Powering your Japanese Learning and Playing through Google

It never ceases to amaze me the things that you can find online using Google. I’m sure that there are many really great search engines out there, but for some reason, I got Google’s back. We’re homeboys.

Google, what an interesting site to have amazed the world of searching online junk. Google’s name is actually a misspelling of the word googol, which is 10100 and is said to be what the company is reaching for. Now, there isn’t even a googol of webpages out there…yet..but still, Google is a powerhouse of a search engine.

Now how does all this apply to Japanese you might ask?

Knowing how to search quickly  to get what you want can be a massive benefit to the language learner. From finding vocabulary lists, site for learning, culture information, buddies from Japan, and so much more, you can really utilize Google.

But you say ‘Oh great Mikoto! I can’t search to save my life!” (/cough cough *wink wink* PANDA)

Tips on Googling Your Way to Mastery!

1) Sentences Are Mostly your Enemies!

“What is the Japanese way of saying night?” You might think this was a good idea. Yes, you might have. SHAME ON YOU! Honestly, go to a dictionary, a credible dictionary and do not waste your time on yahoo answers to find a crap load of incorrect romanji filled garbage.

Besides questions like that, which are mostly useless, there is another concept you must remember about questions. Often Google will try to find as many words strung together as it can, which will lead to someone else’s question. Which means you’re going to more likely find someone who doesn’t know this answer, than someone who does. Also on personal answer sites like Yahoo answers or forums, a lot of people there are trolls and/or just plain wrong without knowing it. Unless they offer a website/book/source (that’s good) about how they got that answer, I wouldn’t trust it,even if they claim to be native.

Also, if your question is an opinion, you’re more than likely to not get relevant and true answers. For instance, on the internet there is a lot of talk about racism in Japan. So if you type in something like “Why do Japanese people hate *insert race/nationality*” Chances are you are going to find many websites of people complaining or trying to tell you their opinion about the hate that Japanese people have. Think about this for a second. “Many Americans hate the middle east.” Is this true? Is it opinion? Depends on who you ask, American or not. (and just to clear it up, I do not hate the middle east at all).

Opinions are worthless, especially Non-Japanese people’s opinions about Japanese’s feelings.

Stop Words is a concept in many search engines and Google is no stranger to it. Common words like I, where, do, for and so on are omitted from searches because they often aren’t important. This can really cause a problem if that word is key to the item you’re searching. And that is where the next bullet point picks up!

2) How to Query! (fancy for How to Use the Search Box!)

You really might be like, hey Mikoto, I’m no idiot! Why you telling me I don’t know how to type into a box! Relax my friend, for you already know this somewhat.

