dict.cn dictionary

koreth

榜眼
I just came across the site "www.dict.cn" and I really like its thorough examples. Many of the words I looked up have five or more example sentences with English translations. It looks like a particularly fantastic resource for learning words that translate to roughly the same thing in English but are not used quite the same in Chinese.

For example, try looking up 检查 and 查看 and you will immediately, from the examples, infer that the former is used to describe closely examining a single thing, whereas the latter is used to describe larger-scale examination of an area or of multiple things. Those are two words that I've asked four or five native speakers to disambiguate, and none of them have been able to do it. Likewise 而且 and 并且 -- if I'd known about dict.cn six months ago I would have bugged far fewer of my Chinese friends about those two.

If Pleco could license the dictionary that site is using, wow, would that ever be useful. (So much so that I'm tempted to write a little code and go download MakePlecoDict, but much better to license it for real.)
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
The example sentences are very nice, yes, but I'm not sure that this is really something we'd want to license as opposed to developing ourselves; it would actually make an interesting Wiki-type project, people submit interesting sentences they find along with their translations and we cull them all together into a vast, free, easily-searchable database.

(more practically, given that they already have a website I doubt they'd want to let us develop a competing one with their data, and in general we're trying to avoid any new licenses that don't include online rights since things seem to be moving in that direction)
 

koreth

榜眼
Fair enough.

As for online being the direction things are going, I don't disagree in the long term, but for right now an online dictionary is of limited interest to me personally, at least in the contexts where I use PlecoDict. If nothing else, when I'm traveling around in China, I don't always expect to have lightning-fast mobile network connectivity, or sometimes even *any* network connectivity. Heck, even in the US, my phone can't get a reliable Internet connection a lot of the time.

I realize, of course, you aren't suggesting the existing dictionary is going to go away. But to the extent that new features show up exclusively on a web-based service, they may be useless to some percentage of the customer base.

That said, I'd be all for a wiki-ish dictionary site that could be exported to a PlecoDict dictionary. Presumably that would be no problem if you guys were to build the website yourselves, and is most likely exactly what you have in mind.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Oh, we wouldn't be doing anything online-only, at least not for a while; we just don't want to find ourselves fenced into a corner in a few years with an increasing percentage of our users being online-based and most of our licensed content still confined to our regular Palm/PPC/Windows software. A Wiki'd online dictionary would certainly be downloadable and usable offline with our software, indeed that would be a big part of the appeal for us of doing one.
 

mihobu

秀才
mikelove said:
it would actually make an interesting Wiki-type project, people submit interesting sentences they find along with their translations and we cull them all together into a vast, free, easily-searchable database.
I love this idea. I've struggled with how to maintain an easy-to-use reference for sentence patterns and usage examples. It looks like you can register and contribute to the dict.cn archive, so I wonder what a Pleco alternative would do that it doesn't? Does anyone have an idea of how comprehensive dict.cn's collection is? Is it open like a wiki? I think the wiki approach would be really great for this.
 

koreth

榜眼
Actually, looking around at that site, it seems like it might actually be something Pleco could just convert: it claims to have been started by, and is from what I can tell still run by, a bunch of Chinese exchange students as a public resource for other students who need language help. It doesn't seem to be a commercial venture.

Given that, they might be perfectly fine with someone just sucking down their database and making it available on PlecoDict. I bet more than a few of them are PD users themselves. They already have an API to programmatically pull down data without viewing any ads or anything.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Well if they were open to our offering it as a free add-on like Adso/CEDICT et al we'd certainly consider it. Wouldn't be a difficult conversion on our end, particularly not with that database API. But there are certainly some things we could add in our own version of this; aside from a database that was more readily downloadable and released under some standard license like CC or GDL, we could add a number of features to streamline the submission of new example sentences, and could also fall back on our paid/licensed dictionaries (and their attendant examples etc) as a more authoritative "core."
 

mihobu

秀才
From the standpoint of simply entering a search term and reviewing the results, dict.cn seems quite adequate. However, since the site appears to be geared toward native Chinese speakers learning English, it does not lend itself well to collaboration for native English speakers learning Chinese. Bring on the Wiki!
 

sfrrr

状元
A wiki is a great idea. To be able to import and integrate sentences and phrases into PlecoDict would certainly make my studying life easier. Does anyone know whether Chinesepod forum's wiki is importable into PD?

Sandra
 

mihobu

秀才
A Grammar and Usage Wiki?

