Wiki for collaborative Pinyin projects

I have long wanted to expand the range of materials available in and about Pinyin. Possibilities for projects include:

  • Hanyu Pinyin subtitles for movies and videos
  • Hanyu Pinyin versions of Mandarin plays (for example, Cháguǎn, by Lǎo Shě)
  • translations into Mandarin (Hanzi and/or Pinyin) of parts of this site

I can do a lot of the work — in fact, as is my habit, I’ve begun all sorts of such projects but haven’t finished them — but can’t do all of it myself. So I’ve been mulling the idea of setting up a Pinyin-related wiki here on or perhaps on a spinoff site I set up, which would allow you, o reader, to get involved (a little or a lot, depending on your desire and amount of free time).

I’m thinking that texts could be worked on with the aid of Wenlin, since even contributors without the full version of that enormously useful program could use its free demo to select disambiguation choices in cases of word-parsing ambiguities or characters with multiple pronunciations.

For example, if one were using Wenlin to convert the following into Pinyin,


one would first need to choose between potentially ambiguous word boundaries

|我 | 在 | 朦胧 | 中,眼前 | 展开 | 一 | 片 | 海边 | 【◎Fix:◎碧绿 | 的;◎碧 | 绿的】 | 沙地 | 来,上面 | 深蓝 | 的 | 【◎Fix:◎天空 | 中;◎天 | 空中】 | 挂着 | 一 | 轮 | 金黄 | 的 | 圆月。我 | 想:希望 | 本 | 是 | 无所谓 | 有,无所谓 | 无 | 的。这 | 正如 | 【◎Fix:◎地上 | 的;◎地 | 上的】 | 路;其实 | 地上 | 本 | 没有 | 路,走 | 的 | 人 | 多 | 了,也 | 便 | 成了 | 路。

and then take care of items with multiple pronunciations

Wǒ zài ménglóng 【◎Fix:◎zhōng;◎zhòng】, yǎnqián zhǎnkāi yī 【◎Fix:◎piàn;◎piān】 hǎibiān bìlǜ de shādì lái, shàngmian shēnlán de tiānkōng 【◎Fix:◎zhōng;◎zhòng】 guàzhe yī lún jīnhuáng de yuányuè. Wǒ xiǎng: xīwàng běn shì wúsuǒwèi yǒu, wúsuǒwèi 【◎Fix:◎wú;◎mó】 de. Zhè zhèngrú 【◎Fix:◎dìshang;◎dìshàng】 de lù; qíshí 【◎Fix:◎dìshang;◎dìshàng】 běn méiyǒu lù, zǒu de rén duō 【◎Fix:◎le;◎liǎo;◎liāo;◎liào;◎liáo】, yě 【◎Fix:◎biàn;◎pián】 chéngle lù.

I’d prefer to keep things generally on the right side of copyright laws but am also hopeful that those may not be too onerous in the case of Pinyin versions and that Taiwan’s laws may put the situation more in our favor than might be the case elsewhere. Information about the legal situation would be greatly appreciated.

So, is anyone interested in helping out? Have advice? Success/horror stories about wiki projects? Suggestions for additional material?

5 thoughts on “Wiki for collaborative Pinyin projects

  1. From a technical use MediaWiki if at all possible. It’s very powerful, extensible and popular. I tried to use other software for wikis at my workplace and they all failed because of limitations of the software. Good luck!

  2. Sounds interesting, though I don’t speak Mandarin well enough to help much.

    I haven’t tried it, but WP Wiki Plugin might be an easy way of wikifying parts of your site. No doubt it’s far less powerful than MediaWiki, but it could be a quick and easy way to test out your collaborative ideas.

    Another method you might consider (for copyright-free texts) is working within an existing wiki framework:

    A handy online tool for spacing and pinyin conversion is MDBG. For example:,??????????????,??????????????????
    (don’t know if the above link will come out, but you can specify arbitrary Hanzi text in the URL and it returns a page with a decent guess at spacing, and lists of pinyin candidates)

    By the way a preview function for comments might be nice :-)

  3. Nice idea!

    A word of warning, though: if you’re used to the flexibility of WordPress as a blog tool/CMS, be prepared for a far less enjoyable experience when it comes to customizing something like MediaWiki. (Basically, you’re not going to want to customize it much, if at all.)

  4. I just converted my mom’s site, to MediaWiki
    after trying WordPress for a couple months. The neat thing about
    MediaWiki is it just sits there, and doesn’t try to make outbound
    connections on its own like WordPress, legitimate or not. is a list of the wikis I
    maintain, and a link to my brilliant article reminding you that
    MediaWiki is for say, horizontal dictionaries rather than vertical
    blogs. But I still managed to use MediaWiki’s [[Special:NewPages]] to
    combine the two concepts for my mom’s quiet ‘blog’. P.S. MediaWiki
    doesn’t mess with one’s “quote” “marks”. Thank goodness. I finally
    chucked WordPress instead of writing macros to disable all its

    Customization? . I would
    give you the link to all the bugs I’ve reported to , but it’s too long (the link
    itself, too :-)).

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