Screencast: Wenlin helps you read Chinese

May 2, 2006, [MD]

I had studied Chinese for about two and a half years when I finally discovered Wenlin - not a minute too soon. The program is hard to define to those who have not used it, it allows you to load in a Chinese text (by entry, copy+paste or loading a file) and just by moving your mouse over the characters, it displays the dictionary definitions both of the phrases, and of the individual characters. You can then drill down and look up character etymologies, lists of all characters with this component, all phrases containing this character, etc. The strength of the program is

Thus Wenlin enables you to read texts “above” your level - for me reading newspaper articles would be frustrating because there were too many words that were important to the article, but that I would not run into often (like “apartheid”, “ambassador”, etc). Wenlin let’s you quickly lookup these almost without slowing down your reading. Thus you can advance from reading what your teacher prepared (John is a foreign student. He is in Beijing. Beijing is nice. John is American. Hi John.) to real material (A report of the 26th State Council of Copyright Protection).

As I stated above, trying to explain what Wenlin is and does is very hard, and so it is ideally suited to the new trend of doing screencasts - small movies - of software. I tried my hand at it, and here are some very short videos of Wenlin in action.

(This was my first attempt, so it’s not perfect. I used a trial version of Snapz PRO, which worked wondrously, even on my old iBook. I wish there was better opensource software available for OSX, but that goes for almost any category, sadly.)


Stian Håklev May 2, 2006 Toronto, Canada
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