  • Quote It!
    When you want something specific, don’t we naturally quote it? If you’re learning up a movie, you will type in quotes a lot of times, to make sure you get it, or lyrics of a song. Typing in lyrics like “we’ll meet in the middle” without quotes, you’ll get lucky, the song of choice, but a lot of times, without quotes you can find yourself looking at a whole lot of irrelevant searches.
  • Don’t Quote It!
    Sometimes lyrics/phrases/words are famous, like “i will always love you”. That’s a dousy if you’re not looking for the song, “I will always love you” made famous by Whitney Houston. So quotes wont save the day.
  • Use most likely Words
    What are you looking for? Buttons! then type Buttons. (seems easy enough)
    Though we can find things with off the wall ways of saying them, humans talk naturally and the internet is less formal because of it. So searching for formal phrases might not be helpful all the time, but helpful in others. For instance, We don’t really use the word ‘mobile device’ but rather cell phone. But if you are looking for something technical, mobile device might be a better search term than cell phone.
  • Be as Specific as Possible
    Searching for Yellow Polka dotted Buttons? Then make sure that’s in the search box.
    While this can hinder your search (someone doesn’t classify a button the same as you), it is always worth a shot to specifically describe an item you’re looking for.
  • Spelling oh how I hate thee!
    Wait what? You’re telling me I don’t have to spell right anymore? YAY! If you haven’t figured this out by now, you don’t have to spell things right (even in the JP searches). Google already as hey, did you mean this messages below when you’re pulling up a search. This can save you in a pinch if you’re not really sure exactly what word you’re even looking for. This is really handy if you hear a word on a drama, but cannot find it through dictionary means from denshi or something, and well, that’s no problem!
  • ~” Relate to meet
    Not many people are aware of the quaint little ~ button on their keyboard, much less its nice role for Google searching. This button allows you to search words that are related. So if you typed something like ~car, you could also get words like vehicle, automobile. Very useful if you’re trying to search up a concept that people might use different words for.
  • [#]…[#]
    Sometimes you might be searching for time ranges. Maybe there was a robotics convention in Japan you wanted to know about, and you know that the specific robot was presented around say 2008 and 2012. You could simply put 2008…2012 with other words like robotic ~convention Japan, and get some really relevant information fast. I think this works with time, but I’ve never tested it
    Number Ranges are helpful in so many ways, so it doesn’t always have to be a date, it could be a price range too! Limitless possibilities!
  • Someword:
    There are tons of words that will help you, that you place the word after that : that helps. Uh, that’s weird sounding but an example would be Author:Twain.
  1. Author:    Find author 
  2. define:     Define a word
  3. site:        search specific site
  4. link:        Find pages that link to said site
  5. info:        find information about term
  6. related:   things related to term
  7. allintitle:
  8. intitle
  9. allintext:
  10. intext:
  11. allinlinks:
  12. inlinks:
  13. filetype:
  14. group:
  15. insubject:
  16. location:
  17. source:
  18. store:

OMG! I could really go on but it’d  be ridiculous. You can find these types of things all over the place if you search more on google search commands!

3) Go Inception on that Google!
Its time to Search within a Search ニオ!One of the best ways to search on Google is to take what you’re searching to a new level using the searches you’re using. ( the brackets are the search box)

Say you’re looking for nouns, more so specifically those in the NLPT 5. Seems easy enough. [jlpt n5 vocabulary list] But darn it  all you seem to be getting are lists of vocabulary where nouns are all jumbled and none tell you which are nouns!

So, lets modify….[jlpt n5 noun vocabulary list]…still nothing, poo!, then [jlpt n5 “noun” list], still nothing worth using….wow this is hard…most give up here, oh but wait!

Maybe you’re not using the right words…hmm, a noun is a part of speech….[jlpt n5 vocabulary list parts of speech]…wow more nothing, oh wait…a random, not really worthwhile website…shows (名) for nouns….oh hey! I can use that.

BAM! Bus loads of vocabulary lists for the jlpt n5 that give the words parts of speech, including nouns..all because of this buddy added. (名)

Just because you don’t get the thing you’re looking for right away doesn’t mean its not there, it just means you need to change the way you’re looking it up!

Using other web pages to find other web pages is really useful  It can help you find other ways of saying things or finding things.

4) Dumb it Down! Less is More!

Google isn’t a human, so sometimes, more words = more mess. So say you’re looking for a drama and can’t remember its name (like mr. brain). rather than typing something like “drama where guy gets his head hit and turns into a problem solving genius helping the police solve crimes” it’d be a heck of a lot simpler to just say [jdrama head injury ~genius ~detective] #2 Mr. Brain! Of course, if it didn’t pull up what you’re looking for, just change it around some, maybe use different words and/or different parts of the plot.

And more or less lastly!

Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

Never stop trying to find things. The more you get use to ways of looking for things, the better you get at it and the faster you get. And this doesn’t stop in English land either. Google is excellent for any language, and finding things in Japanese with Google Japan, is even more rewarding!

And lastly lastly, a word of warning….

Gwen DeMarco: They're not ALL

Gwen DeMarco: They’re not ALL “historical documents.” Surely, you don’t think Gilligan’s Island is a… [All the Thermians moan in despair] Mathesar: Those poor people.

Just because its on the internet does not make it truth. Double check all your sources, especially if you’re relying on information for learning purposes.

ps: stop looking at her boobs!



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    October 2011 Contest:
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    July 2011 Contest:
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