A reader’s e-mail got me digging around for an online version of the Tao Te Ching (or, if you prefer, Dao De Jing), and I wound up at an amazing site, Chinese Characters and Culture. Its primary focus is on the characters:

Alone among modern languages, Chinese integrates both meaning and pronunciation information in its characters. deciphers this rich information to help students understand, appreciate and remember Chinese characters, one of humanity’s greatest and most enduring cultural achievements…
Click to see its definition, etymology, and relation to other characters.
Click on “+” to hear it, see it drawn, and see its entry in other dictionaries.

But along with the dictionary and the lists of dynasties, surnames, names of Chinese-Americans (if you’ve ever wondered about the characters for Connie Chung, Michelle Kwan, I.M. Pei, or Yo-Yo Ma, here’s where you can find them), and the like, it has a Readings section with not only the Dao De Jing but the Analects of Confucius, the 300 Tang Poems, Lu Xun’s Diary of a Madman, and other classic texts (not to mention speeches by Deng Xiaoping and Bill Clinton [!]). A tremendous amount of work has obviously gone into this site, which is a treasure-trove to set alongside the Russian ones I blogged yesterday; it’s been quite a weekend for foreign literature here at Languagehat.


  1. I’m teaching myself to read Chinese and was pointed to early — it’s absolutely wonderful. However, I only know about 60 characters, so it’s going to be a while before I can actually read anything there; I mostly just use the dictionaries for other purposes. 🙂

  2. Ah – finally a language I know something about! Here are more resources:

  3. Testing if I can make that link clickable…
    Looks like I can!

  4. While you are over at the Chinese Mac web site, check out this page on Characters and Encodings. Lots of interesting information about Unicode…

  5. I’ve been trying to learn Mandarin for some while now, and I found zhongwen dot com a while back. I even went so far as to buy their (rather cheap) dead tree version. It uses Pinyin, it’s up-to-date vocabulary-wise, and it as a website, it’s what it should be.

  6. I used a lot when I was studying Chinese too. I’m not properly set up to read Chinese on Solaris, so it helps to have an all-GIF site.
    I’m trying to go back to studying Chinese in September, and if I want to make the intermediate class instead of taking elementary for the, like, sixth time, I expect I’ll be using it a lot too. The hardest thing is that I expect my class to use simplified characters, and as a product of the California community college system, I only know traditional. Wigged out the first time I saw “ge4” in simplified characters.
    I expect I’ll get in trouble for having a bopomofo dictionary too, but at least I know pinyin.

  7. Simplified characters are ugly.

  8. Kerim, can you recommend any texts (online or otherwise, but preferably inexpensive ones) for beginners?

  9. Can anyone recommend a cheap or free Chinese word-processing software? (I use Windows/98 Office 2000 right now). I can cut and paste Unicode characters one at a time, but I’m hoping for something more convenient. MSWORD has something called Mingliu, but it’s ugly and hard to search (unless there’s a way I don’t know about).

  10. Chris,
    Here is a good place to start. There are a lot more options available over at Marjorie Chan’s web page. To get the most up-to-date information I suggest subscribing to the Kenyon e-mail list mentioned on Chan’s site.

  11. Zizka,
    You should also look over at Marjorie Chan’s site. here is her list of software. Windows XP has very good Chinese support built-in. But I use mac so I can’t tell you about other PC software…

  12. Kerim, you are hereby named Languagehat’s Official China Hand. Wear the badge with pride.

  13. Thanks, Karim. I’ll give the URL to my tech consultant. Any recommendations? I mostly want to be able to quickly and conveniently put up nice looking text using Windows 98 / Office 2000, and it should be Unihan-compatible I guess.

  14. Many thanks, Karim!

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