jealous markup
Software and language, mostly

PC speak Chinese

March 29, 2015 Software Chinese

I’ve explored and collected a wealth of links to online resources as I was working on Zydeo. I hope you’ll find some of these pointers useful; I get the personal benefit of keeping them organized here for my own future reference.

This post contains relatively non-geeky stuff such as fonts, dictionaries and translated example sentences. Make sure you check out its follow-up, PC speak Chinese #2, where it gets more funky with character recognition, frequency lists, stroke order animations and creating new characters out of thin air.


Zydeo is all about typography, and the font I’m using to display results was probably the one area that received the greatest share of my attention. Whether or not you’re developing a dictionary yourself, having the right font at hand to write Chinese may be equally important to you. I have a few posts about fonts right here on this blog (you can find them under the Fonts tag). As for Chinese fonts on the Internets:

Free dictionaries

No, I don’t mean the kinds that you can actually use to look up words. I mean the three open-source, community-edited projects that underly practically every dictionary site, tool and app that you can use or download for free. The mother of them all is EDICT, the Japanese-English dictionary started in 1991 by Jim Breen. This is the project that inspired CEDICT, which in turn inspired the Chinese-German and French-German counterparts.

Example sentences

With any dictionary I find short usage examples and entire sentences extremely useful; often such examples are in fact sneaky ways of presenting collocations or grammatical information about headwords. CC-CEDICT’s format is extremely simple, which is a good thing because it allows a potentially very large group of people that are not lexicographers to contribute using only a text editor. Unfortunately, such a simple format does not allow complications like examples of use. So one of the things I’m looking at is to enhance Zydeo by linking in external sources of translated sentences. Here’s what I have found while looking for such sources.