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SmartHanzi

Chinese etymology in SmartHanzi

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SmartHanzi

SmartHanzi is a free application available on Google Play, App Store, Mac App Store and for Windows 7/8/10 here

 

It includes dictionaries (CEDICT, CFDict, HanDeDict), etymology, a text reader and HSK training.

 

All editions are not yet at the same level but they are reaching a point where it is easier - or less difficult - to put them in line, improve UI and add new features consistently.

 

SmartHanzi includes two sources for etymology:

1) Some editions include references to "Chinese characters - Their origin, etymology, history, classification and signification" by Dr. L. Wieger, S.J.

2) All editions include data from the former Kanji Networks website by Lawrence Howell and Hikaru Morimoto: etymology of 6000+ characters.

 

Both sources do not have the same approach. Wieger's book was first published in 1899 (French) and 1915 (English). It is based on the "Shuowen jiezi" (说文解字/說文解字) published around 120 CE, a classical reference in China. It does not include the 20th and 21st century discoveries and therefore is technically wrong in many respects. However, based on the Shuowen Jiezi, it reflects the Chinese tradition and culture. It is what many Chinese know about their writing.

 

There is definitely a need for research about the real origin and development of Chinese characters. Howell and others like Axel Schuessler contribute to this research. I am not qualified to elaborate further.

 

For most students, whether the etymology is real or just traditional does not matter. The point is to have mnemonics and memorize characters: Se non è vero, è ben trovato (Italian saying). Consciously or not, Chinese children learn a lot of etymology at school and at home.


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Amazon links

Wieger:                         Chinese characters - Their origin, etymology, history, classification and signification

Axel Schuessler's       ABC Etymological dictionary of old Chinese

Wang Hongyuan        Aux sources de l’écriture chinoise   -   The origins of Chinese characters

 

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Luxi

It's really nice, thanks! The Windows version installed without problems in the latest Windows 10 and works very smoothly. Looks like a very safe program (no advertising or trojans) and it's nice to have a PC option.

There's a lot to explore in the Windows version,  at first glance I very much like the link to Kanji networks, which I don't think is available on the web any more. I'm also thrilled with the cursive fonts, just what I need to force myself to learn reading cursive. 

 

BTW, I still revere Wieger, it was my go to place in the olden days before the internet. 

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Tomsima
14 hours ago, Luxi said:

 I'm also thrilled with the cursive fonts,

 

I just downloaded the pc version to check out the cursive fonts, but cant seem to find them anywhere, no buttons, settings, not in the font list, am I missing something?

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SmartHanzi

I am not sure of what is meant by "cursive fonts":
- There is a choice to display simplified or traditional variants (toolbar and menu).
- Menu only: Options > Chinese font = choose the preferred Chinese font, e.g. KaiTi among those installed on the PC.

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Luxi
10 hours ago, Tomsima said:

pc version to check out the cursive fonts

 

How about STXingkai (in fonts list from Options)

1120713120_SmartHanzi09_02_20199_46_25.thumb.png.b12db851574a578872dd08e14783e3b2.png

 

Perhaps they're not 'cursive' enough for you, but for someone at my level of ignorance... Actually, this font doesn't seem to work well with full form. 

 

ETA: The name in the Windows fonts folder is STXINGKA.TTF...it could be a font that came with other software, or one I downloaded from somewhere. The font metadata says it's by Changzhou SinoType Technology Co (1991-1998)

...but then you have the method: find your fav cursive font, install and go :)

 

https://chinesefontdesign.com/tag/semi-cursive-script-chinese-font

 

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Tomsima

oh, got you. I was thinking it had a searchable 草書 database built in, which would be so, so good. Cursive fonts are still good though, thanks for sharing the link

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Luxi
19 hours ago, Tomsima said:

I was thinking it had a searchable 草書 database built in, which would be so, so good.

