Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Back when I coded ZHtool, there weren't a lot of online sites to help you read Chinese. Over time, more advanced sites like dict.cn, nciku.com, and iciba.com have come to vie for the clicks of Chinese learners. But the one site that stays at the tips of my fingers (and resides in my Firefox keyword bookmarks) is Adsotrans, now the Popup Chinese dictionary. The reason I use it is because it's the only truly open-source Chinese dictionary: Dave put a bunch of work into giving it a wide vocabulary as possible, and its users can easily contribute definitions for words that Adsotrans doesn't know.

One quirky side effect of this model — and it's a quirk I like — is that some words have "colorful" definitions. Today I was reading a Zhangjiang BBS thread about a fight at the local Pizza Hut and came across this sentence, which was crucial to understanding the passage:


Well, it wasn't 清楚 to me. The word I didn't get was the underlined one, 姘头. My first instinct was to look it up on Adsotrans, and this is the result:

The definition given for 姘头 is "shack job"

A smile spread across my face. I didn't know what "shack job" is, but a lookup was a short hop away. Heh, thanks Adsotrans. (Iciba.com has a more formal, though a little less colorful, definition of 姘头.)


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