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NinKenDo

What is a good software dictionary/reference for 文言文?

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NinKenDo

Hey guys, I'm in the last year of my diploma of Chinese, and they've decided to have us do a semester on reading 文言文 compositions. You know, some excerpted classics, poems, etc. The main source we'll be using is 'Gateway to the Chinese classics' if anyone is interested.

 

Anyway, I've been using Wenlin as my main Chinese dictionary. I've got all the Add-On dictionaries, including the 'ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese' and the 'ABC Dictionary of Chinese Proverbs' which I expect will help me a lot in this new endeavour. However I would like to know if anybody has other suggestions for good software packages I can use? 文言文 is one of those things where meanings can be pretty ephemeral and I find some of the meaning explanations in the 'ABC EDOC' a little lacking in guiding me through these ambiguities, as it seems more concerned (unsurprisingly) with etymology and sound reconstruction.

 

Thanks guys.

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TheWind

I just downloaded a new app, linguee, it seems to be quite thorough & can be used for a few languages (just download the dictionaries). but the feature I like most is that it gives in depth examples for multiple circumstances in which you may use the word

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mouse

Yeah all you need is pleco. And I second Kroll’s Dictionary; a very useful resource despite Kroll’s tendency to use obscure and obsolete words. Oh and, it’s not free, but the 汉语大辞典 (on pleco) would also be very useful. Often you’ll find the example sentence comes from the very material you’re studying.

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NinKenDo

Thanks guys. I've grabbed the SDCMC through Pleco. TBH I hate having my dictionary tied to my phone though. I do the majority of my card creation through my computer, so having the dictionary on another device is a serious pain. I know you can run an emulator, but I don't want to buy the same dictionaries and features twice just so I can run two devices. I'm also not a huge fan of the way Pleco lays out definitions.

 

Great dictionary though, and easy to search through Pleco.

 

Does anybody have any more suggestions?

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mouse
1 hour ago, NinKenDo said:

Does anybody have any more suggestions?

 

Use a universal clipboard.

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mikelove
7 hours ago, NinKenDo said:

I'm also not a huge fan of the way Pleco lays out definitions.

Can you be any more specific about that? (we're adding a lot of new options in that area in our next major update and hopefully there'll be a way to configure them more to your liking)

 

7 hours ago, NinKenDo said:

I know you can run an emulator, but I don't want to buy the same dictionaries and features twice just so I can run two devices.

If you have a Mac we are planning to support those in the not *too* distant future via Apple's "Project Catalyst" - hopefully this coming June the second version of that will be solid enough that we can build an app around it. (the first one... wasn't, plus Apple just screwed everybody who supported it already just last week by belatedly adding the ability for Mac/iOS apps to share app IDs and we'd like to reduce the odds of something similar happening to us)

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NinKenDo

Apparently there is an online edition of SDCMC, but like any academic work it's bloody expensive, and I have very little money. Does anybody have any idea if the online edition is any good? For instance, is it even possible to copy-paste from it? Does it feature any search capabilities? None of that is clear before paying, so if someone is studying or working at an institution that has access, could you have a look for me?

 

https://chinesereferenceshelf.brillonline.com/chinese-english

 

On 2/10/2020 at 3:20 PM, mikelove said:
On 2/10/2020 at 7:46 AM, NinKenDo said:

I'm also not a huge fan of the way Pleco lays out definitions.

Can you be any more specific about that? (we're adding a lot of new options in that area in our next major update and hopefully there'll be a way to configure them more to your liking)

 

I guess it's a little hard for me to describe. But I just feel like when I use Pleco I do an awful lot of scrolling, and everything feels oddly compressed and yet at the same time empty. It's hard to describe, it may simply be a problem of the phone form factor, I'm not sure.

 

On 2/10/2020 at 3:20 PM, mikelove said:
On 2/10/2020 at 7:46 AM, NinKenDo said:

I know you can run an emulator, but I don't want to buy the same dictionaries and features twice just so I can run two devices.

If you have a Mac we are planning to support those in the not *too* distant future via Apple's "Project Catalyst" - hopefully this coming June the second version of that will be solid enough that we can build an app around it. (the first one... wasn't, plus Apple just screwed everybody who supported it already just last week by belatedly adding the ability for Mac/iOS apps to share app IDs and we'd like to reduce the odds of something similar happening to us)

 

Unfortunately I do not have a Mac, and in fact I'm on Linux, so I can't even use Bluestacks, not that I enjoyed doing so much back in the day. I wish you guys would consider a true desktop port at some stage. I feel like the main Chinese digital-dictionary being mobile only is like a weight around my studies' neck, not that I don't appreciate all your amazing work or anything.

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Tomsima
9 minutes ago, NinKenDo said:

I feel like the main Chinese digital-dictionary being mobile only is like a weight around my studies' neck, not that I don't appreciate all your amazing work or anything.

