Archive for the ‘Dictionaries’ Category

Maryknoll Taiwanese-English dictionary data available

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Maryknoll have just updated their dictionary page with an Excel-format spreadsheet of the content of their Taiwanese-English dictionary. The spreadsheet consists of 55,903 entries, with four columns for each entry (sort, romanization, Mandarin in characters, and English). Here’s a quick sample:

hoan tian 01 hoan-tian 不正常 ,反常 abnormal
hoan tian 01a ::la7u hoan-tian 罵老人記性差 old person forgetful because of age
hoan tiau ho2an-tia7u 反調 sing off key, disagree with one’s companions
hoan tin ho7an-ti5n (ji5n-kan) 凡塵 world of people (Buddhist term commonly used for the world that belongs to people)
hoan tioh ho7an-tio8h 犯著 to violate (the law), to do something that makes someone unhappy

Father Clarence Engler, leader of the dictionary team at Maryknoll, has informed me that there is no electronic file of the other dictionary they publish, the English-Amoy dictionary (the manuscript was produced in the days before personal computers). However, with this Taiwanese-English data now available, it will make a superb base for an online dictionary project (of which more in the coming days and weeks).

EDIT: Father Engler has just emailed to say that the spreadsheet has not been fully proof-read, and likely contains errors, especially in the Chinese characters. Caveat emptor!

Maryknoll dictionaries now free to download

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

After the recent news that Maryknoll have decided to license their dictionaries under the Creative Commons, they have now uploaded pdf versions of both the Taiwanese-English and English-Taiwanese dictionaries to their website.

Some words from the Taiwanese-English dictionary

The documents are divided into letters of the alphabet, but the entirety of both dictionaries is available there. The great work put in by generations of Maryknoll teachers and scholars deserves applause, and the wider availability of resources such as this can only benefit the Taiwanese language community.

As an aside, those of you familiar with POJ will notice a couple of peculiarities in the orthography used by Maryknoll. The fifth tone, represented elsewhere by a circumflex, is rendered with a breve, and the superscript “n” for a nasal vowel is replaced with an asterisk in Maryknoll texts.

Maryknoll dictionaries now “open-source”

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Great news for English speakers learning Taiwanese: Catholic missionary language training centre Maryknoll have just decided to release the contents of their two dictionaries (the English-Amoy Dictionary and the Taiwanese-English Dictionary) under a Creative Commons license. Their content, like this site, will now be open to anyone to use and remix, as long as the original authors are credited.

I have had discussions with Fr. Clarence Engler, the leader of the dictionary project, for a few months now, making the case for Creative Commons and trying to persuade Maryknoll to make the switch. I’m delighted to see they’ve done this and that their great work can now be reused and built upon by others.

I plan to use the data from the dictionaries as the basis of a free online dictionary, something along the lines of the CEDICT project. Maryknoll are currently revising their dictionaries, so I will be concentrating on putting the structure together first, before integrating the new data once it is ready. As for a timeline, we’re probably looking at a year before this is up and running properly, but hopefully it will prove useful. If you’d like to get involved in this project please drop me a line – I’d be very pleased to hear from you.

Taiwanese dictionaries – a (hopefully) comprehensive list

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Cover of the PumindianRecently I had cause to look for a bibliography of Taiwanese dictionaries, and was frustrated by the lack of consistent and comprehensive information available online. Having had a look in print too, it seemed that what I was looking for simply didn’t exist.  So, in a do-it-yourself spirit I’ve put together a list of 145 dictionaries, vocabularies and lexicons related to the Taiwanese language and its sister dialects in the Southern Min family, based initially on Henning Klöter’s general bibliography. I don’t claim this as a complete list, but it is more extensive than any other I have been able to find.

As will be evident from a cursory reading of the list, most of the entries were published after the end of the martial law period in Taiwan, beginning in the late 1980s.  There is a tremendous diversity of sources out there, and many have been put together by individuals rather than large editorial teams, published at their own cost as labours of love.

If you spot any errors or omissions, please feel free to contact me and I’ll update the list.  As usual with content from this site, it is available under a Creative Commons license, meaning you can reuse it as you see fit (though a hat-tip in this direction would be appreciated).

MoE releases online Taiwanese dictionary (finally!)

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Unfortunately no time to look into this in depth at the moment, but the Taipei Times today detailed the announcement by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan of a new web-based dictionary for Taiwanese (referred to in the report as Hoklo):

After seven years of development, the Ministry of Education has completed the first official online dictionary for Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese).

The Online Taiwan Common Hoklo Dictionary test version contains 16,000 commonly used Hoklo terms and words in transliteration.

Ministry officials said the dictionary was very user-friendly and that non-Hoklo speakers could look up Hoklo phrases by keying in their Mandarin equivalent.


Users of the Hoklo dictionary can look up words by keying in headwords (“catchwords”), transliteration of the words and the words’ Mandarin equivalents through “fuzzy searches” or “focus searches,” Chen said.


Phonological differences and regional variations, including the two major variants — Chuanchou (泉州) and Changchou (漳州) — are also recognized by the dictionary, she said.

Yao Rongsong (姚榮松), chief editor of the ministry’s editing committee and a professor of Taiwanese literature at National Taiwan Normal University, said creating the dictionary was very time consuming because editors had to switch from the Taiwan Language Phonetic Alphabet they had initially used to Taiwanese romanization.

Hmm, I can’t believe that the switch from TLPA to Tai-lo was responsible for the project taking a long time. It would only take a day for a competent programmer to write a conversion program for their existing data.

Still, it’s great that this has finally seen the light of day. I’ll be interested to see whether it’s better than the 台文/華文線上辭典 – I’ll report back once I have had time to give it a thorough look-through.

Report taken from the Taipei Times: MOE launches first Hoklo-language online dictionary