Bickering Butterflies in Pleco

Most learners of Chinese know about Pleco, the popular Chinese dictionary. One of its great features (especially for long-term serious learners of Chinese) is that you can have multiple dictionaries within Pleco. This can provide wider coverage and a lot more depth. But every now and then, this feature can potentially be the source of confusion.

Check out this Pleco entry for “butterfly” (蝴蝶):

Pleco hudie conflicts

Confused? It’s like the dictionaries are arguing amongst themselves.

PLC: It’s 蝴蝶.

CC: Actually, both 蝴蝶 and 胡蝶 are OK.

GF: DO NOT WRITE 胡蝶!!!

ABC: Whatevs. You can write 蝴蝶 or 胡蝶.

My Chinese co-workers say that 胡蝶 can be a woman’s name, but not a butterfly. Not sure what the source of contention is here. (If you know, feel free to share in the comments!)

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John Pasden

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

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