 

I second this statement in its entirety

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mikelove
6 hours ago, NinKenDo said:

I guess it's a little hard for me to describe. But I just feel like when I use Pleco I do an awful lot of scrolling, and everything feels oddly compressed and yet at the same time empty. It's hard to describe, it may simply be a problem of the phone form factor, I'm not sure.

 

Thanks. I kind of get a bit of that feeling myself sometimes, actually, just haven't managed to figure out a way to do better while still offering as much information as we do on a phone; frankly it was a lot easier back in the days when we only offered 2 dictionaries 🙂

 

6 hours ago, NinKenDo said:

I wish you guys would consider a true desktop port at some stage. I feel like the main Chinese digital-dictionary being mobile only is like a weight around my studies' neck, not that I don't appreciate all your amazing work or anything.

 

The big problem there is that we haven't come up with a good way to pay for it yet; our previous ports were all financially justified by all of the new users they would bring in who we couldn't reach without supporting their platforms, but nowadays, almost everybody has an iOS or Android device that can run Pleco, so there are a lot fewer potential new users from a desktop port. And people have been conditioned to expect that digital purchases will be usable on every device they own; even our most enthusiastic customers have balked at the idea of paying again for dictionaries they already bought from us just to get them on a desktop, which on the one hand is a totally reasonable perspective (you bought the book and you should own it just like a printed book) but on the other hand leaves us with much less potential revenue from a desktop port.

 

Basically our choices are:

  1. Charge full price for the desktop version anyway, deal with the grumbling, and hope that enough of the people grumbling nevertheless fork over the money to make it worthwhile (and that the lack of platform portability doesn't hurt sales of our dictionaries on mobile).
  2. Find some way of charging less money for the desktop version while still charging something; this is dicey because if we're charging you to access a dictionary on a new platform (even if it's a fixed 'desktop version activation fee') then we also have to pay royalties on it, and so 'less' ends up not being all that much less.
    We could offer a free 'Pleco Dictionary Viewer' app on desktops with access to all of your purchased dictionaries but make anything more than rudimentary dictionary viewing / search functionality a paid add-on ("Pleco Plus" or some such), but that's going to cause a lot of confusion, and people used to our mobile pricing may not be ready to pay say $40 just to get basic functionality back like searching more than one dictionary at the same time.
    (I don't think there's much of a market for flashcard / OCR / handwriting recognizer add-ons on desktop - even stroke order is a tough sell when you can get it so easily on the web - so a lot would be riding on how much we could charge for the basic dictionary app, since that and the document reader are all most people would want)
  3. Switch to a subscription model on desktops (possibly in conjunction with rolling out a web version and/or sync service which even mobile users could subscribe to), so that nobody minds the fact that they can't migrate their purchases because we don't even offer permanent licenses on desktops; the problem there is that users hate subscriptions, plus it's hard to square with our current a la carte dictionary sales model (do we charge you $5/year for access to dictionary X? do we charge you a large sum of money for access to all of the dictionaries [but then how do we allocate royalties / how many months do I have to spend renegotiating license agreements?], etc).
  4. Keep totally free platform transfers as we have now, but launch a Pleco For Windows Kickstarter (somewhere in the low six figures, I would think) and hope that enough people either donate with no reward or pay again for a superfluous second copy of Pleco (or pay for something silly like a T-shirt or an autographed printed copy of the Pleco instruction manual) to raise the money we need to cover the cost of an otherwise-not-particularly-lucrative desktop port.

EDIT: I should also note here that for much of the last decade it looked like traditional desktops were on the way out / going to be replaced by tablets; it's really only in the last year or two that we've reached widespread consensus that that isn't going to happen (and indeed if Apple had figured out how to make a decent multitasking UI and/or Amazon had swallowed their pride and shipped Kindle Fires with Google Play it might have happened after all). If I'd known in 2011 that people would still be asking for a Windows version of Pleco in 2020 I'd have managed a lot of pieces of our pricing model / content licensing / etc very differently.

 

EDIT #2: a major downside of the Kickstarter idea is that I'm pretty terrible at release dates even by Kickstarter standards, and so I'd have to either set the expected delivery date sometime in the mid 2030s or deal with years of Kickstarter Apology Hell.

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mouse
8 hours ago, NinKenDo said:

For instance, is it even possible to copy-paste from it? Does it feature any search capabilities?

 

Yes to both. It seems like a waste of money to buy the dictionary twice. Can you not use a clipboard manager?

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NinKenDo
6 hours ago, mouse said:
15 hours ago, NinKenDo said:

For instance, is it even possible to copy-paste from it? Does it feature any search capabilities?

 

Yes to both. It seems like a waste of money to buy the dictionary twice. Can you not use a clipboard manager?

 

Maybe, although running Arch this might not be a small undertaking. The real pain point in the whole "phone dictionary" thing is having to pause, pick up my phone, open the dictionary app, blah blah, and that's assuming I don't have to unlock it each time. The copy pasting vs just typing the text is not the biggest concern (although obviously it's a factor). I usually manually type stuff from Wenlin becuase it's faster that moving the cursor around anyway (I'm a fast typer).

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