Getting Started | COMPARE MODELS | Purchasing | FAQ
( Models | Tutorials | Reviews | Features )

Canon IDF-4500 Tutorial

Many of the features below apply to all Wordtank IDF models. The displays shown in the screen shots below are from the IDF-4500. The spec. and actual operation of the features can vary between models. See details of each model for which features are supported.

Look up an English word

Created with: Canon Wordtank IDF-4500
Applies to: Canon Wordtank IDF models 4000, 4500
Also Applies to: Canon Wordtank IDF models 3000, 4100, 4600 (see Note)

Note: This basic procedure will apply to all Wordtank IDF models. However, the actual displays shown in the screen shots can vary since the Eng->Jap dictionary varies between models.

A reader asked how to use the Canon IDF dictionary to look up an English word to learn the pronunciation of the Japanese equivalent. This tutorial will describe how to look up an English word and understand the Eng->Jap dictionary display using the English noun "seal" as in the animal. You will need to know how to read katakana and hiragana since romanize Japanese is not used.

Figure 1
Figure 1 - Search for the English word "seal"

Select the Eng->Jap dictionary. Enter the English word "seal". There are two different entries, "seal 1", and "seal 2". Figure 1 shows the list of the closest matching entries in older of relevance. Check the first by pressing the enter key.

Figure 2
Figure 2 - Entry "seal 1"

Some definition have no examples, like definition 1. However, not just the examples are helpful. In the entry "seal 1", on the line above definition 1 there is a kanji with a black background circled in yellow. This is the part of speech abbreviation for the word "meishi" meaning noun. So this tells us this definition is a noun and not a verb, for example, as in "to seal an envelope". The example for definition 2 reads "break the seal on a jar". This is not the meaning we want. If you quickly searched through the first entry you will not find an example meaning the animal "seal".

Figure 3
Figure 3 - Entry "seal 2"

So we check the second entry, "seal 2". As seen in Figure 2, the example for definition 1 shows "fur seal", "harbor seal", etc. This is the definition we want. Now we need to find the Japanese pronunciation. Starting at the left you see a kanji character in parenthesis. This is an abbreviation for the kanji "doubutsu" meaning animal. Once you learn some of these parts-of-speech kanji and abbreviations, searching gets easier. The next text is katakana for "azarashi". Select the text and jump to the Jap->Eng dictionary. The text is shown as selected in Figure 2.

Figure 4
Figure 4 - Japanese Entry "azarashi"

After jumping to the Jap->Eng dictionary, we see examples like "harbor seal", and "elephant seal" indicating various types of seals. This confirms that the word "azarashi" means the animal seal. If this was not the correct word, then we would return and try jumping on the next Japanese word until the correct word is found. This may sound incredible tedious but I gets to be quite second nature once you become accustom to the entry layouts and some of the more common kanji abbreviations.

Look up a Japanese word

Created with: Canon Wordtank IDF-4500
Applies to: Canon Wordtank IDF models 4000, 4100, 4500, and 4600
Also Applies to: Canon Wordtank IDF-3000 (see Note)

Note: This basic procedure will apply to all Wordtank IDF models. However, the actual displays shown in the screen shots will vary since the Jap->Eng dictionary is different on the IDF-3000.

This tutorial will describe how to search the Jap->Eng dictionary and understand the display in order to learn the usage of the Japanese verb deru. You will need to know how to read katakana and hiragana since romanize Japanese is not used.

Figure 1
Figure 1 - Entry deru

First, you might ask how the Japanese word deru is entered on the keyboard, and this would be a good question. There are two input methods that are configurable on all Wordtank models, romaji and kana. I find the kana input method quite unnatural to use as a foreigner. The keyboard is a standard "querty" keyboard so using romaji is very simple. Just enter d-e-r-u on the keyboard and the dictionary converts it to kana real time.

The top line shows the searched word in kana and kanji. The next line starts with a "1". This is the definition number. deru has many meanings in Japanese which is why I choose it as an example. Next to the definition number in braces are meanings of this definition in Japanese. For example, The first reads "soto e iku" meaning "to go outside". It is often helpful to jump on these kanji in order to get a basic understanding of the definition.

