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The Best (Online) Chinese Dictionary – Reblog from Hotpot

9 Mar

Here’s a re-post from another great China blog – City Hotpot. This is my first reblog, so apologies for any repeat information. I’ve just started using Nciku.com as well, but it seems to be a great resource. Check it out!

Hotpot

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If you’re learning Chinese, this is by far the best dictionary I’ve found: www.nciku.com. Here’s a brief overview of why and how you can use NCIKU as a great reference tool and resource in helping you to learn Chinese.

Why It’s the Best  

  • English-to-Chinese translation.  If you type in the word, “restaurant,” for example, NCIKU will give you just what you need to know in a clear and easy to read fashion: the characters of the word in Chinese, how to pronounce the characters, and the context of how the word is used in sentences. (NCIKU is also an excellent Chinese-English dictionary.  However, for this article, I’m going to focus on NCIKU for people who are learning Chinese.

Preview of “restaurant in Chinese, restaurant translation by Nciku Chinese Dictionary” copy

  • Most popular word in everyday usage is listed first.  Sometimes, there may be more than one translation of a word. NCIKU gives you a brief definition of each…

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How to type Pīnyīn tone marks on a Mac

28 Jan

See what I did in the title? Pretty great, huh?

Yeah, I’m pretty proud of myself. Pīnyīn is helpful to know for representing characters, but sometimes you need to actually type the pīnyīn tone marks. And it turns out that there’s an easy way to do that!

Not that I really figured it out – credit actually goes to this guy’s page. If you’re good with reading, then you can just go to his page. But for those of us who like pictures, the picture process is below.

Open “System Preferences” and click on “Language and Text”.

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From there, open the fourth tab, named “Input Sources”.

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Scroll down the left-hand column until you reach “U.S. Extended”. Tick the box and untick “U.S.” (You could keep U.S., but I haven’t found a reason too. All of the keys are the same, just plus some extra.)

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Go to the little flag in the upper-right corner, and scroll to select it if necessary.

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And you’re good to go! The shortcuts for the tone marks are as follows:

Again taken from the Self-Learner.com page:

”  Tone 1 (flat) mā – Option + a, then hit a vowel key
Tone 2 (rising) má – Option + e, then hit a vowel key
Tone 3 (falling-rising) mǎ – Option + v, then hit a vowel key
Tone 4 (falling) mà – Option + `, then hit a vowel key

ǚ – Option + V, then hit V
ǜ – Option + `, then hit V  ”

Update: Also Option + u , then u will give you ü.

When you use these shortcuts, you get the little tone mark floating above where the vowels is going to be. Release both Option + _, then select your vowel. For example, in order to get the ī in Pī, I would type Option + a, then release both the keys and select i.

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Ta-da! It takes some getting used too – right now it takes me a ridiculously long time to type a single pīnyīn word – but I’m thinking that practice will make perfect. Many thanks to Self-learner.com! If you have time, check it out. It’s an extremely cool blog/resource that covers everything from traveling light to writing your own textbook. And even better, he’s studying Chinese as well.

Hope this came in handy – edits and additional tips are welcome.

How to type in Chinese on a MacBook Pro (with pictures!)

27 Jan

My laptop is pretty much my constant companion, so I’ll be posting a lot about computers. First things first: how do you type in Chinese?

I’ve finally gotten to a point where I need to search in Baidu or Google, or type brief passages. Up till now, my use of actual characters has been infrequent enough that I’ve mostly just plugged pinyin into a translator and copy-pasted. I decided this morning that wasn’t going to cut it anymore, so I decided to configure a Pinyin keyboard on my Macbook.

An easy two-minute thing, right? Wrong. So wrong. At least for this renowned techie.

The first thing I consulted, as usual, was Google. I must’ve checked almost a dozen Yahoo! Answers, but couldn’t find anything for the Macbook Pro, or at least whatever version I have. After almost 20 minutes, I gave up and decided to actually use my brain to figure it out.

Apple is pretty friendly and the labels are pretty clear, but it still took me quite a bit to get through this whole process. Below is my edited step-by-step. I’ve cut out my dead ends and missteps, so you don’t have to go through the irritation I did. Hope this comes in handy!

I began by opening “System Preferences”, because basically everything is there. Having found nothing too helpful online, I just decided to scan the options for something likely.

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And I found “Language and Text” in the first row. Jolly good.

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On a roll, right? My double-click sent me straight to the page pictured below, with a column on the left-hand side with all of these different languages. I scrolled down to find “简体中文“, and dragged it up after “English”. Problem solved!

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Nope. I opened Word and attempted to type “你好“, but remained stuck with my boring English letters. Bah. Back to “Language and Text”.

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After randomly clicking for a bit, I saw the fourth tab on the “Language and Text” page, marked “Input Sources”. Yes.

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In the left column, there’s an option marked “Chinese-Simplified”. I ticked the box (which also ticked all the sub-options) and congratulated myself.

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Yeah, not quite.

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Luckily, I’ve seen a friend toggle between keyboards, so I had the idea to look for a little flag. And there it was, in the upper right hand corner. I scrolled down to “Pinyin-Simplified” (the one most English speakers want). I clicked on it, and my mini-American flag turned into “拼”.

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I opened my Word doc with bated breath. Yes! Success! I typed my first Chinese characters. Woohoo!

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You can switch back to English using the same flag/character (it changes) icon. There’s probably some kind of shortcut that would allow you to toggle between keyboards – will definitely follow-up on that. Press the number to select the character you want, and it appears magically on the screen.

(Update for shortcut: Go to “Language and Text” -> “Input Sources” tab again, then click the button “Keyboard Shortcuts” in the upper right box. The third option is “Keyboard and Text” in the left column. Click on that, scroll to the bottom, and check the box for “Select previous input source”. You may have to uncheck another shortcut if you’re already using the Command-Space one.)

And there you have it! Hopefully this helped someone out. I’m no computer expert, but feel free to post a question if you’re still having problems.

Next task is to figure out how to text in Chinese, which I think will prove handy for practice. Entry coming soon! And on the topic of iPhones, here’s another thing I didn’t know. Pressing the minus button on a iPhone (you know, for volume) takes a picture if you have Camera open. Seriously, does anyone know that?