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Chinese-Chinese Dictionaries for Learners


Demonic_Duck

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I've been meaning for some time now to make the switch from primarily relying on C-E to C-C dictionaries, and I was wondering if learner's dictionaries exist for such a purpose. There are a good few English-English learner's dictionaries available (e.g. Merriam Webster, Cambridge), but I've never seen such a thing for Chinese-Chinese.

 

If not, what's a good general-use dictionary which explains things relatively simply? Is 现代汉语规范词典, as available on Pleco, any good?

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I'd rather a 词典 than a 字典. Also, I'm thinking more of something aimed at language learners, though I guess there'd be a fair amount of overlap (though possibly a dictionary for 小学生 would have a different vocabulary focus and less attention paid to very specifically grading the language).

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The Longman Advanced Chinese Dictionary is fantastic. I don't know if it's for learners or not, but the definitions are clear and straightforward, which is more than I can say about a lot of other dictionaries. The Guifan dictionary is great too, and it's, you know, the standard one. But I generally like the Longman better. It's also highly recommended by skylee.

 

You can always try both previews out before you buy one.

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The basic C-C dictionary in Pleco is quite good, although the number of entries is small. Most definitions are pretty simple, though occasionally you'll run into one that's worded in a very formal, academic way. However if you're using it in Pleco you can switch back and forth between your C-C and C-E dictionaries, which eases the transition a lot.

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@OneEye: The Longman sounds interesting (and seems to suggest in its description that it's intended for learners), but I'll have to pass on it for now if it's traditional only. Looking at the demo for the Guifan, it looks very nice too so I may just go with that.

 

@feihong: What is the "basic C-C dictionary in Pleco", and how does one access it?

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I have a few of this publisher's (Tuttle) books and flashcards and have found them to be very good.

 

They do this: http://www.tuttlepublishing.com/language-books/mandarin-chinese/dictionaries/beginners-chinese-dictionary

 

They also have a few other Chinese dictionaries.

 

Hope this helps.

 

.

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I bought this seven volume hardcover set for Chinese gradeschoolers on sale for just $20 before shipping.

Zidian, cidian, synonyms, antonyms, chengyu, etc.

It's still available at Amazon.cn (Google 《小学生常备工具书系列·彩图大字版(套装共7册)》)

[Edit: There were other versions available back then. I was sure to order the large print version. Its print is I'd say normal, not for small children's eyes.]

 

Here was my review: http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/27932-4313pp-ch-ch-dictionaryreference-for-children/

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I really like the Guifan Cidian offered by Pleco.  Although not a learners dictionary, it often has notes at the end of a definition pointing out differences in similar words and also commonly used 'incorrect' pronunciations.

 

Longman appears to be Traditional only (at least in that announcement), which is not necessarily a problem, but if you are mainland based, it might not be ideal.

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I second Imron's recommendation. I use the guifan cidian on Pleco and on my Mac (comes free in the Dictionary app). The guifan gives an example (sometimes just a collocation rather than an entire sentence) of the most common usage for each sense of a word, and lots of useful notes as Imron mentioned. It explains the origin of historical/literary chengyus, and will sometimes give tips on how not to mess up writing certain often confused characters.

 

That being said, I haven't used any other C-C dictionaries extensively, so maybe the Longman is even more amazing.

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I've always been happy with the Guifan. The convenience of having it on Pleco is a big plus, but I don't think you'll go wrong with it - and if at any point you can't understand a Chinese definition, you have your other dictionaries right there...

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I'm basically decided on the Guifan for now (though still intreagued to know if Chinese-Chinese dictionaries for non-native Chinese learners exist). The only thing now is paying for the damn thing - it seems it's impossible to use Chinese cards or bank accounts to do so (paypal也不是,Amazon也不是).

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oh I meant the Guifan dictionary in Pleco. I only have one chinese-chinese dictionary in Pleco, but I suppose they may have more that I haven't purchased. Sorry for the confusion. 

 

On a related note - at what point would you recommend a student switch from using a chinese-english dictionary to primarily using a chinese-chinese dictionary? I've tried it on and off, and I'm definitely a lot slower because my chinese reading is slow, so I'm not sure if I should hold off until my reading improves? but on the other hand having to read dictionary entries in chinese would be helping my reading comprehension and speed anyway. 

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I finally managed to get the Guifan. Though it's off-topic, in case anyone's interested, the steps required for being able to make paypal payments from a Chinese bank account:

 

  1. Go into the bank and enable online banking 网上银行. My bank (中国银行) also 顺便 set up text alerts for whenever activity happens on my bank account - score!
  2. Go onto the bank's website, login and enable online card payments with your bank card.
  3. Set up a new paypal account - it needs to be a China-specific one for some reason (though they also warn that if you set it up in Chinese language, it can't be used for international transactions. Very odd). For me, this also required setting up a new email address, as they won't allow duplicate email addresses used for two paypal accounts.
  4. Add the card to the account.
  5. That's basically it, you're all set.

 

 

On a related note - at what point would you recommend a student switch from using a chinese-english dictionary to primarily using a chinese-chinese dictionary? I've tried it on and off, and I'm definitely a lot slower because my chinese reading is slow, so I'm not sure if I should hold off until my reading improves? but on the other hand having to read dictionary entries in chinese would be helping my reading comprehension and speed anyway.

 

Since making the switch I've been marvelling at how much better, more accurate and more comprehensive the explanations are in the Guifan than any C-E dictionary I've come across. It is slower (and sometimes I'll have to hop through multiple entries in a way akin to Wikipedia "link-hopping" in order to gain a full understanding), but I feel the understanding I gain in the end is a lot deeper than if I'd just been presented with a few options for English translations. I think that, plus the free reading practice it gives, will mean I'll try and aviod using C-E dictionaries if at all possible from now on. E-C dictionaries, on the other hand, certainly retain their usefulness.

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Since making the switch I've been marvelling at how much better, more accurate and more comprehensive the explanations are in the Guifan than any C-E dictionary I've come across

This is one of the major reasons I recommend a C-C dictionary as soon as the learner is capable.

 

so I'm not sure if I should hold off until my reading improves?

The best way to make your reading improve is to practice.  Reading will not magically just get better unless you are doing it.  The more you use a C-C dictionary, the easier it will get.

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