The easiest way for me to enter Chinese text is by typing English text and getting something to translate it for me. Generally speaking this does 60% of the job. Then there are the characters that are more difficult to translate, so I need to enter them directly. For this task I like to write the characters into a system that does Chinese handwriting recognition. For this job I used the free iTranslate iPhone app and the nciku dictionary. I used the iTranslate app, mostly because I was out, but it had the added advantage of quickly swapping the Chinese and English back and forth from the translate/translated windows for refinement of the desired characters. Also, unlike the other translation apps on my phone, iTranslate allowed me to get the data out (via email in this case). Apparently iTranslate is “powered by Google” and indeed once I got home I also used Google Translate with largely the same results although there is no handwriting recognition involved there.
nciku is far and away the better word and phrase translator, plus it has more data entry methods (handwriting, pinyin). In Google’s favour is it’s ability to deal with greater volume (sentences, paragraphs, whole web pages).
So, sometimes after I’ve input the characters, I’ll retranslate the Chinese back to English to see what comes out. Sometimes it’s something that makes sense (auspicious vs good luck), sometimes it’s the word you expect except that you don’t get that when translating in the other direction (button vs Buttons), and sometimes it’s just wacky (pan chang vs plate length).
The extra added difficulty to this project is that I was translating the Chinese from the handwritten (fast script with a paintbrush) Chinese in the English version of the book. The Chinese editions of Chinese Knotting 2 and Chinese Knotting 3 have the text nicely typeset on the top of the page in addition to the pretty, but difficult to read, script and that’s most likely the case with the first volume as well.
|English Name||Written Chinese||Pinyin||Translation Notes|
|double coin knot||雙錢||shuāng qián||double money vs double coin (雙幣)|
|double connection knot||雙聯||shuāng lián||retranslates as Double|
|sauvastika knot||卍字||wàn zì||swastika word|
|cross knot||十字||shí zì||ten word|
|cloverleaf knot||酢漿草||zuòjiāngcǎo||oxalis corniculata retranslates as shamrock vs clover (三葉草)|
|good luck knot||吉祥||jí xiáng||auspicious|
|button knot||鈕扣||niǔ kòu||retranslates as Buttons vs button(按鈕)|
|pan chang knot||盤長||pán cháng||retranslates as plate length|
|round brocade knot||團錦||tuán jǐn||retranslates (iTranslate) as mission jin|
|plafond knot||藻井||zǎo jǐng||surprising straightforward bilateral translation|
|flat knot||平結||píng jié|
|ju i knot||如意||rúyì||retranslates as "be satisfied"|
|brocade ball knot||繡球||xiù qiú||embroidery ball (remove the flower (花) in the middle)|
|longevity knot||壽||shòu||longevity (長壽)|
|double happiness knot||雙喜||shuāng xǐ|
|dragonfly knot||蜻蜓||qīng tíng||dragonfly (蝴蝶昆蟲)|
|butterfly knot||蝴蝶||hú dié||google gives the oddest translation to “butterfly”: 輕便鐵路蝴蝶站|
|long pan chang||長盤長||cháng pán cháng|
|stone chime knot||磬||qìng||stone chime (石磬), even by itself (磬) is stone chime|
|double diamond knot||方勝||fāng shèng||方=square retranslates (iTranslate) as Fang sheng 勝=win, defeat, be better than, superb 形 = shape|
|crane knot||仙鶴||xiān hè||crane (鶴) retranslated by nciku as a mythological immortal bird|
|phoenix knot||鳳||fèng||phoenix (鳳凰)|
|fish knot||鯉魚||lǐyú||fish = 魚 the written Chinese is “carp”|
|ten accord knot||十全||shí quán||nciku retranslates as perfect|