction between the editorial offices and the composing room. This is not likely to change in the near future for several reasons, the major one of which is complexity of typographical design.
The page design of English dictionaries and encyclopedias has become complicated as well, but the stiff competition among monolingual and bilingual dictionary makers in Japan has assured that in an effort to make reference works easier to read and understand, the typographical design of the page has become more intricate. For example, in Kenkyūsha (1992), there can be as many as seven different typefaces in one entry. This means that the composing screen is filled with codes, making it next to impossible to edit on a file that has been set up for printing. This complication is another challenge to dictionary makers, but is unlikely to be met until the editorial procedures have become more thoroughly computerised.
The seventh and final question is “With What Effect?” In other words, what is the intended goal of dictionary making? Hartmann calls for “a comprehensive exploration of how the shape of the product is ultimately dependent on how its purpose is perceived by both producer and end user”. In a sense, this is another cyclical question, because it leads us back to the third question, “For Whom?” In this sense, Kenkyūsha (1992) is very specific—it is for learners. However, as Roberts (1991) mentioned in the talk on which her paper is based, dictionary makers, like other businessmen, are basically running a commercial operation and have to show a profit.
One reviewer (Leonard 1992) of Kenkyūsha (1992) complains about the use of romanisation as being a potential deterrent for serious students of Japanese. The publishers have to consider, though, the large segment of the potential market that is not going to be involved in a long-term study of the language—those who just want a handy reference guide while they are in Japan. The use of romanisation is a serious issue because, if only from a practical viewpoint, its adoption means that only one half of the potential contents can be included, since everything given in Japanese script has to be repeated in romanisation.
This analysis of a Japanese-English learner’s dictionary for an audience of translators may have seemed like carrying coals to Newcastle, but Hartmann’s seven questions were originally formulated for both the translator and lexicographer and so, in an age of ever-increasing academic fragmentation, they provide a common framework for translators and lexicographers to talk. In addition, since the ideal (or even near ideal) of the Japanese-English translator’s dictionary for English native speakers does not exist and, due to the commercial considerations involved, probably won’t exist unless like the Bilingual Canadian Dictionary (BCD) Project described in Roberts (1991) it receives outside, long-term funding, it is more productive to spend our time analysing the concrete results of lexicography rather than wasting our time on unrealistic wish lists.
In much the same spirit as Hartmann’s previously-mentioned comments on English/German lexicography, I would add that the Roberts BCD Project—the first real effort at producing a dictionary that reflects the actual usage of English and French in Canada and, I might add, one that represents the first efforts in the modem age to produce a dictionary that will please translators—has evolved only after and based upon the long history of American/British-Parisian French lexicography. The project, like all German/English dictionaries today, has a long past and a great tradition to draw upon. In spite of the shining efforts of the Jesuit fathers and J.C. Hepburn, the native-English-speaker side of Japanese/English lexicography still has a long road to travel. As we can see in the confusion that still surrounds the waei-nichiei dichotomy, there is still much work to be done.
Notes 1. Hepburn’s dictionary was published in 1862. By this time the Angeriago Taisei had appeared in 1814 and the Eiwa Taiyaku Shuuchin Jisho had appeared in 1843.
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