Studying Chinese (8) – HSK4 & Ricci Dictionary

Well, this is it, at last I made it with HSK4 !  This exam is divided in three parts : listening, reading, writing. The whole test is marked on 300 points. To succeed, you have to grab at least 180 points. Last year I was 3 points short, I only made 177 points… 

So, I steadily carried on reviewing my flashcards, writing characters, watching TV series in mandarin chinese, improving my syntax and grammar with the fantastic method book from l’Asiathèque, and this time I was ready to pass the test : I finally made it with 246 points and this is a real achievement for me, I’m glad I made it to this level, it’s the reward for hours and hours of work.


Well, now, you might say : « so what ? ». So what ?  This is a test that is officially recognized by the Chinese government, so if I had the desire to go and study in a chinese university, I am in position to enter straight into second year.

Of course it’s not what I intend to do in the near future, but as I’ve already said, it’s important to set you goals and that was my main goal this year. Now, what next ? I realized this year my pronunciation is quite poor, so I intend to make progress in this domain. I stumbled upon this article, explaining how you can boost your speaking. I’ve already begun to practice more accurately, and the first results are encouraging, now I have to carry on.

Matteo Ricci

This week I considered I deserved a reward for this achievement, a…long-awaited reward (!). Let me first introduce you to Matteo Ricci, maybe the first foreign sinologist, his life is a real novel. And now have you heard about Grand Ricci dictionary ?  It’s a chinese-french dictionary, the largest chinese-foreign language dictionary in the world. Its story alone is an incredible adventure, it involved the lives of dozens of scholars over more than 50 years, beginning after World War II, you can read here this unbelievable epic !

Three years ago, it was released as an official add-on to the famous Pleco app I often talked about in this blog. But I knew I wasn’t ready, I had to work to be able to enter this tremendous piece of knowledge. Eventually I purchased it a few days ago, and I must say it’s absolutely in-cre-di-ble. For only 60$, you can touch the entire story of a multimillennial writing system. In actual fact, you do not have one, but two dictionaries. The first one is Grand Ricci :


Grand Ricci


Extensive definitions, multiple interpretations, this alone is a tremendous chinese-french dictionary.

But there is more than that : the second dictionary, the Historic Grand Ricci. It covers the whole etymology of the selected character, gathering information on Oracle Bones, Bronze and the many following periods of chinese history. It’s marvellous…really astonishing :


Historic Grand Ricci


When you consider the amount of work that was necessary to produce such a powerful tool, it’s really surprising to access these information at your fingertips. This ensure you hours and hours of discoveries and learning, I’m so glad I have the chance now to be able to wander through these pages !