Figure 2
Figure 2 - deru - Definition 1 - 'leave'

Now we continue to scroll down the display to the meaning "leave". Just below this is black circle containing a kanji indicated in yellow. This is the abbreviation for intransitive verb. On this line you will see "(hito ga)". This means that deru is used to mean "someone leaves" with the particle "ga" as in "hito ga deru". On the next line is "(resshya ga)(ho-mu kara)". This means that deru is used when "a train leaves (departs) from somewhere" as in "resshya ga ho-mu kara deru".

Now let's look at the last two lines. There is black circle containing another kanji also circled in yellow. This is the abbreviation for transitive verb. As you know transitive verbs take a direct object. On this line you will see "(hito, norimono ga)(basho)o". This means that when deru is used to mean "someone/some transportation leaves somewhere" the subject takes "ga" and the place takes the particle "o". This can be see in the example "leave for work" followed by "tsutomeni iku tame ie o deru". The important part here is "ie o deru" which means "leave the house" and uses the particle "o", the direct object in this case, to designate the place from which the leaving is being done.

Figure 3
Figure 3 - deru - Definition 3 - 'come out'

Now let's look an a different definition all together. This is definition 3 meaning to "come out". As before, we want to learn how to use deru to mean "come out" correctly and with the correct particles. Firstly, if we jump on the kanji in parenthesis next to the definition number 3, to the Jap->Eng dictionary we will get the definitions "appear" and "emerge" among others. Now we need to see how it is used for this meaning. At the bottom we see the word "rise" and below it we see the kanji abbreviation for intransitive verb again so there will be no direct object. Next to that is displayed "(taiyou, tsuki, hoshi nado ga)" which means definition 3 of deru is used for "things like the sun, the moon, and stars" and takes the particle "ga".

Figure 4
Figure 4 - deru - Definition 4 - 'appear'

This is definition 4 ,meaning to "appear". As before, if we jump on the kanji in parenthesis next to the definition number, we will get the definitions "appearance", "presences", and "attendance" among others. We see the word "appear" and below it we see the kanji abbreviation for intransitive verb again. This means there will be no direct object associated with this use. Next to that is displayed "(butai, eiga nado ni)" which means definition 4 of deru is used for "things like stage, movies" and takes the particle "ni" to mean "in" or "at". Below this we see the example "appear on television..." as "terebi ni deru".

Using the Japanese dictionary

Created with: Canon Wordtank IDF-4500
Applies to: Canon Wordtank IDF models 4000, 4100, 4500, 4600
Also Applies to: Canon Wordtank IDF-3000

Note: This basic procedure will apply to all Wordtank IDF models. However, the actual displays shown in the screen shots can vary since the Japanese dictionary is different on the IDF-3000.

When I first started using my Canon Wordtank, I rarely used the Japanese dictionary since there was no English text. However, there is valuable information in this dictionary as we will see in this tutorial.

Figure 1  Figure 1
Figure 1 - ichidan and godan verbs

Use the Japanese dictionary to determine if a verb is an ichidan (Group II) verb or a godan (Group I) verb. For example, if you looked up the word "shaberu" (to talk), in the Jap->Eng dictionary you would see that it does not display the verb classification so you do not no how to conjugate this verb. If there are enough examples for the entry using different conjugations like shaberimasu and shaberanai you can figure this out. However, if you look up "shaberu" in the Japanese dictionary, the verb classifications are displayed as shown in Figure 1. In our example shaberu shown in Figure 1 (left) the top kanji is the abbreviation for intransitive verb and the kanji below it is the kanji for the number 5. This means it is a godan intransitive verb. The kanji ichi (1) indicates an ichidan verb as seen in Figure 1 (right). There may also be the kanji for upper ("ue") or lower ("shita") before the kanji ichi as in the entry for "nobiru" (to grow) seen in Figure 1 (right). This is part of a more detailed classification scheme. However for conjugation purposes we only need to know if a verb is ichidan or godan.

Kanjigen Kanji Dictionary

Created with: Canon Wordtank IDF-4500
Applies to: Canon Wordtank IDF models 3000, 4000, 4500, 4600
Also Applies to: Canon Wordtank IDF models 4100 (see Note)

Note: This basic procedure for searching for kanji will apply to all Wordtank IDF models. However, the actual displays shown in the screen shot can vary since the 4100 model does not use the Kanjigen kanji dictionary. Also I have been told that the IDF-4100 kanji dictionary does not contain compounds.

This tutorial will describe how to search the Kanjigen Kanji dictionary effectively. You will need to know how to read katakana and hiragana since romanize Japanese is not used.

