May 262012
iOS app: Pinyinizer

Pinyinizer is an app for adding pinyin phonetic guide text (ruby text) automatically to Chinese characters. You simply type or paste a text in hanzi into the box and click the “Pinyinize” button. An internet connection is required. The result is a nice display with large characters and smaller, red pinyin above them. You can also hear line-by-line audio. The quality of the text-to-speech was quite good. The app is powered by Google Translate. Tapping a button gives you the option to print or e-mail the Pinyinized text. I could not print from the app, however; it simply hung after tapping the Print button. I needed to completely quit the app before I could use it again. In the iOS and Mac Mail apps, the Pinyinized text looks just like it does in the Pinyinizer app, but without the audio icons. Looking at the message source code revealed (unsurprisingly) that … [read more]

Feb 262012
Hanlexon online study aids

Hanlexon is a website offering a number of tools for the study of Chinese. All of the tools are used with “worksheets” that you create first. A worksheet is essentially a set of characters. It can be an actual text with punctuation, or just a list of characters (e.g. 50 most frequent). Worksheets can be organized into “lessons” and “classes.” One feature of Hanlexon, namely its ability to generate PDFs for practicing writing hanzi, is called the “writing” tool and was reviewed in an earlier post in comparison with a similar web-based tool, Hanzi Grids. This post will cover the other features of Hanlexon. The “reading” tool can turn the content of your worksheet into a PDF with the option of adding pinyin as a phonetic guide above the hanzi, creating an annotated (or ruby) version. The “reading” tool can also display the content of the worksheet right in the … [read more]

Oct 182011
Phonetic guide in iOS app Keynote

The same phonetic guide feature available in Pages (see yesterday’s post) works in Keynote for iOS! Also, I forgot to mention in the Pages post that you can add phonetic guide text (aka ruby text) in zhuyin (bopomofo) as well as pinyin! So you can use either pinyin or zhuyin in both Pages and Keynote. You can see zhuyin in the screenshot from Keynote on an iPhone, below. A couple of notes on formatting: the guide text will take on the color of the main text. It seems as if you must set your main font text size before adding the phonetic guide; after the guide text is added, the text wouldn’t resize properly in my testing. Also in my quick test, centering seemed thrown off by the guide text and had to be adjusted by eye. It’s still disappointing that you lose the phonetic guide text if you open the … [read more]

Oct 172011
Phonetic guide in iOS app Pages

The update to Pages for iOS that came out last week (version 1.5) brought the ability to add phonetic guides (aka “ruby text”) to Chinese characters! Pinyin (UPDATE: or Zhuyin) transliterations can be added above hanzi (there are variations for Japanese and Korean, too). The transliteration is done automatically for the selected word(s); you do not have to enter it manually. A good feature of this implementation is the ease with which you can edit the supplied transliteration (I found trying to edit phonetic guide text in OpenOffice very frustrating). The image to the left above shows the pinyin supplied by default for the selected words; the image to the right shows the same after manual editing (since these are proper names). Pros: Transliterations supplied automatically. Ability to edit transliterations when first adding them or at a later time. Cons, major: Phonetic guides are not supported in Pages for Mac, … [read more]

Jul 192011
Ruby text in the browser?

This is a quick test of ruby display in web browsers. If your browser can handle it, you should see this site’s name 中网 with pinyin transliteration above it. Ideally the browser will display the hanzi and pinyin one over the other. As a fallback, you may see the pinyin in parentheses. 中 网 ( zhōng wǎng ) It should look like this picture: Here is the code used: <ruby> <rb> 中 网 </rb> <rp> (</rp> <rt> zhōng wǎng </rt> <rp>) </rp> </ruby> Note: WordPress does not seem over-fond of the html markup for this. If you switch to the Visual editor, the tags seem to get stripped out, but it displays the “fallback” option of having the contents of the rt placed in parentheses after the rb. Publishing right from the html editor seems to keep everything.