Chinese text annotation

When studying a passage of Chinese text, more often than not, having inline pronunciation would be a big help. Mandarinspot provides website pop-up translations and also annotation of Chinese text including word lists for various HSK levels, and various phonetic pronunciation systems (even Zhuyin 注音 :)).

Either enter the address of the website you’d like annotated, or copy and paste the text into the  Mandarinspot website, choose the phonetic system you want to use for in-line pronunciation, and hit the ‘Annotate’ button. (If  you select ‘For Printing’, then you’ll have the choice to print a word list from the available HSK lists at the bottom of the annotated text):

The result is a clearly annotated and word-separated passage of text with pop-up translations. This tool makes studying Chinese so much more efficient by eliminating time that would otherwise be wasted searching a dictionary for the proper pronunciation of a word.

7 responses to “Chinese text annotation

  1. Cheers Dave! This is great tool learning Chinese songs. Before I would find the lyrics and have to add the pinyin myself for the all words I didn’t know. Complete hassle, especially getting the formatting right.

    Thanks again!

  2. Glad you found it useful 😉
    I usually use it for news articles or other documents when I want to see clearly how the sentence breaks up.
    So you are learning Chinese songs, hmmm… KTV? 🙂

  3. Hi Dave,

    This is a beautiful, simple and well designed website. I have already installed their bookmarklet and will definitively use it a lot.

    But… it did not pass my basic test with “你要不要吃饭?”
    – gives 不 as 4th tone (bù)
    – My trusted gives 不 as second tone (bú) because of the 4th tone next to it.

    I hope can take these tone changes into their coding, this would make it my number one choice!

  4. @Nick,

    As we can see from 中华人民共和国国家标准, , Section 4.11.1, technically, it’s being done correctly by

    “聲調一律標原調,不標變調。” … “但在語音教學時可以根據需要按變調標寫。”

    Apparently, is more a friend of the teacher/student.

    To quote Sinolingua’s /Chinese Romanization: Pronunciation & Orthography/ (1990):

    “It should be noticed that the tone modifications that appear in speech are not reflected in written HP [Hanyu Pinyin]. All syllables are marked with their primary tones in writing” (p. 27)

    “Whatever its tone change in any given environment, in writing yī is always marked with its primary tone.” (p. 37)

    “Whatever its tone change in any environment, bù is always marked with its primary tone, the fourth tones, in writing.” (p. 38)

    Similarly, DeFrancis’ /ABC Dictionary/ states that “[t]one modification is not indicated. All syllable are marked with their primary tone.” (p. xv)

    As a teacher, however, I too require students to write the tone as changed to get them to remember and notice it more. (And while I can understand the zero-tolerance of the translations, I’m happy to be “officially” allowed to change tones for pedagogical purposes.)

  5. @Jeffrey,

    Indeed, it is down to be friendly to learners or not 🙂

    In the defense of (which we are not associated with), they do not show tones that are not the primary or secondary tones of a given character.

    In other words, they only show tones of the characters (e.g. bù or bú) but they do not put a second tone on 你 so they still convert 你好 as nǐhǎo. This is good as this would get messy otherwise.

    So, I think the mistake of the rule is on the ‘primary’ part: “All syllables are marked with their *primary* tones in writing”; the rule should allow to use the possible tones of a character depending on the context.

    Have you found any other sites that offer learners-friendly pinyin conversions?

    PS: direct link to the pinyin converter is (looks like it does not make it a link if you forget “http://www.”)

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