ON/KUN Reading and Stroke Count Search

Figure 1
Figure 1 - Kanji search display

This is the kanji search display. There are 3 lines to enter the search criteria. The kanji matching the entered criteria are displayed below this, 10 characters per screen. The last line displays the screen number and the number of screens of matching kanji for the current criteria. The display is updated real time which means you do not need to press a key to process the data. The display will update as soon an new, valid data is entered.

The first line is for ON and KUN reading and multiple entries are allowed. Using multiple readings can really help narrow down the kanji you are searching for since there are many readings that are common to many kanji. For example, searching for "sen" results in 170 characters or 17 screens, where as a search for "sen&zen" results in only 7 screens. The next line is for radical and stroke count searches. All students are familiar with the tedious process of counting strokes, since this method can be used with little prior knowledge of kanji. However, by itself this is probably the least effective method. Entering a stroke count of "11" results in 580 matching kanji as seen in Figure 1. Searching through all 58 screens of kanji just to discover that the kanji you are searching for was actually 12 strokes, not 11, is really annoying.

Radical Search

Figure 2
Figure 2 - Radical list display

To include a radical in you search, enter the stroke count of the radical and then select the radical from the radical list as seen in Figure 2. Each screen displays 10 radicals, and like the kanji display there can be multiple screens. The screen number and total number of screens are displayed in the upper right of the radical list.

Component Search

Kanji for 'tsuyu' (crane)
Kanji for 'tsuyu' (crane)

Figure 3
Figure 3 - Component search

Suppose you have never seen the above kanji before and you want to look it up. Since you have never seen this kanji before you do not know the ON or KUN reading. If you are not studying kanji the radical search will be of little help. This leaves the stroke and components searches. Counting strokes, as we have seen, is time consuming on kanji with many strokes and is error prone with smaller and more decorative fonts. Looking at this kanji I can recognize two "components" that I already know as separate kanji. ame (rain) and kuchi (mouth). I enter one or more ON or KUN readings for the known components separated by the "&" sign, and the search is reduced to only 19 kanji characters in this example. I simply choose the kanji I am searching for from these 19. Of'course the more simple kanji you know, the more successful component searching you can do.

The key to searching the Kanjigen dictionary is to use all the search criteria you know to narrow down the matching kanji. I usually start with any known ON or KUN readings and know components. For simple kanji, I will then enter a stroke count if needed. For complicated kanji I may guess at a radical. If I still cannot find my kanji I will usually vary my stroke count by +/- 1 to allow for errors in counting. With a little practice, you will be a pro in no time.

Kanji Entry Text

Figure 4
Figure 4 - Kanji entry text

This is the kanji entry display with some of the key elements indicated. Starting from right to left, top to bottom is the stroke count, and the kanji's radical. Next is a list of ON readings written in katakana. To the right is a list of KUN reading written in hiragana. It is not seen in this figure, but the kanji portion and the hiragana portion of the okurigana is separated by a dot in the KUN readings. The next indicated area on the display is a list of special readings used in names.

Kanji Compounds

Figure 5  Figure 5
Figure 5 - Kanji compound list and compound entry

I received a number of questions regarding kanji compounds listed in the kanji dictionary. The IDF 3000, 4000, 4500, and 4600 models all use the same Kanjigen kanji dictionary. The 4100 uses a different kanji dictionary and I have been told that it does not contain a list of compounds for each kanji like the Kanjigen dictionary does. Figure 4 shows the Kanjigen kanji compound screen displayed after selecting a kanji from the list of kanji matching the search criteria.

From the kanji compound list display shown in Figure 4, selecting the far-most right entry displays the entry for the kanji character as seen in Figure 5 (left). Selecting a kanji compound from the list displays the kanji compound entry as seen in Figure 5 (right). The compound entry, although only written in Japanese is convenient for two reasons. The first is that the compound pronunciation is written in kana. The second is that it is easy to jump to the Jap->Eng dictionary using the compound text in the compound entry. Without these two benefits one would need to make a few guesses at the kana spelling and search the Jap->Eng dictionary until the compound was found. This can be a little tedious as seen in the next section, "Guessing at Kanji Compounds".

