Software for Mac OS

Aug 042011
Chinese text-to-speech in Mac OS 10.7 Lion

Apple has long had text-to-speech built into Mac OS X. With OS 10.7, they’ve added voices for Chinese. The voices aren’t pre-installed on US systems, at least, but they are free downloads. Go to System Preferences>Speech. Pull down the “System Voice” menu and choose “Customize.” (Note that in the image below, I have already installed two Chinese voices; go to “Customize” at the bottom to install voices). Select the voice(s) you wish (China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong are available for Chinese). Click the checkbox to “Speak selected text when the key is pressed.” (You can customize the keyboard shortcut for this if you wish.) Optionally, adjust the speed of the voice. A cool thing to do with this is to make audio files of texts (e.g., readings or dialogues from a textbook). The text-to-speech isn’t completely natural, of course, and nowadays most textbooks include audio in some format, but if you … [read more]

Jun 142011
OCR Chinese with Adobe Acrobat

Suppose you have a printed magazine and you want to have a digitized version of an article (for converting from traditional to simplified or vice versa, adding interlinear pinyin, annotating/highlighting, carrying around on your iPhone, or whatever). You can scan the page, but this will not allow you to make any sorts of changes or additions to the text. That’s where OCR (optical character recognition) comes in. OCR software  makes the text of the scan selectable for copying and editing. To recognize characters, OCR software needs to be aware of the language (or at least the character set) that it is “reading.” Among its many features, Adobe Acrobat (not the free Adobe Reader) can perform OCR on Chinese texts in both traditional and simplified Chinese. Simply open a pdf scan in Acrobat and choose Document > OCR Text Recognition > Recognize Text Using OCR. In the dialogue box that appears, click the … [read more]