Online Vietnamese language resources

With the popularity of a previous post on Vietnamese Input Methods and the recent demise of dict.vietfun.com, I feel compelled to post a list of online Vietnamese language resources.  This list is, of course, not exhaustive, so please add any other helpful links to the comments.  As we so painfully realize today with the launch of an "not-so-improved" replacement for dict.vietfun.com, web resources are terribly ephemeral and therefore may not exist tomorrow.  I compiled this list awhile ago (updated for now), and I'm leaving the now-defunct sites as an archive.

Vietnamese Dictionaries and Glossaries

  • Hồ Ngọc Đức's Dictionary: Original dictionary by Hồ Ngọc Đức.  The best interface for this dictionary was located historically at dict.vietfun.comwww.datviet.com:8000 and www.viet.net/~vietdict/ but are now defunct.  A non-operational archived copy can be found here.  Also available in downloadable form for use offline (with the optimal interface).  See also Hồ Ngọc Đức's Vietnamese input program, Unikey.
  • VDict:  Decent dictionary with translation.  Forums very informative.  Lots of ads.
  • vndic.org:  Another dictionary showing adjacent terms.  Ads.
  • Viet Dictionary:  Fast and simple.  Minimal ads, but a little buggy.
  • Webster's Online Dictionary - with Multilingual Thesaurus Translation:  Very useful resource that finds phrases which contain the keyword you're searching for, i.e. I searched for "hát" and got 50+ entries, including "rạp hát" (theatre), "đầy tiếng hát" (songful) and "không được ca ngợi" (unsung).  Takes awhile to figure out how to use it.
  • Multilingual Legal Glossary:  A handy tool, though not extensive, for searching legal terms and phrases.  It's a fairly recent project headed by Vancouver Community College, so I think it's probably still being updated.
  • Intel Term List - VN:  In my experience, when most people are talking about computers, parts and software are referred to by their English name or some transliteration.  However, Intel has a whole list of trademarks and brands that they've "officially" translated in Vietnamese, presumably to accomodate the growing hardware market in Vietnam.  Very useful website, especially for those of you, like myself, who have always wanted to know how to say "Pentium® 4 Processor with HT Technology brand" in Vietnamese.
  • Business Electronics Dictionary:  Another interesting glossary that gives extensive definition and explanation of English terms in Vietnamese.  Not a large amount of entries, but several useful internet terms.

Vietnamese Language Resources

  • Learning Vietnamese Online:  Great starting point for learning Vietnamese online.  Hosted by Arizona State University.
  • EVietnam Group:  Defunct. This place is full of interesting Vietnamese language stuff, including free Vietnamese courses, a cool cultural dictionary and a Vietnamese Language exchange forum. This is a good start for those interested in learning Vietnamese or learning more about the growing network of Vietnamese language groups who are making themselves available via this thing we call the internet.
  • Vietnamese Online Grammar:  A detailed linguistic study of the Vietnamese language, but limited in completeness.  It seems like the project is still in process because many links are looped to a different page or not even linked.  Covers areas such as basic tones, lexicon and grammatical topcis (tense, aspect, negation).
  • Phrasebase Vietnamese Language:  Defunct.  An active forum with some useful threads for beginner Vietnamese terms, plus some cross references for other Vietnamese Language websites, if you're willing to dig that deep.  It seems that detailed questions get answered pretty quickly (many the same day) which makes this website useful for colloquial terms and phrases. 

Death of the BEST Viet dictionary

It's gone.  The Vietnamese dictionary that I've been using for years and years and years (well, at least since 2003), and has served as my homepage since the beginning, has finally gone the way of all the earth.  Returned to the dust.  Paid the final visit to grandma and grandpa.  Gone back to the happy hunting grounds.  :(  I'm sad.

The dictionary of which I speak is the English - French - Germany [sp] - Vietnamese Dictionary once available at dict.vietfun.com.  The genius Hồ Ngọc Đức created the dictionary software and the database of terms.  He is truly dedicated to extending the Vietnamese language to the world via the Internet, and leads the ongoing effort toward developing VietWordNet, a "large-scale online lexical-semantic Vietnamese language net" (like the English WordNet developed at Princeton).  His contribution to the Vietnamese language on the world wide web is perhaps the most influential, considering that apparently all current Vietnamese online dictionaries use large portions of his database, including the Vietnamese Wiktionary.

It thus saddens me to see the most intuitive and useful tool in accessing the above resource vanish from the Web.  Why was this the best dictionary?  Absolutely no ads.  Simultaneous language lookup (a drop-down box is a terrible way to choose language!).  After lookup, auto-focus to the input box and auto-selection of text (allowing user to enter the next term without having to navigate to the input and/or select the text).  Right-click on a word in the definition to lookup that word.  These features provided a seamless, speedy workflow that minimized the amount of lost time with keyboard-to-mouse-and-back hand movement.  I remember countless times looking up a list of mixed words (both English and Vietnamese) without touching the mouse once.  This functionality was in place before Web 2.0 and mobile interface concepts had emerged mainstream - truly a web app beyond its time.

