Updates and Links


– Since my GFW Android Market rant, it looks like the Android Market may no longer be blocked. I’ve been able to access it again for the past few days on my HTC Hero here in Shanghai. Not sure if this will last, but it’s certainly a welcome development!
Pleco for iPhone (beta) just went into Beta 4 testing. Michael Love says this will probably be the last round of testing (but wow, that team does an amazingly thorough job!), so that means it will likely be submitted to Apple for review very soon.


– Google recently released a pinyin conversion tool on Google Translate, but it’s super primitive. Mark at Pinyin.info details all the ways it sucks (via Dave), but they all boil down to this: the tool simply romanizes characters, without regard for proper spacing, proper punctuation, or multiple character readings that can only be determined with data-informed word segmentation. (Boo, Google! You can do waaayyy better!)
– Google also added a cool-looking new Google Translate Toolkit (via Micah), which looks like the beginnings of competition for translation software like TRADOS (the preferred tool of translator Pete).
– An over-the-top rant on the importance of reading Chinese (via Micah) serves as a good reminder to those of us who might be satisfied with our functional speaking ability and too lazy to improve our literacy (this is definitely me at times!).
– Speaking of reading material, ChinaSMACK recently reminded me that even when you’re too lazy to tackle 老子 or modern thinkers, there’s still less challenging but interesting material to read in Chinese, and reading something is certainly better than nothing.
– Finally, most of us have used character-by-character literal translation as a mnemonic for memorizing certain Chinese vocabulary, but now there’s a blog dedicated to just that, called “those crazy chinese.” “Sweet pee disease,” “hairy hairy balls,” “ear shit”… check it out.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. I 100% agree with the “over the top rant.” I might not have said it quite like that, but it’s very true — if you want to sound like the sort of well-educated, cultured person you are in your native language, you’ve got to act that way in your L2. It’s something I, too, forget from time to time, though.

  2. That last link was great. It brought a smile to my face right away.

  3. A different Mark Says: November 22, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Was glad to see that Android update, bought the Hero 2 weeks ago in HK and was sooo pissed when I got back to SH. Did you need to reset the phone?

  4. different Mark,

    I actually did reinstall the Hero Sense UI (using an official download from the HTC website), which had the unintended effect of unrooting my phone, but after I finished that, the Android market was still blocked. It became unblocked for me a few days later.

  5. I took a look at that rant, and I have to say I agree on some points. Granted, I don’t think knowing “lower” stuff is necessarily bad, but it’s definitely important to realize that it’s a different culture with its own literature to follow and keep up on.

    Also, it extends beyond books. I can’t count the times Chinese people have gone through a list of movies with me and I either hadn’t seen it or didn’t recognize the Chinese name. Granted, you can talk about American movies, but that moves you into “ugly foreigner” territory with some people.

  6. Thanks for pointing me to some useful reading material in Chinese LOL.

    I agree the rant of that guy is completely over the top, but he is right in that reading is important. Most students of Chinese dont take it seriously and that is what they are stuck in very basic conversations with taxi drivers that repeat themselves all the time. I had similar thoughts a while ago:


    Anyway, I have rethought my strategy since then, and I am convinced now that neither reading nor speaking alone are good methods to get up there. Both ways need to be followed in the same time because they completment each other.

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