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Recommendation for Chinese-Pinyin-English Phrasebook/Dictionary

Recommendation for Chinese-Pinyin-English Phrasebook/Dictionary

Mar 20th, 2010, 03:02 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 5
Recommendation for Chinese-Pinyin-English Phrasebook/Dictionary

I'm looking for a recommendation for the referenced phrasebook/dictionary. Perhaps one that also includes pronunciations, characters and menu items? Any help would be appreciated.
LeslieMWilson is offline  
Mar 20th, 2010, 04:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Unless you are willing to take a few Mandarin lessons before travelling, the aim of any extra printed materials you buy should be to have characters you can show people with whom you want to communicate. Phrase books for the most part inhabit some imaginary world not found in China, but if selecting one flick through to see how well your areas of concern are covered, and then to see how clear the characters are. Those with characters large enough and printed with sufficient contrast to be read in low light conditions are more useful, as are those that offer panels of possible answers to any question you might ask, again so the person you're talking to can reply by pointing at one of these. However, phrase books are incapable of dealing with the infinite variety of even the most simple and situation-specific communication, and a dictionary of some kind will do you much better.

That assumes, mind you, that you have no intention of looking up any Chinese, which in paper dictionaries requires knowledge of the strokes used to make up Chinese characters, or, if someone is saying something to you, being able to render that sound in pinyin--the official Romanisation of Mandarin (better to hand over the dictionary for the person to look up the characters and show you the English).

Most bookshops in China can sell you a copy of the pocket Oxford English-Chinese Chinese-English dictionary for the equivalent of around $5 or so.

If you're carrying a 'smart' phone or PDA of any kind, then going electronic is the way, using Plecodict (http://www.pleco.com). Any half decent guide book ought to offer you a menu guide, although it's astonishing now how many even very obscure restaurants have bi-lingual menus in wobbly English, usually with pictures of dishes. Point to order.

For an excellent guide to the variety of regional cuisines with full complementary vocabulary, see Eileen Wen Mooney's 'Beijing Eats', also on sale in Beijing itself. For a taster, her blog is here: http://eileeneats.com

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 09:40 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 234
I use an English-Chinese Pinyin Dictionary published by the Far East Book Co.

There are a few phrase translations in the back. It's usefull for me, but I have taken 2 Mandarin classes and don't think it would have been very usefull if I hadn't.

deptrai is offline  
Mar 21st, 2010, 11:27 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,850
While I was in SW China I bought a copy of "New Age Little Chinese-English Dictionary" published by The Commercial Press, which is only Chinese to English, but is sequenced alphabetically by pinyin (while other dictionaries I had seen had no pinyin). It was mostly to help me learn some characters (it has the most common combinations for each given character) but it also came in handy for a Chinese speaker to communicate with me.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 18th, 2010, 03:25 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
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http://bu4.taipudex.com/pinyin.htm provides an online Pinyin-English dictionary. It might be unfamiliar to use as it does without an input field. Just type any suggested letter or use the arrow keys to navigate. The line above the table is prefilled with your input and links to a Chinese-German dictionary, where pronunciation is available.
antuni is offline  
Jun 18th, 2010, 02:10 PM
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Posts: 1,025
The Rough Guide phrasebook/dictionary and the point-to-Pinyan-character method served me well in China. That, along with Pimsleur's basic Mandarin CDs, and I had great experiences communicating with the Chinese!
Nutella is offline  
Jun 18th, 2010, 04:27 PM
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I found pinyin essentially useless on the mainland - definitely need characters. I think the situation in Taiwan maybe a bit different.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 18th, 2010, 04:56 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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If you just need it for travel, I found "me No Speak Chinese" very useful. I took 10 weeks of Mandarin before I left and forgot it all by the time I got there. In major cities (and even some minor ones) we found enough people speaking English. In the rare circumstance we needed it, this book was very helpful.
sdtravels is offline  
Jun 18th, 2010, 08:33 PM
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Oops I mean't "point to Chinese characters", not point to Pinyan. I agree with Thurs!
Nutella is offline  
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