The Monokakido “Dictionaries” app
I can’t mention enough how much I have come to love this app over the past period of time. There are a lot of great things to mention about it, but the two things I consider the most important are the sync between my iPhone and my macbook for search history, as well as the cross-search between multiple dictionaries. More on those later, let’s start with a general overview.
What is the monokakido dictionaries app
The monokakido dictionaries app is (in my opionion) the greatest electronic dictionary in town. The functionality that it offers surpasses any of the other offerings, as it allows you to quickly look through a whole variety of dictionaries at the same time, jump between dictionaries while reading a definition, … It is the big game in town, though I think it’s sadly only available on iOs and macOs. We’ll be taking a quick glance at the functionality of the app, as well as how to get the most of it. A short list of the interesting functions it has :
- Batch search (skewered or consolidated search), allows searching multiple dictionaries at once.
- Pattern search, don’t know the spelling of the entire word? No problem! Thanks to wildcards!
- Trace and jump. Select a word by tracing it while holding down the ⌘ key and it will jump to that words entry in the dictionary!
- Bookmarks, set up bookmarks to any pages that grasp your interest, and sort them in the folder.
- Search history, remember what you’ve searched before (and how often), this is shared between your iOs and macOs system for maximum effectiveness, more on this later ^^
What dictionaries are available?
We will only be mentioning the monolingual Japanese dictionaries here, as they also have quite the selection of English, JP-ENG and some other language dictionaries. Under Japanese Kokugo we find 6 dictionaries, namely :
- 三省堂 新明解国語辞典
Under Japanese Kanji we find the following three dictionaries :
And while not technically dictionaries, there are two Japanese Thesauruses available that can be handy when you are looking into synonyms, antonyms and the like :
Then there are two Kogo dictionaries and two dictionaries with very specific terminology, but I don’t think they are worth the price for the average language learner. If your interests do lie in that direction, feel free to buy them though!
The first thing I’d personally recommend when starting to use the Dictionaries app is to tweak a few very useful settings for the entire app, namely :
General settings :
This is how I personally like to have my set-up. I’d recommend you playing around with the font sizes and contrast until you figure something out that works best for you. I do recommend enabling the search clipboard function, quick bookmark and to make sure to Sync your Bookmarks and History via iCloud if you also have an iPad or iPhone (but more on why this is useful later on)
Besides the general settings, once you have multiple dictionaries (which I would highly recommend for several reasons, first of which is that not all words are in every dictionary, second of all it’s always a good idea to compare dictionary entries to get a fuller idea of the word as well as more potential example sentences and the like). There are two other things you want to set-up, you can find these on the left side of the options, namely “Edit category order” and “edit search order”.
When you click category order you will see something like this :
These are the categories in which you will be looking for results. You can order them however you like (and depending on the dictionaries you own you might see other categories than me). But this is how I personally prefer to set them up. I mostly look up meanings of words, which is why I have set Japanese as the main category. Sometimes I’ll want a deeper look at the Kanji, or need to hear the pronunciation (Accent for me is only the NHK accent dictionary), and as a fall back if I can’t make heads nor tails from the definition I can always look it up in an Eng – Jpn dictionary.
When you click “edit search order” you’ll get a popup similar to this one :
Here you can re-arrange the order in which results will popup within the categories. You simply arrange the order of dictionaries you prefer to consult the most, or which definitions you find to be the most useful in general. You can still consult them all no matter how you arrange these though, so you don’t need to worry too much about the matter. I haven’t changed this one any more ever since I set it up the first time, there would be a few changes that I’d make if I were to change things. (Mostly switching the seventh and eight edition of the 三省堂国語辞典 as the eight edition has slightly better definitions in my opinion).
Basics of searching
Monokakido uses 串刺し検索 or skewered search, which enables querying of multiple corpora by certain categories, such as register type and period. Also known as cross search. While you can search in a specific dictionary by opening it from the “collection page”, like this :
Note : The main search page when opening the “MEIKYO” dictionary.
