Posted by: manchucka | March 21, 2008

DimSum: Chinese Reading Assistant and Dictionary


Windows/Mac/Linux: DimSum is a dictionary program and more that uses the ever-expanding CEDICT for its data. This program has been around for years and has improved over time. Because it runs on Java Runtime Environment (JRE) it is effectively cross-platform. Use it for its pop-up dictionary, handwritten character recognition, abacus (!), pinyin inserter, and more. See below for screenshots and a brief walkthrough of some of its features:

In order to view pinyin with tone mark (zhèyàng) instead of with numbers (zhe4yang4), set “Romanization” to “Hanyu Pinyin (tone marks)” in the preferences panel:


To use DimSum’s most basic function, the annotator, simply paste Chinese text into the text box, and move the mouse curser above a word or character:


As you can see, the program is smart enough to parse phrases. To convert traditional characters to simplified characters (or vice-versa), simply go to Tools>Convert Characters to…


here are the results:


To use the standard dictionary, click on the second tab on the left edge:


This will invoke the radical chart, as well as let you paste individual characters and search by pinyin.

To search by writing a characters, first invoke the dictionary, as above, then select “Search by Written Character” in the lower-right:


Then, simply write the character with your mouse:


With each stroke, DimSum will suggest possible characters below:






There! No need to write the whole character. We got close enough.

Double-click on the character to bring up the results:


To see what else DimSum can do, click on “Programs”:


Let’s look briefly at “family titles.” Chinese is notorious for its complex system of kinship terms, so let’s try some out:



There is much more to DimSum. Have a go.


  1. […] the previously-mentioned program DimSum, the handwriting recognition function updates its search results as you add more […]

  2. very well

  3. ok

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