Last month, I came across this brilliant article on Hacking Chinese. This time, Olle Linge invited one of the most famous american sinologist : David Moser, who published two years ago a highly acclaimed essay on the contemporary linguistic diversity in China « A billion voices : China’s search for a common language ».
You must absolutely read this article if you wish to improve your mandarin chinese, it reaffirms the importance of reading in order to progress in your learning, and above all, we have no more excuses : the technological progress is allowing us to use dictionaries while reading, and David Moser explains very clearly the benefits of it.
By chance I decided to change my e-reader a few weeks ago, saying goodbye to my good old Sony PRS-505 that has been of a precious help for quite ten years. I replaced its battery three years ago and it’s still a good device but I needed a built-in front light to read at night, and I wanted to be able to read chinese texts in the Pleco app to use my dictionaries.
You can find many devices on the e-reader market, that being said I needed something I could customize. By choosing a device running Android I knew it would be possible. It’s funny to know that on the russian market, the C67ML has a different name : it’s called Darwin4.
Let’s look at the main menu :
One thing to note : by keeping the original chinese language in the Onyx Boox, you will have access to a selection of apps related to e-reading you can directly download if you want to :
O Reader is the dedicated software from Onyx, I found it very satisfactory :
You can download dictionaries and use them in O Reader but it’s not as convenient and powerful as Pleco. Concerning the fonts in the Pleco File Reader, no way to use on Android the custom fonts you can buy on iOS, instead you can download the KaiTi font here, it’s the one I’ve installed on my Onyx Boox and on my Yotaphone, it’s very easy to implement in Pleco, this is what it looks like :
Overview of the Pleco dictionnary on the C67ML :
Since it’s something I would have liked to see before my purchase, I shot a small video in order to show the File Reader use in Pleco on the C67ML. It’s not as fast as what you can experiment on a tablet, so it’s up to you to choose whether you prefer quickness or the comfort of your eyes :
Text-to-Speech is okay. Of course it’s not as fluid as a human voice but Google speech synthesis is worthy. I’ve installed the Google TTS module, because Pico (the built-in one) was rather disappointing.
Yet another little video, TTS in O Reader :
Since last november, there is a great news for all Pleco users : the app now proposes ebooks as add-ons, from The Graded Chinese Reader and The Chairman’s Bao, there are directly incorporated in your Pleco File Reader !
At last, here is a list of sources where you can find reading material in mandarin chinese :
- Free texts tackling various subjects, but you often only have previews of the full texts
- A selection of contemporary texts
- Another one
- Press articles, with english translations
- A chinese media I’ve already talked about in this blog
- News about the cultural fields in China
- Another chinese media
- Another last