Jeffrey's Fuzzy Kana Search

To a native English speaker, the names ``Kelly'' and ``Kerry'' sound quite different. To a native Japanese speaker, however, they sound virtually identical.

What is important to one language's ear might sound insignificant to another's, and it works both ways. For this reason, I have built in the idea of fuzzy searching, whereby the search will often be able to ignore those linguistic characteristics of a word's spelling (in romaji) which might be missed by an English speaker.

For example, the capital city of Japan is not ``tokyo'', but ``toukyou''. The long vowels are very important in Japanese, yet the English speaker is used to glossing over such details as not being important to our speech.

To help the non-native speaker find words more quickly, I've implemented what I call a fuzzy search. A fuzzy search will attempt to mitigate the difficulties non-native speakers have identifying the exact Japanese.

In a fuzzy search:

It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to remember that words returned from a single fuzzy search may be actually be pronounced completely differently, and are may well sound completely and utterly unsimilar to a native Japanese as, say, ``fish'' and ``happily'' do to a native English speaker.

As an example, consider the fuzzy search of ``tokyo''. Among other, the following will be returned:

tokkyo
special permission; patent
tokkyou
convex lens
toukyou
Toukyou (pl); Tokyo; current capital of Japan
Notice that each entry has a different pronunciation, yet may sound generally similar to the ear of a native English speaker.

There is a word in Japanese, waapurobaka , for someone whose kanji-writing ability has suffered due to over-reliance on the kana->kanji conversion systems used to input Japanese text on a computer. They merely need to recognize the correct kanji, so their ability to actually produce it diminishes. Don't let this kind of thing happen with your pronunciation

One note: a fuzzy search does not include certain grammatical points of aural confusion:

Comments appreciated
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