Keitai Mail Translator

The translator is unavailable for a few days. I am currently porting it over to my new server, and rewriting it using PHP along the way… Stay tuned for an update some time soon.

Like everybody here, I heavily rely on keitai mails for my communications.
Unlike most people though (well, that is, unlike most locals), I have a really hard time deciphering the kanji-laden mails my friends send me. Especially given the evil pleasure some of them take into using particularly rare and nasty kanjis.
Of course, there is Jim’s Breen awesome WWWJDIC dictionary out there, and it even has an i-mode version. But given the limitation of my phone (no easy way to cut and paste), it’s rather useless when I need to decrypt a whole email.

Since I was only working like 27 hours a day this week (who need a social life anyway), I decided to write a small script to help me with that.

In a nutshell:

The script works by taking any incoming email and replying with a word-by-word translation, as provided by Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC. In order to make the translation a bit more legible on a phone’s screen, it strips any unnecessary text and replaces HTML tags the best it can.

For the time being, I’m leaving it open for use by anybody as long as it doesn’t start hogging my server’s resources. I’ll probably even release the code for it, although it’s not that impressive and certainly won’t make it into this year’s best hack’s nominees.

To use it, simply forward any email in japanese (kanjis and kanas) from your keitai to: jp2eng @

You should receive back a translation right away.

It’s most definitely a beta version, so it might, and certainly will, have tons of bugs… if you encounter one, and you are so inclined, send me a note and I’ll look into fixing it.

Any incoming mail is logged on the server for security purposes, which means technically I could read them (then again, so could your local ISP with your regular emails), though I certainly have better stuff to do with my time. Nonetheless, if you feel uncomfortable with the possibility of somebody reading the mails you translate, do not use this service.

I’ll appreciate any feedback.


  1. just tried it, very nifty and handy. unfortunately, while the definitions come through no problem, the japanese that was translated is mojibake. I already knew what the email I used meant, but if I didn’t I think the translations from WWWJDIC would have confused more than helped. fwiw, i’m using a AU phone.

    I fixed a bunch of encoding issues (like the one above) and the kanjis now seems to be displayed correctly on every phones…

    As for usefulness of translations, please keep in mind that WWWJDIC is a *dictionnary*, not a translator a la ‘babelfish’… it’s intended to help people, who already have a decent knowledge of the language, with difficult words (it will also spot conjugation and inflections for you)… trying to translate a text from which one does not understand a single word is indeed likely to result in a painfully confusing mess. ;o)

Leave a Reply