The best way to unlock the full power of the Monokakido Dictionaries app is by performing a search through all the dictionaries you own. You can simply do this by typing something in the main search page of the app, no need to open a dictionary. The resulting search will look like this :
We’ll be looking a bit closer at the options this search provides. (It’s also important to remember that the order of the dictionaries listed on the left is the result of the “edit search order” that we talked about before. There are several powerful little tools in this search box that might not be all that obvious at first glance. Let’s zoom in :
A first important thing to notice is the red dots in the middle on the right. This is a quick way to jump between dictionaries, as you can see that there are 45 headwords matching this search result in the Meikyou dictionary, and even 153 results in Daijisen. So, that would be a lot of scrolling if you didn’t get to hop around
The second important thing is when we go a bit higher are the categories. As you can see I’m currently in the “Japanese” category, meaning I’m searching through the Japanese dictionaries. I can switch my search criteria to the “Kanji”, “Accent” or “Eng – Jpn” categories depending on my search type. They will provide different entries by searching through another set of dictionaries.
The second powerful option is above that. When I’m searching through my Japanese dictionaries, I can choose out of five options :
Namely “word”, “idiom”, “example”, “kanji” and “group. Depending on which of these categories I choose I will see different results from those dictionaries. For example the first screen showed all searches through the Japanese dictionaries for “words”. However if I switch over to the “idiom” category, these are the results I get :
Yet other results are gained by switching to other categories. Depending on the dictionary a term you are looking for might not be included under the headwords, but it might show up in one of the other categories, so it can pay of to switch these up.
The next handy feature is where you see “Start” on the upper-left hand side. If you click on this you’ll get a selection of three options :
Changing these will indicate the search to either look for the input at the beginning or end of the headwords, or only exact matches. As you can see from the following image, Match will seriously cut down on your results, but will generally be more informative. I do suggest, especially when learning Kanji, to look through the list of words for ideas how they are used in compound words though, it can tell you a lot of useful information ^^
Result with “Match” selected :
As you can see, the results have been cut down by a lot
The next useful feature is the one you get when you press the little asterisk on the left hand side of the search bar. This is the first one that might not be entirely self explanatory. It’s the “wildcard” option, (though officially pattern search option) but as you can see by pressing it, there are actually 5 options that become available :
*: Zero or more arbitrary characters between two characters ->「あ*ま」finds「あま」,「あいま」,「あめだま」etc.
?: replace with any character, for each ? All possible words with one arbitrary character in that place will be shown. → 「あ?ま」finds「あいま」,「あたま」etc
@: replace with any kana → 「愛@@」finds「愛する」,「愛しい」,「愛でる」etc
#: replace with any kanji → 「一#一#」finds「一期一会」,「一長一短」etc
(…): Search for any word that has a character from the group → (あい)たま finds あたま and いたま.
The last useful feature on the main page is the search history (we’ll go over this in a bit more detail later on, because it has quite an awesome use-case!), which will display your last searches. So if you looked something up a bit ago and wanted to remind yourself? Quite nifty! It’s the clock on the right of the search bar :
The power of your search history
If you click this little icon here you get a very powerful tool at your finger tips, that is your search history. I personally clear mine at the end of a day, but there are several use-cases that we will discuss where keeping your search history for longer periods of time is incredibly useful (this is mostly the case for all of you doing study with Anki!)
When you look through your search history you can choose to show a “frequency” list. If you have to look up the same word multiple times when encountering it in the wild, this is where you’ll know that. (Don’t mind my basic entries due to writing tutorials today )
The useful thing here is that you can figure out words you encounter and should learn in a matter of seconds, and you have them sorted in order of relative importance all for you. I personally just use it as a list to brush up on terms at the end of a reading session by looking at the same item across my dictionaries, but if you are an SRS-ing fiend, you can use these perfectly well to know what cards you need to create next.