 

You already have it, if you install cursive fonts in your device   :). Even Notepad can 

 

673067567_fontstrick.thumb.jpg.602f73dd28032f2324c57c91c126d8e5.jpg

 

 

@SmartHanzi   the reason I was thrilled by being able to use hand-written like fonts in your reader is it enables me to read a text in a font approaching 草书 and use the dictionary to pick up the characters I don´t understand (most of them in some fonts) - a good way of training. I can change fonts in many Windows programs but have to go back and forth to find the meaning of specific characters.

 

I like your reader very much, thanks for it!

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LawrenceHowell

Back in the late '80s, shortly after taking an interest in the characters, I was browsing in a bookstore and came across a copy of Wieger's work. Novice that I was with respect not only to the characters but also to contemporary scholarship, I had no way of judging the merits or even potential utility of the material my brain was slowly processing. Judging solely from the date of the original French and initial English versions, I had reason to believe the scholarship was badly dated, but I set aside my qualms and walked out of the store with my library expanded by one Dover trade paperback title. (And no, I didn't filch it!)

 

Back at home, after spending several hours and a few cups of coffee with Wieger's book, I had learned three important things. First, many of the explanations made for interesting reading, with some offering effective mnemonics. Second, in tiny increments, I could sense I was gaining the first faint insights into how Chinese culture is seen from the inside. In contrast, the third discovery was that, valuable though points 1) and 2) were, the contents were not going to suit my purpose. I kept the book for several years, but ended up donating it to a public library.

 

What was my purpose? To understand the logic behind the process or processes according to which any specific character was assigned the meanings it bears, or once bore.

 

Of course, dealing with such an old language, I knew from the outset that the process(es) might have already been lost in the sands of history, but I wanted to determine that for myself.

 

I could see that what Wieger offered with respect to what he called the “primitives” was not going to yield the answers I sought. For example, his explanation about 王 sheds little light upon the respective meanings borne by characters in which 王 is the phonetic element, such as 匡 汪 旺 or 枉.

 

That isn't to fault Wieger, whose primary intent (I believe) was to make knowledge of the Chinese tradition concerning the characters available to a wider audience. It's just that I was looking for something different. In any event, what is important in this context is that, for the reasons he states, Jean Soulat performs a valuable service by presenting “Chinese characters - Their origin, etymology, history, classification and signification" in various of his editions of SmartHanzi.

 

As for Jean's incorporation of my own etymological material, I will note as follows. Several years ago, I decided to shut down the online dictionary site I had been running. For the first ten years the dicitionary was up I focused on use of the characters in Japanese. Toward the end, however, I established a parallel set of data accounting for the meanings the characters bear in Mandarin (Standard Chinese). If memory serves, Jean and I came into contact during that period.

 

When I closed the site, Jean asked permission to adapt my data for use in SmartHanzi, and I readily assented.

 

And so it happens that a Jesuit missionary finds his work sharing space on a virtual bookshelf with a heretical autodidact in Han/Chinese lexicography. Strange bedfellows indeed.

 

Keep up the good work, Jean!

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SmartHanzi

SmartHanzi Lite translates Chinese words in web pages on the fly.

 

SmartHanzi Lite is a Safari extension. By comparison with the more powerful usual SmartHanzi, the lite version is restricted to HTML documents and just shows the pronunciation and basic meanings. But it has the major benefit of not needing "copy and paste". This is especially convenient for users working with numerous HTML documents, e.g. webmail.

 

Translations show directly in a popup over the web page. All words recognized at the mouse position are listed.

 

Supported dictionaries:

- CEDICT (English).

- CFDict (français).

- HanDeDict (deutsche).

- DDB (Digital Dictionary of Buddhism, short definitions only).

 

Settings can be changed directly from Safari:

- Choose preferred dictionary.

- Temporarily disable/enable extension.

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SmartHanzi

Oupsss!

 

SmartHanzi Lite is for Safari Mac. Free on Mac App Store.

 

121809952_Forbiddencity.thumb.jpg.8426de6709492737b561557ebc8e4f1a.jpg

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