All of the current online Vietnamese databases have some of these features, but most revert to a language drop-down, severely limited efficiency and doubling time when translating.  I find the drop-down an eyesore that may conserve screen real estate but lacks functionality (in this application).  In a subsequent post, I will list the dictionary resources that I will now have to use since my trusted site is gone under, grimacing each time I have to click for a language and see a gaudy ad.

I had noticed that the dictionary at dict.vietfun.com was quite fickle over the last several months, so I was relieved to see a message last week stating that major improvements were being implemented.  Alas, I access the site this morning only to find the hated drop-down language selection!  Mừng hụt!  And what's worse?  A gaping text box spanning half my screen, reserved for translation.  Yuck.  Lookup and translation should never be on the same page.  I frantically clicked the About tab to see if Hồ Ngọc Đức is somehow involved with this remake (hoping that he wasn't).  A 404 error - the page doesn't even exist.  The site is due for completion on June 25, but judging by its current state, it will never be half the site it used to be.  The beautiful simplicity has been compromised for Bleh and a Translation Box.  And a drop-down. 

This is a sad day.  I don't know if I can function without this dictionary.  Perhaps if someone were to re-create it... hmm, now that's an idea.


Organic Design and Internet GIS

 I've had a lot on my mind lately, so I'm going to distract myself for a moment by blogging about random stuff.

First, dad made a rock patio in his yard which intrigues me - I can stand at the door and stare at it forever.  At a glance, it appears that the stones were nicely planned out before being placed, perhaps drawn out on paper like a blueprint.  But it was actually placed stone-by-stone, starting with the big one in the middle and moving outward.  That might not seem like a big deal, but it's a microcosm of organic design and a beautiful example how well generative processes work.  More on organic design later (a lot more...)

Maps and geospatial data integrated into our daily life... it's been in the works for years and now it's evolving into the transparent appendage for which cybernetics gurus have been waiting.  ESRI recently released an online GIS that looks promising, despite some controversy.  That's on the map-making side.  Now that our phones have GPS (and can be tracked by cellphone towers if no GPS is present) and we're addicted to constantly tweeting and updating our status, we've become easy targets for... well, whoever has the data.  Fun.

Well, I think I feel better.  Now, bed.

travel log
  • 02.13.08 - to the temple with Luan and his mom, good to be back
  • 02.14.08 - Mẫu's alive! and staying for the weekend
  • 02.15.08 - floor hockey and Thái food makes for some strange dreams
  • 02.17.08 - frisbee and swamp monster at the park: fun but I'm pooped!
  • 02.19.08 - just read Triết's response to my last post - game on!
  • 02.20.08 - raining and expected to continue through Sunday - thank goodness!
  • 02.21.08 - 3-hour nap is a bad idea right before bed
  • 02.23.08 - to the beach to watch kites, a baptism @ 5pm, and homemade bulgogi - what a day!
  • 02.25.08 - just gave myself a haircut - woo, cold head!
  • 02.26.08 - 75° and spring cleaning - couldn't feel better
  • 02.27.08 - fed the elders bún đậu tonight - think it's their first time
  • 03.01.08 - working on new background...
  • 03.02.08 - finalized javascript to change background without muffing up my other scripts
  • 03.03.08 - fhe: "In his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12)
  • 03.07.08 - some decisions are harder than others, but some are downright excruciating
  • 03.08.08 - there is life after work... i almost forgot
  • 03.11.08 - the distance between good and bad is much shorter than between better and best
  • 03.12.08 - conversion is sometimes a gradual process, so much so that we don't even notice
  • 03.14.08 - for some reason everything was a little harder today, looking forward for bed!
  • 03.15.08 - last night after blog reading, I missed OnlyBlue, today I find she's back
  • 03.16.08 - best day of my life!
  • 03.19.08 - "Pray for the answer that they've been looking for"
release notes v1.0 - FINALLY DONE!
  • 12.07 - first thought of starting a new blog
  • 01.08 - busy with election stuff but blog design still on back burner
  • 01.13.08 - first idea to imitate jk rowling with the "desk" theme
  • 01.28.08 - start sketching current design, breaking down development into phases
  • 02.02.08 - election only days away but still drafting final plans
  • 02.04.08 - v0.6 LAUNCH
    • main components (blog body, sidebar, header, etc) designed and implemented
    • styling for font, links, drop caps, etc. finished
  • 02.07.08 - v0.8 LAUNCH
    • image style to imitate polariod
    • moveability - post-it notes and static clings can be repositioned by drag and drop
    • release notes styled and written
  • 02.16.08 - travel log (beta) added in hopes of catching the mundane
  • 02.22.08 - lightbox 2.03 reinstalled and working fine (hopefully - let me know otherwise)
  • 02.26.08 - v0.9 LAUNCH
    • travel log seems to be working, so I'll keep it
    • lightbox also seems to have passed the test, so it's a keeper
    • some credits/info added to bottom (will expand)
    • keeping old Viet terms in archive for future viewing
  • 03.18.08 - v1.0 LAUNCH
    • installation and testing of time-sensitive background completed (for now)