Friday, January 17, 2014

One smart phone

Well, this Chinese thing is going to be a lot of work. But it's going to be so much easier than learning Japanese was. Not just because I know Japanese (a mixed blessing, I understand - it may hinder as well as help) but because that was 1987 and this is 2013. You used to need three fat dictionaries - English to  Japanese, Japanese to English, and a character dictionary, for looking up unknown characters (by radical, number of strokes or pronunciation) and compounds. Then handheld electronic dictionaries appeared, rendering all the books obsolete. And now (I'm assuming parallel development for Chinese) smart phones apps like Pleco do things one couldn't have dreamed of back then. Not only are there the translating dictionaries, you can input words in Roman letters or by radicals and strokes; you can also draw them! Or scan with the phone's camera! Once captured - the dictionary includes many proper names too (and this is just the free version!) - there are sample sentences; you can also listen to the word pronounced. (I think you can input vocally, too - I'll try when I'm a little more confident on my tones!) And then add it to your flashcards. Hours of constructive fun await!

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