JLect.com aims to provide the first and most dependable online dictionary that focuses specifically on the many dialects and languages spoken in Japan. JLect hopes to enable its readers to gain a better understanding of these unique forms of speech and to become an invaluable resource to both learners and linguists alike. All entries are divided by their written form, part-of-speech, regional use, synonyms, dictionary entry, and etymological history. Where available, example sentences and usage notes are provided as well.
Note that JLect.com does not contend whether certain forms of speech should be properly considered dialects of the Japanese strata or languages of their own right. The Ryukyuan variants in particular are unquestionably related to Japanese. They do, however, differ more strongly than the mainland dialects in terms of phonology, morphology, syntax and lexical similarity. On the other hand, certain accepted Japanese dialects, such as the Kagoshima dialect, are considered difficult to grasp, and are frequently cited for their mutual unintelligibility.
The classification debate is strenuous and besides the purpose of this dictionary. As such, JLect.com will position itself to use the most common English apellation where applicable. Okinawan proper is thus refered to as the Okinawan language, while Kansai-ben remains named the Kansai dialect. This also conforms with the terminology established in numerous academic and published works. Furthermore, since February 2009, UNESCO officially recognized Ainu, Amami, Hachijō, Kunigami, Miyako, Okinawan, Yaeyama and Yonaguni as separate languages.
JLect.com is a fully independent, non-profit initiative. In addition to JLect's own dictionaries, JLect also integrates the following projects:
- JMdict dictionary (© EDRDG)
- Wikidata (© CC BY-SA 3.0)
- Wiktionary (© CC BY-SA 3.0)
- Tatoeba project (© CC BY-SA 2.0)
- KanjiVG (© CC BY-SA 3.0), by Ulrich Apel
- Japanese-English Bilingual Corpus of Wikipedia's Kyoto Articles Version 2.01 (© CC BY-SA 3.0), translations by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT)
- 沖縄語辞典 データ集 Okinawago jiten dēta-shū (Okinawan Dictionary Data Collection) (© CC BY 4.0), published by the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics
In the future, JLect is expected to integrate with the JMnedict name dictionary (© EDRDG) for names, as well as the KANJIDIC2 (© EDRDG) and RADKFILE (© EDRDG) projects for kanji information.