3rd party books for licensing recommendations


I do not know if you can license these, but I recommend them for the following reasons (and purchased and used them in the daily routine of writing up my own vocab cards, etc)

-- my book being borrowed right now, cannot get isbn. this one was useful for letting me get other words the character was used in (similar to the @ function on the pleco dictionary)

-- 'a chinese english dictionary (revised edition)' by the 'foreign language teaching and research press' www.fltrp.com, ISBN: 7-5600-1325-2. some cool things this dictionary includes are indices including popular organizational/country/party names, solar terms, chemical elements, historical dynasty names, countries, regions, capitols, currency.

-- abc chinese english dictionary (no isbn, at my other home) which is a very good dictionary, and I think it also includes a rare/hard-to-find radical listing which lists the entries according to stroke count (for all those times when you tried to look up a character by radical and could either not find the radical, or could not find the character in the radical section)

CHARACTER-FOCUSED DICTIONARY (as opposed to word focused, like the above two dictionaries are)
-- 'reading and writing chinese' www.tuttlepublishing.com isbn 0-8048-3509-8, and the traditional version of it (isbn unknown, the book is not here right now) has a paragraph about the history and underlying meaning of the character, awesome for helping me to remember those characters

(seems like these books are not the same thing as english thesauri :(, however they seem like they would be useful for advanced learners/users of the language, because they highlight in detail specific usages which are appropriate and inappropriate for each word pair...
-- '1700 groups of frequently used chinese synonyms' published by beijing language and culture university press' www.blcup.com, isbn 7-5619-1265-x. this book is like a thesaurus of sorts, but like another book I cannot seem to find right now, it tells you in chinese the proper usage of the words. sometimes the 'collocation' crossword chart is a bit confusing (most often, actually; I'd much rather use a 'this is correct' and 'this is incorrect' list with each case listed beneath)

- 'chinese character fast-finder', by tuttle also, isbn 0-8048-3634-5 included a new method which was VERY VERY good for quickly finding character by their visual appearance (but because it was in book version I hardly ever took it with me to class). that's right, in this book, it uses an entirely different means by which to organize the characters, by visual feature - and it is WAY easier/quicker to find the characters than by traditional or simplified radical. highly recommended in electronic form!!!!!!!!!

-- 'a learners chinese dictionary: illustrations of the usages' published by beijing language and culture university press, isbn 7-5619-1460-1. has examples listed of good usages.

(one way you could port this to your pleco product, would be to include each grammar entry, unabridged if possible, with the search parameters being the words listed in the index)
-- 'a practical chinese grammar' by the chinese university press, www.chineseupress.com, isbn 962-201-595-6

I HOPE these suggestions are too late, because it means for me that your new product will be available for iphone soon!!!!!!! that being said, anyone else have any good book ideas for inclusion into a future list?

*I know that there has been some discussion of including a wikipedia or internet based dictionary, but I really think it's gonna have to be another few years before quality dictionaries start to migrate to the web (and only following that will be bilingual dictionaries) = in 2008 I still believe the best option is the commercial kind, so I'll willingly pay top dollar, triple digits, to access licensed dictionaries through your pleco system, and I thank you for doing this in the previous versions.


Staff member
Thanks for the suggestions. A couple of these we've already inquired about / been rebuffed on, unfortunately - BLCU press for example doesn't seem interested in doing business with us at all (though if they ever would there are a bunch of titles we'd like to talk to them about). Grammar references are an interesting area but I'm not sure if any of the ones I've seen would adapt well to a portable dictionary format - they tend to have a bit more of a flowing / textbook-y feel, without a rigid enough classification system to let you quickly look up "how do I say ...".


Not sure where the best source would be, but I would definitely love to see more names in the dictionaries, even if it is a very minimal listing to confirm that a certain character combination is a name. It's one of the most difficult things for me as a beginning reader. I really wish the convention of underlining proper names was more widely used in Chinese, but that's a pipe dream.


Staff member
There's been some interesting work done on that with text segmentation algorithms, actually - teach a computer to recognize a sequence of characters as most likely being a name. We haven't found such an algorithm that we can license, though, and we're too small at the moment to do that kind of research ourselves.


Please, consider Classical Chinese Vocabulary Notes by John Cikoski
The work is in progress now, but it looks so impressive!

None of this material is in the public domain. It is all protected by various copyrights. You
may make as many copies of this CD as you wish, and you may give them away, but you may not
sell them. You may print as many copies of these PDF files as you wish, and you may give them
away, but you may not sell them. However, you may ask to be reimbursed for your actual
out-of-pocket cost for materials and reproduction.


That's a really fascinating source. Only two things frustrate me about it, from a *very* quick glance:

Wade-Giles. Why? WHY?!

Using a font that replaces f (U+0066) with ṣ (U+1E63), such that the code point U+0066 now displays as ṣ and other similar insanities. I mean, I can kinda understand it, but from a purists point of view it's just wrong. *sigh*. EDIT: Or least, that's the impression I got from the fact that he included a font file for that on the website. EDIT 2: Yes, that's exactly what he's done.

Apart from that, it could be pretty interesting.


This book is amazing and the author seems to be ready for some kind of cooperation. I don't mind the romanization, it's not a problem for many students. It would be so GREAT to have it in Pleco!


Staff member
Going really in-depth in Classical Chinese is a little challenging since I'm not sure how well it's covered by our fonts / handwriting recognizer - might be something we can pursue once we get out of iPhone Development Hell at least, though. Wade-Giles wouldn't be a problem, we can easily add some code to our database converter to recognize that and convert it to our internal Mandarin pronunciation encoding system so that it can then be rendered as Pinyin or Zhuyin.
Mike, have you guys ever tried licensing Wang Li's Gu hanyu zidian (published by Zhonghua shuju)? I'm not sure if there's a digital version, but it'd be amazing to have on Pleco.


Seconding requests for more classical Chinese -- in my experience with Pleco 1.0 on the Palm, the fonts worked well enough for many characters, though some of the super-obscure ones -- the ones where even the Kangxi Dictionary seemed kind of eye-rolly -- didn't display. I guess WM and iPhone would be using different fonts, though.

Actually, dictionary-wise, Kangxi is great, and the text (though perhaps not the digital version) is certainly in the public domain.

Another thing I'd like would be more on function words. The 新编汉英虚词词典 from Sinolingua has a very nice format -- definition plus sample sentences -- but I'm sure there's probably something more robust out there.


Staff member
The obscure character font problem may be solved with the new data we licensed for stroke order diagrams / character component searches on iPhone (and soon Palm/WM) - that covers almost 60,000 characters, and as in Wenlin we can render slightly-fuzzy-at-low-resolution characters from that alongside characters from our regular Chinese fonts.

The copyrightability of newly-digitized versions of public-domain works is rather iffy, actually, though it varies from country to country and anyway we'd only want to use something like that with the digitizer's blessing.

I've been trying to ascertain whether the Matthews dictionary is still under copyright - there seems to be one version that's older than the public-domain cutoff and one that's newer (if it weren't for that darned Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, a.k.a. the Heaven Forfend That Disney Lose The Copyright To "Steamboat Willie" bill, we'd be home free), but if it does turn out to be public-domain we might be able to justify making the investment to digitize it ourselves. (or maybe get some kind of grant for that) Uses Wade-Giles romanization, but it'd be easy enough to convert that to Pinyin.