Those who are trying to learn Japanese often are confronted with concepts that are not explained adequately, or even at all, in printed instructional materials or on the Internet. On the Internet especially, one must deal with anonymous articles of questionable quality. In addition, instructional materials present information mostly in piecemeal fashion, with a single topic presented broken up into bite-size pieces distributed among many lessons, with no tabular overview that brings all the pieces together. A goal of the Linguapedia is to plug this gap by presenting, compiled in one place, everything a learner might want to know about any given topic. Topics are presented in alphabetical order under titles such as “kanji”, “radicals”, “character dictionaries”, and “pitch accent”, and are explained in an easy-to-follow way. The articles are supplemented with tables that give the beginner an overview of the topic, presenting, for example, all the kana characters. But even those who are far advanced in the language will find useful information, such as how to write, and input by a keystroke-sequence, rare syllables like ドゥァ that are represented with two or three kana.
This Linguapedia is not a finished product but a first, faltering step in a never-ending project. It would be good to have more collaborators on this project, for the amount of material to present is just too broad and complex for one or two persons. The initial entries deal with questions that have heretofore been neglected in Japanese-language studies, such as the topic of radical systems, for which there are few brief overview articles and practical instructions. The articles are dated and signed with the full name (except for W.H.) of their authors.
Suggestions and critical comments are always welcome.
In conclusion, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Horst J. Plambeck, who prepared the kana tables and worked on them with me.
September 2005, W.H.