Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tae Kim's guide to Japanese Grammar as a .epub

Here it is.

This guide to Japanese grammaris highly recommended by lots of people because it teaches "real" Japanese rather than a stilted textbook version and also because it doesn't try to over-translate the Japanese example sentences, rather it just leaves them making their sense in Japanese. This last bit is particularly interesting as the "true" meaning of a sentence in Japanese is often highly dependent on the context because in Japanese you're allowed leave out pretty much anything that is obvious from the context, subject, object etc. so picking a single meaning as the translation is often just not appropriate.

I've been meaning to read it for ages but I don't want to print it out and most of my reading now is on my Android phone, e.g. while putting Seán to sleep. The guide comes as a giant HTML file or a PDF, neither of which are convenient on Android. There is however a very nice ebook reader called Aldiko which can open .epub files. Despite the fact that .epub is just zipped up html files, Alidko cannot read plain HTML.

After much searching, I finally found a html to epub converter called Calibre - Google search didn't help, in the end I found it through Aldiko's help pages and it seems to have done a fine job of converting the book to .epub format with it's html2epub program (no setting options or anything, just point it at the html and it works). Calibre is open source and available to apt-get on recent Ubuntu releases. I'm pretty sure I'll be using it often. It would also make a very nice web-service - give it a URL and get back a .epub great for those too-long-to-read-right-now web pages, maybe I'll get around to something like that.