Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
OneEye

Outlier Linguistic Solutions

Recommended Posts

OneEye

Now there's a good question. That's a joke between me and a friend which seems to have made its way onto my profile, maybe copy/pasted accidentally from something else. Thanks for pointing it out! Fixed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

OneEye

There's a little sneak peek of the dictionary on our mailing list signup page. We'll have an interactive demo of the dictionary available on our website when we launch the Indiegogo campaign in April.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xiaokaka

Wow, it looks exactly like I had hoped it would! ☺️ (And that it will be available for sale through my favorite dictionary app!)

Edit: Do you know approximately how many characters it will include? And what the release date might be.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye

It will initially include 2000 characters, then we'll expand it to 3500 in an update. We'd like to do another 2500 after that, but we want to do a kanji version for Japanese learners first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye

We're getting very close to launching our Kickstarter. I know I've been saying that for months, but I can finally count the days on my fingers.

 

We spent some time chatting with Dr. David Moser recently about our project and showed him the demo. You might know him from his famous article "Why Chinese is So Damn Hard," as a frequent guest on the Sinica podcast, or as the Academic Director at CET Beijing. He's very excited about the project, and sent us a video with his thoughts about it. He called our dictionary "the wave of the future," and "the next stage in the study of Chinese characters, and maybe even the next stage in the digitizing of Sinology itself."

 

Here it is on YouTube, and on Vimeo for those who can't access YouTube.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

Feedback completely unrelated to the dictionary - put a small black outline around white subtitles so it's still easy to read them against a white background (e.g. Dr. Moser's shirt).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tysond

Look forward to it!  

 

I will support your kickstarter.  Sad, but also glad, that you are progressing faster than my studies!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye

Thanks for the feedback, imron. I'll try that and see how it looks.

 

Thanks, tysond! Tell your friends too. We can use all the help we can get spreading the word!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
vellocet

How much benefit would I, an adult learner who lives on the mainland, get from this product? 

 

I am always on the lookout for a new, innovative dictionary as I feel that current dictionaries mostly suck.  However, from what I've read so far, this product seems very oriented towards the professional academic. 

 

Example: "A common piece of advice to learners of Chinese is that you need to know which of the traditional six categories [六書, Liùshū; the Six Ways of Writing] a given character belongs to."  I've never heard of this advice despite studying on and off for four years.  Is it really as common as is stated here?  I'm sure if you're a linguist than perhaps it's common, but to us commoners learning Chinese for our daily lives, I'm not sure how applicable this is. 

 

I just get the idea that this is by academics, for other academics.  The assumption seems to be that the learner wants complete fluency in all areas.  I would be quite happy to be able to read a newspaper and to run my life.  I'm not looking to read literature or argue about politics, but I have a hunch that that's the unspoken assumption here.  I am learning Chinese to give me extra abilities, while academics are learning Chinese so that they can learn more Chinese. 

 

One of the things I like about Pleco is that there is an option to completely disable traditional characters in the user interface.  I don't use them, and they distract me from learning.  I believe the concept is called "interference"?  A linguist would know what I'm talking about.  It's unrelated information when you're trying to learn something.  I realize that the One True Chinese[tm] is traditional, and being Taiwan-based you're going to be biased towards it, but for learners like me it's just not something that we find any value in spending precious study time learning.  Simplified characters are quite difficult enough already, thanks. 

 

Nonetheless I will likely still purchase your product when it makes it out of kickstarter and into retail, as there is such a lack of other material available that it still will be the best.  I guess the question I'm asking is "who is the product's intended audience, and are Chinese learners like me a part of it?"

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
realmayo

Probably like learning Latin/Greek to help with English words, not necessary, but nice for advanced learners or for beginners who like to know they've got very detailed information at their fingertips whenever they might possibly need it. 

 

Knowing whether the 月 as component in a character brings the notion of 'moon' or 'meat' never bothered me when I was breaking the back of memorising Chinese characters. In fact it would probably have been a hindrance, not a help.

 

But nowadays, where there are characters I sometimes forget or mix up, having that extra depth of back-history might be the extra slug of info I need to make the thing stick in my mind better.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing more of what the product looks like, it will be hard to resist buying it!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye

vellocet,

 

Those are really good questions. First off, yes, you are part of (one of) our intended audience(s). In fact, the way you describe yourself is pretty much exactly in line with the way we've talked about our ideal "Essentials Edition" customer. More on that in a sec.

 

We've found ourselves having to straddle a line between appealing to academics and appealing to people who don't care about the academic stuff and just want to learn characters more efficiently and get on with their lives. To the former, we need to demonstrate that this is a well-researched tool, not just another face in the crowd. To the latter, we need to show that we're not going to waste your time with a bunch of extraneous, esoteric information that you don't really care about. So far, we've mostly focused on the academic crowd on our blog. Our idea was that if profs get excited about this, they'll tell their students, etc.

 

But of course, most people learning Chinese don't really care about the ancient forms of the characters, or all the nerdy details that we love so much.

 

So our solution is to release two versions of the dictionary. The Essentials Edition and the Expert Edition. The Essentials Edition contains just what you need to know to master a character and retain it long term, while reinforcing a correct understanding of how Chinese characters work. We've focused on not overburdening the learner with information here. What are the components of this character, and how do they function? What does it mean? What is the relationship between the character's various meanings (for instance, the relationship between 立 meaning stand and 立 in 立刻 meaning immediately)? The basics (the "essentials"), but presented in a clear, concise, and correct way that has never been done before. The customer we had in mind for this product is the guy who just wants to get literate in Chinese so he can move to China and start working or doing business there. And of course, this will likely be our core market. Anyway, in the demo, this is all the information above the button that says "For Experts Only." That's tongue in cheek, of course. Anyone can use the Expert Edition.

