Cantonese dictionary request

Hi all,

Just a note to say that I would really, really love a Cantonese dictionary in PlecoDict with Yale (or any) romanization.

I accept that there just isn't a comprehensive Cantonese-English dictionary on the market, but there are a number of small ones that would still be worth having.

Is there any other demand for this?
If you could do a deal with CantoDict to get access to their database, i'd pay money to have a portable version of that.

This has been discussed before - I'd recommend doing a search for Cantonese Dictionary. I think that Pleco has tried, but no one is interested in licensing a dictionary, basically. Or possibly they think the market would be too small, but I think the major problem is no one wants to license a dictionary. :(
Sorry, I thought I did look for a previous thread, but must have imagined it. I agree it's been asked for a while, but I am not sure if anything was tried. I remember writing to Mike about it a couple of years back.

Still, perhaps if this thread garners enough views we can kick start the initiative. Perhaps if Pleco sent the Cantodict guy a Centro with PlecoDict on it, he'd find it so indispensable he'd port the db himself :D

From my small sample of western friends, I know quite a few that would buy PlecoDict because of it, so that should translate into a resonably large market opportunity.

There also seems to be a bit of a rennaissance of Gwailos speaking cantonese in HK/Guangzhou these day. Especially now that now that every man and his dog speaks mandarin :mrgreen:
Fair enough. I think porting CantoDict would be nice, if Pleco could manage it. Though I guess the only problem would be paying to license a product that's free to access online. But I've no idea of the problems they'd face. Would Cantodict object to it being sold? Who knows.
I'd like to see a Cantonese dict as well - not a language I'd study avidly, but it would certainly be helpful at times.

Cantodict is pretty clear about re-use. From their site:

CantoDict is updated by a team of volunteers but the copyright for the project is retained by Adam Sheik. This has been made clear to all the editors. What this means is that a company or individual cannot use the work without obtaining licensing permission, which would likely only be granted if they contributed financially towards the running of the host websites. I think that is entirely reasonable.
However, CantoDict will always be free for online use at

Looks like they don't want to lose the advertising revenues that allowing an offline edition would incur, but perhaps they'd change their mind if someone asked, or if Pleco actually licensed it and passed them some money.

Not sure if Jyutping or Cantonese tone marks represents a searching or display problem beyond that, but there's probably a bit of work involved there.......


Staff member
We talked to CantoDict about a license a while ago and they weren't interested - I think they might be considering eventually releasing their own offline product. The other dictionaries we've asked about have been similarly problematic; there aren't very many of them out there, some of them are so old that they don't even exist in electronic format, and of the few that do, most seem to be tied up in exclusive licenses with other companies. So we've pretty well given up on Cantonese at this point - there's not much hope of someone else launching another user-created Cantonese dictionary with CantoDict already out there, and I'm not sure if there's enough of a market for a publisher to consider launching a new commercial Cantonese dictionary.
thanks for the info Mike. I'm just registering my interest for a Cantonese dictionary just in case you need to prove that there is a market. Could there be a solution for a Cantonese dictionary but with no English: Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese. There have two paper based released fairly recently, in the last 5 years. So these two must be have produced with a computer.
I could supply you quickly with the address of one of them. The second one i have just bought in Hong Kong and is on his way via surface mail, I could also give you the info once I received it. They both have Putonghua and Cantonese characters info as well as IPA pronunciation and a fairly comprehensive explanation of usage.

Henry :|


Staff member
That's certainly a possibility, but we're waiting both on that and on a possible Classical-to-Modern Chinese dictionary until we see how the Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian sells - we don't yet know if there's enough of a market for Chinese-to-Chinese dictionaries to justify offering more than one.


Staff member
dustpuppy said:
Hello, are there any updates regarding a cantonese dictionary in pleco ? There are still NO cantonese dictionaries in the app store :(
Making little bits of progress on several licensing fronts, but nothing definitive yet.