Info Tech, Language

One of the hardest things about learning Chinese is the lack of good dictionaries. I have one of the best — the ABC dictionary with over 10,000 characters and approximately 200,000 words and phrases” in its electronic form (also on my Palm). It serves me pretty well for most tasks, but almost every day I realize its limitations: how do I say outsourcing” in Chinese? [外包] Who is 哈里遜福特? [Harrison Ford] etc. These words are not in the dictionary, and even if they are, you can’t necessarily trust that the usage in the dictionary is current or what is used locally in Taiwan (as opposed to China). And since, unlike many foreign scholars in Taiwan, my life-partner can’t double as a Chinese-English/English-Chinese dictionary I’ve had to learn a few tricks to get by:

(These techniques should be just as useful for learners of English or people studying any other second language.)

Usually poking around with these tools will get you the word you are looking for. It isn’t exactly one-stop shopping, especially since you often have to double-check your results using a few different sources to be sure they are accurate, but it gets the job done. If you have any other tips, please share in the comments!

NOTE: Also be sure to check out these useful Chinese tools for Firefox (be sure to read the comments).

UPDATE: Google now offers the ability to do a search in another language using your own language to enter search terms!

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