 

The Expert Edition contains all the academic stuff. It contains everything in the Essentials Edition, plus pictures of ancient characters, tidbits about historical phonology, all that stuff. This is the version for people who are into all this stuff. Academics, language nerds, HAM radio enthusiasts (we mean that in a good way — Ash's MS was in electromagnetic wave propagation). People who want all the details. P.S.: the Expert section is collapsible, so if you want the info available but don't want it always in your face, you can hide it.

 

Either version can be used for simplified or traditional characters. We do have a personal bias for traditional characters — only a slight one — but we've remained "character set-agnostic" for the dictionary. We know that simplified is what most people want, and we're certainly not going skimp in that area. When the demo comes out (just hours away!), you'll see how we're dealing with the simp/trad issue. It's not set in stone — well be working with *distributor* and consulting experts on how to lay everything out in the most advantageous way possible for the final product, and we're definitely looking for feedback after people have used the demo. But if you want simplified, the only time you'll have to look at a traditional character is when it's necessary to explain why a character looks the way it does. For instance: why are there two vertical lines in 监? Because in cursive, the 臣 in 監 is abbreviated with two vertical lines. You don't have to remember that, of course, but with "weird" forms like that, it's good to know that there's a good, logical reason for it being written that way.

 

Anyway, I tend to just type and type, so I'll end it here. Once we launch and you're able to use the demo and get a feel for it, I'd love to hear your thoughts. We want to make this thing as useful as possible for you.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye

realmayo,

 

Don't resist!  :mrgreen:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
I've never heard of this advice despite studying on and off for four years.  Is it really as common as is stated here?

You might have heard of it, just not called by that name - for example, some characters look like what they are supposed to be e.g. 日 sun, 月 moon, 山 mountain, whereas other characters are made up of two or more components put together e.g.   林 - forest, whereas other characters are made up of a phonetic component and a semantic component e.g. 拍 - clap, made up of 扌(hand) and 白 (white, but gives up a phonetic hint bai vs pai).

 

There are 6 general categories that any given character will fall in to, and that's what is meant by the 六书.  Most learners at some time will have come across this concept, even if they don't know the specific name for it.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye

And we've launched our Kickstarter!

 

Our dictionary will be released through Pleco! I can finally say it!

 

Some very cool rewards available, including a poster featuring calligraphy by Harvey Dam, aka Chinese--forums' very own Hofmann.

 

Make sure to try out the demo and let us know what you think. And of course, please tell anyone you know who might be interested!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xiaokaka

Looks really nice!

 

However I can't get the demo to load. I've tried to open it with safari on iOS (iphone and ipad; both the ordinary and projects.invisionapp.com page), and with safari and firefox on OSX. 

 

I'm in China without a VPN.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye

Oh, that's a problem. We'll get on it and see if we can figure it out. Sorry!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stapler

I had a look at the demo and I'm not sure your dictionary offers something I would consider purchasing. I can see that it is 'new' in the sense that it brings together a lot of information into one place. But I'm not sure that aggregation of information is worth paying for. All the character breakdowns given by say characterpop.com or even Skritter already make it fairly easy to work out what is the semantic and what is the phonetic component in the semantic-phonetic characters (which of course most characters are). Information about the pictograms, ideograms, etc can  be found on chineseetymology.org. Your dictionary also doesn't have the infinitely useful classifications of characters that come with the ABC dictionary which tells us which characters are bound, which are verbs, which are written only forms, etc.  I did however like your dictionary's discussion of how 各 came to represent some odd phonetics. But this was perhaps more of an historical insight rather than something that will help me understand characters in their modern usage. In fact this is probably the root of the reason why I don't think this dictionary would be useful for me. I estimate I know around 3000 characters (studying both simplified and traditional forms at the same time). And at this point I've already learnt intuitively that 各 is a phonetic for "lu" and "ge" and that those two lines in 监 is the short form for 臣. If I was just beginning the learn Chinese characters I think this dictionary may be useful, helping me to think about the characters systematically rather than just random collections of squiggly lines. But whenever I encounter a new character now I almost always automatically parse it systematically.

 

Anyway, I wish you best of luck getting your kickstart up!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye

Thanks for the comments!

 

I don't want to badmouth other products out there, but I can say that the stuff you mentioned contains a significant amount of inaccurate information about character etymology. Whether that extra level of correctness is worth the money to you or not is, of course, a personal decision. But we'd love feedback from you about what sort of content would make this more appealing to you, whether you decide to back the Kickstarter or not! You can PM me with any suggestions.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye

We have a temporary workaround for the problem mentioned by xiaokaka in #75 above. If you're having trouble getting the demo to work, you can download it here. After it unzips, open index.html and you should be able to use it. Let me know if there are any problems!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pross
Questions from a non-expert:

 

How will you recommend beginners go about using your dictionary for learning? While it is true other component-based approaches (e.g. Heisig; Matthews) neglect character etymology, they do introduce components and characters in a progressive way.

 

You also mentioned a forthcoming journal article describing functional components. I hope it was accepted. Can you share the title and venue?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...