Translate & Write Japanese in Windows

Teachers and students of Japanese have long believed that in order to do any Japanese word processing, translation or simple text manipulation on a computer, a Macintosh, with its inherent ability to handle graphical characters, is the easy choice. But now, EZ JapaneseWriter and EZ JapaneseReader give Windows users tools to translate, read, write and manipulate Japanese, without having to buy expensive Japanese OSs such as DOS/V.

Both programs work together, letting one read scanned-in Japanese text, Japanese e-mail messages and Web pages in Japanese. Simply copy the desired Japanese text or Web page into the Windows clipboard and paste it into EZ JapaneseWriter.

The software not only translates the Japanese into English, with English words interspersed among the original Japanese text, but changes Kanji (the more difficult, Chinese-based character set) into Hiragana. Since there are well over 2,000 Kanji characters in common usage, this capability is invaluable for students of Japanese or former students trying to maintain their language skills.

Although EZ JapaneseWriter works quite well as an ad hoc OCR/translation tool, it is designed to assist in writing Japanese straight from English input. Users type English sentences in an "English" window and, when finished, simply click on the translate button on the toolbar. Depending on how one sets up the translation process, the program either translates all text immediately into a "Japanese" window, or asks for clarification from the user on ambiguous wording. When translation is finished, users can edit text, choosing different words or phrases for clearer understanding, retranslate words or sentences, and type in Japanese text directly.

The ability to choose different Kanji for a word's meaning greatly enhances the software's flexibility, letting more advanced speakers get the exact meaning intended. Since at least a mid-level understanding of Japanese is required to use EZ JapaneseWriter efficiently, teachers needn't worry about students misusing the software. And for teachers, EZ JapaneseWriter can quickly become an invaluable tool for creating homework in Japanese, manipulating scanned-in Japanese text, and communicating with other Japanese speakers via a Windows-based PC. EJ Bilingual, Torrance, CA, (310) 320-8139, W

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/1997 issue of THE Journal.