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  1. Hikarin

    Can't you just use an online translator if you want to know what something means?
    No! Please people; online translators are extremely unreliable and should be used for jokes and folly alone. Don't believe me? Try typing something in English to turn into Japanese, then put it back into English and see how your sentence has changed.

    How can you tell the difference between "mawaru" and "meguru" since the characters look the same (回る 廻る)?
    Well, like many words with the same thing going on, it's actually quite easy to tell by the context.
    For example, "mawaru" to me is used in a physical sense like a planet where as "meguru" is more of a metaphorical thing like the seasons if that makes enough sense. The more you study, the more you'll understand.
  2. Hikarin
    Can you translate using a dictionary, without knowing much?
    This is something I am asked quite often. My answer is that I suppose it's not impossible, but I wouldn't recommend it. Even if you could do so with a dictionary, you'd have to thoroughly know how all the particles work along with auxiliaries, different word forms and so forth. You'd need to be able to pick up when something is used as an expression or phrase and you'd have to make sure there aren't any other meanings that aren't specified in said dictionary. That being said, to understand all that, you'd need to be fairly advanced in your Japanese anyway, so it really doesn't work. I suppose you could grasp a rough guestimation, but that is about it and I wouldn't hire you for translation work.
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