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Leopard More Japanese-friendly Than I Thought

October 16th, 2007

Apple has just announced the official Leopard release date as just ten days away, and has posted a complete list of the 300+ features of the OS. What surprised me are some nifty additions for those of you interested in Japanese-language functionality.

First, in the Dictionary program:

Japanese-English Dictionary
Translate English to Japanese and vice versa. This capability is now built into the Leopard Dictionary.

Japanese Language Support
In Leopard, the Dictionary application supports the Japanese language right out of the box, with an industry-leading Japanese dictionary and thesaurus provided by Shogakukan. The dictionary contains over 200,000 words with rich descriptions and examples, and the thesaurus contains 25,000 words covering 6,000 categories.

Right there–with the Japanese dictionary and thesaurus–we have some powerful stuff. This will make a MacBook more valuable than ever for Japanese students who otherwise depend on their Word Tanks. And I’ll bet that the examples are not the usual 80-year-old linguistic dinosaurs so many J-E/E-J dictionaries tend to sport.

The translation thing is less impressive, unless Apple has radically improved upon the existing web-based J-E/E-J translation module, which for now does a fairly bad job–it’s only good enough to (sometimes) get the very basic gist of a sentence.

Expanded Font Set in Japanese
Put updated Japanese fonts to work. The included Japanese font families, Hiragino Gothic and Hiragino Mincho, are considered among the most beautiful of Japanese fonts, and they now support Hyogaiji, the new standard for Japanese character sets defined by the National Language Council and Japan Industry Standards.

That’s never bad.

New Input Methods
Take advantage of new input methods for Chinese, Arabic, and Japanese languages. … Advanced predictive input for Japanese [emphasis mine] guesses characters based on context, with improved accuracy in Leopard. And localized help is provided for all of the CJK input methods, including English.

Can you say “iPod Touch,” or even “iPhone” in Japanese? Even money that this is why Apple invested in these technologies. I noticed this system already at work in the iPod Touch in Japan. About time they brought it to OS X. Another big step forward for Japanese users.

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