Posted tagged ‘Google’

How do you say “Google” in Mandarin?

June 10, 2008

I’m near the end of a month-long process to begin working in Beijing, which includes everything from applying for an employment visa to finding an apartment. This is a brief post meant to provide a tad bit of help to other native English speakers moving to Chinese-speaking countries.

I’d heard of Google Translate, but didn’t start using it until a couple of weeks ago. It’s amazing. I use it all the time both to translate e-mails from my boss and to translate entire Web sites. You can choose between Simplified and Traditional Chinese when translating from English. Google Translate includes 22 languages, and a “detect language” option. You might miss main points in lengthy e-mails, either composing or reading, but it’s great for quick messages and the site translate feature.

Nciku is my favorite online dictionary. You can draw characters into a form on the home page, translate them, and hear them pronounced. If you create a personal account, Nciku automatically saves all the characters you look up into a vocabulary list. I’m currently trying to figure out if I can use Nciku on my phone, which would save me a lot of money in buying an electronic dictionary with character drawing capability.

Soufun has the best rental listings I’ve found so far. I’ve only used it to look for apartments, but you can also look for office space. You can search by district, neighborhood, price range, number of bedrooms, and other criteria. As far as I can tell, it’s only for Beijing. You need Chinese language skills to use it; Google Translate is pretty effective, but doesn’t translate all the characters.

A word of warning about Firefox: I recently downloaded it and it works fine for just about everything but composing e-mails in Chinese. It enters characters out of order. I don’t know if this is also specific to Gmail or my computer, but Safari is flawless at composing e-mails in Chinese. I haven’t checked other browsers.

I hope somebody finds this useful. I’m pretty much a novice at this, so I welcome other suggestions or corrections.