The 29th Public Lecture of “The Future of Central Eurasia and Japan” Series was held on August 24, 2021. The guest speaker, Dr. Makoto Yazawa, Professor of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Tsukuba, delivered a lecture on “The Forefront of Japanese Digital Dictionary Research: Towards Language Support Tools that Meet the Individual Needs and Abilities.”
D. in Humanities and the Graduate Student of Arts, Letters, and Linguistics at the University of Tsukuba, Dr. Yazawa has been conducting research and teaching in Japanese linguistics and subject education for more than 30 years since he joined the university in 1989. In addition to his research on Japanese grammar, he has also been active in language education, compiling Japanese dictionaries such as the Meikyo Kokugo Jiten and writing textbooks. In this lecture, Dr. Yazawa talked about the research results on Japanese digital dictionaries for Japanese language learners and the future development of Japanese digital dictionaries as the movement for social reform using IoT and AI technology is active worldwide.
With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the concept of storing textbooks and works on tablets, Japanese dictionaries are no longer just a source of linguistic information. Still, they are the basis of a service that provides users with the Japanese language information they lack. According to the producing company, the service will help users read and write and listen and speak. Three concepts such as one-stop service, individualized response, and linking to language activities are necessary for electronic dictionaries to function. The talk proceeded from what kind of research is required to implement these concepts in society and conducted experiments and observations. Elementary school students can quickly find the meaning of the word, compare definitions in different dictionaries, and go beyond the category of language to investigate the historical context in which it was written by using an electronic dictionary for reading texts regardless of their academic level. It was a very stimulating lecture that made the listeners imagine the future of electronic dictionaries.