Guessing at Kanji Compounds

Kanji for 'tozan' (mountaineering)
Kanji for 'tozan' (mountaineering)

Figure 6  Figure 6
Figure 6 - Kanji entries for a kanji compound

This section will show how to search for kanji compounds that are not in the kanji dictionary. I have had to do this even with my 4500 when the compound I am searching for is not in the kanji dictionary. I will use the above kanji compound as an example. This is a good example because although it is a fairly common compound, it is not in the Kanjigen kanji dictionary. Suppose you have never seen this compound before. The first step is to search for the individual kanji characters. Once found check the ON reading for the two characters. The majority of compounds use ON readings for both kanji in the compound. If the compound can not be found using the ON readings, try using the KUN readings, and finally a combination of ON and KUN readings. In this example, both the kanji have multiple ON readings. This is not uncommon. I start with the first ON reading and work my way down trying all combinations until I find the compound.

Sometimes a compound is not listed in the Jap->Eng dictionary and you need to try the Japanese dictionary. If all I am interested in is the pronunciation then this is not a problem. If I need the definition then, as a last resort, I read the Japanese definition and jump to words I don't know. So in the above example I would start with entering tousan in the Jap->Eng dictionary using the keyboard. There are two entries, but not the compound I am searching for. So I continue with tousen, and then tosan. An entry for tosan does not exist, but the first entry displayed is the compound I am searching for, tozan meaning mountain climbing. It is not unusual for the first kana of the second kanji of a compound to receive a ten ten changing its pronunciation.

English Menus

I got a request from a reader to add a tutorial for setting up the English menus on a Canon Wordtank model. This is an important feature because to date, no other dictionaries support English menus and prompts. But having said that, this feature should not be the sole basis for which manufacturer's dictionary you purchase. You will eventually get used to using any dictionary if you use it enough.

IDF-4500 Keyboard
Figure 1 - IDF-4500 Keyboard

Getting to the Settings menu is simple. Press the shift key (1) and then the "settei" (settings) key (2). The Setting menu will be displayed and the "Change Message" option is always displayed in English. So just move down to that option, change it to English, move down to the last option on the screen, which is save and return, and press the big enter key (3). Now the dictionary should be setup for English menus and prompts.

Other Features

Configuration

Figure 1
Figure 1 - IDF-4500 Configuration

This is the configuration screen. Starting from the top, the first configurable item is Key Sound which allows the user to turn on/off the click sound the keys make when pressed. Next is Input method which allows Japanese words to be input as romaji or kana. Auto power off sets the time before the unit is shut off automatically after not being used. Delete wordmemo allows the user to delete wordmemo 1 through 4 separately. Individual entries can be deleted from the wordmemo display. And finally, Change Message selects between Japanese prompts and English prompts. In addition, the 3000 model allows the Kanji and Japanese dictionary entries to be displayed horizontally instead of vertically.

Wordmemo

Figure 2  Figure 2
Figure 2 - Wordmemo Recall

Storing an entry in wordmemo is simple as pressing a bottom and selecting which wordmemo to store the entry in. To review the entries in wordmemo Enter wordmemo, select which wordmemo to use, and select which mode to use as seen in Figure 2 (left). Test mode is almost identical to study mode and does not seem all that useful. Setup allows some simple display configuration like sorting on order of entry versus the entry's dictionary. Once a wordmemo is selected, the saved entries are displayed as seen in Figure 2 (right). Selecting and entry displays the entry. The user can jump from the entry, save new entries, and press "return" to return back to the wordmemo display seamlessly and without limitations. Wordmemo word a little different for the 3000. See the IDF-3000 section for details.

Word History

Figure 3
Figure 3 - Word History Recall

There is a separate word history for each dictionary. For example, the IDF-4500 has a separate word history for the Japanese, Japanese Phrase, Illustration, English, English Phrase, Eng->Jap, Eng->Jap Phrase, Jap->Eng, Katakana, Kanji, Eng Thesaurus dictionaries as well as separate histories for the Japanese and English multiple word search. That is 13 separate 30-word histories each storing the last 30 successful searches automatically!

Illustration Dictionary

Figure 4  Figure 4
Figure 4 - Illustration Dictionary

I rarely use the illustration dictionary. I have use it on occasion, but only when playing around. The only searches I have found useful to date are the illustrations for toriniku, butaniku, gyuuniku as seen in Figure 4 (left). And also the various Buddha images which I have seem to developed an interest for. For example the searches for "*nyorai", "*bosatsu", and "*kannon" only result in a total of 10 images which are difficult to make out like this entry for the 1000 arm Kannon Bosatsu seen in Figure 4 (right). I honestly don't feel it is not worth paying more money to get a model just because it has the illustration dictionary.