After looking at the ChinesePod wiki (http://wiki.chinesepod.com), dict.cn, and the Chinese WikiBooks page (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Chinese) it seems like the ChinesePod site is the least useful (maybe that should be least organized). The content seems scattered and gives the appearance that it was left as an afterthought.

The WikiBooks site is nicely organized, but contains only very very basic information.

I like the content of dict.cn--I'm particularly interested in all the example sentences--but I wish it was more collaborative.

Maybe my expectations are way too high, but I'd like to have something where I can browse or search for grammar elements and explanations, examples of usage, fixed phrases, some discussion (limited to explanation of the content). When I'm wondering how the 除了…以外 construction is used, I'd like to be able to type it into the Wiki and get a page on the construction, when it's used, and some examples.

And can I have the moon and stars, too, please?
 

gato

状元
mihobu, what you are looking for is a online textbook. Obviously, a textbook is not going to be created by people who are learners themselves. But it could be done if one of the publishing companies decided to put its book online (e.g. New Practical Chinese Reader, Integrated Chinese, etc.). Those who are using the book could then add their annotations and so forth. Many online programming manuals allow for user annotations. I don't see any publisher of Chinese textbooks taking this route, though. There has to be an economic incentive for them to do so.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
I don't think it's a textbook so much as a collection of usage notes and examples, which could and indeed probably should be user-generated since there are so many little things that you'd never find in a printed book; there's something like usage question a day posted to chinese-forums.com that you wouldn't be able to find an answer to in any dictionary. Not something designed to replace a language course any more than Wikipedia is designed to replace European History 101, but something that would provide a central repository for all of the stuff you can't find in textbooks.
 

caesartg

榜眼
Mihobu

It might be worthwhile taking a look at the Sketch Engine. They take a corpus of a language (E.g. A collection of classical works, a collection of modern well-regarded published newspaper and magazine writings etc) and their software breaks the texts down into grammatical elements and provides a wealth of analysis that you can examine. For example, you can see how a particular object collocutes with a long list of prepositions. A fellow from Ming Chuan uni in Taipei was involved in trialling Chinese language corpora. It's rather techie but if you've a specific interest in the use of particular words or expressions, or even interested in comparing the usage of several words (it's got a pretty elaborate word-compare tool) then it's worthwhile fiddling with for a while (there's a 30 day trial period).

http://www.sketchengine.co.uk/


Cheers

Ben
 

delectric

Member
dict.cn is a really good dictionary I do hope it will be converted so it can be used in Pleco. But there's many other websites with lots of example sentences. Has anyone use the free Youdao dictionary? It does an online search and gives you lots of example sentences from many websites including dict.cn also the iciba.com website gives a much more thorough list of example sentences then dict.cn.

Really would be great to have a dictionary that gives lots of example sentences. Really for my level of Chinese I find Wiki a bit cumbersome at times. Sites like iciba.com and dict.cn provide lots of nice useful and often simple sentences.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Tuttle has a lot of example sentences, actually, though admittedly not that many entries. Wiktionary I'm not sure about, there's some interesting stuff there but it all seems kind of piecemeal at the moment - the reason so many free online dictionary projects are based on CEDICT is because CEDICT provides a core of definitions for most of the basic / essential words, which I don't get the sense Wiktionary does yet for Chinese.
 

delectric

Member
Just wondering how the project for getting the www.dict.cn website to make a dictionary for Pleco is going? Have they been contacted?

Sorry for pushing but I really do feel that this type of dictionary that gives lots of example sentences is really the missing link in Pleco. The Tuttle dictionary is not bad but it's a dictionary for beginners, while the many sentences that dict.cn gives really is more for intermediate and advanced students.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Haven't even approached them yet - it's pretty clear this would not be a free license, and we're not going to go after any new dictionary licenses at least until we've finished deploying the three (!) different dictionaries we've licensed but haven't released in Pleco yet. (or at least two of them - one of them isn't available in printed form yet either and in fact we haven't even received the finished data files for it, but we're so excited about it that we already licensed it in spite of that) Which probably means not until after the iPhone version is out at least. Example sentence support in general is something we're hoping to improve greatly in 2.1/3.0 (not only searching them specifically, but creating / adding your own and maybe even crawling the internet for new ones) so a license like this would fit in better with that anyway.
 

ipsi

状元
One is the Wiseman TCM Dictionary. I know of the second but I'm not sure if Mike's mentioned it publically yet. I have no idea about the third one. That's new to me :).
 
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