Sunday, March 20, 2011

Free Chinese dictionary apps: Pleco

Parent blog entry: http://kenamored.blogspot.com/2011/03/free-chinese-dictionary-apps.html

PROS:
  • By default uses different colors to represent the 5 possible tones; colors can be turned off or configured. I'm trying red (1st tone), blue (2nd tone), green (3rd tone), purple (4th tone), gray (neutral tone), roughly following the red-yellow-blue-green-orange-purple-brown-black order of my Crayola crayon days. Yellow and orange, being lighter colors, afford less visual contrast from the white background, so I didn't use them. Gray (the default) seems most appropriate for neutral tone.
  • Add-on dictionaries available, both free and paid. You can switch freely between them within the app.
  • Settings > General > Enable Night Mode allows you to switch the background from white to black, making the display dark but readable.
  • The Wild button allows search for multi-character combinations (or multiple Pinyin syllable combinations) even when you don't know the first character (Pinyin syllable). For example, to see the multi-character (multiple Pinyin syllable) entries whose second character is 珠,enter:
    @珠
    (@ can be typed in normally, or by pressing Wild). Any 2-character entries are shown first, then any 3-character entries, etc. Even more search capabilities are described in the Advanced Tutorial section of the Instruction Manual, e.g., the use of $ to represent 0-3 characters (Pinyin syllables). These features make good usage of computerized capabilities, but I'm not sure how often I would actually need them. Still, it's useful to keep them in mind, since none of my other Chinese dictionary apps have such functionality.

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