Category Archives: Language

OOHanzi now packaged for Ubuntu

I’ve packaged all of OOHanzi for Ubuntu. I’m using Launchpad to host them. Follow the link for information about the sources that must be added to your /etc/apt/sources.list to use my repository. It is also possible to just use the web interface to download all 3 packages individually and install them one by one. If you add the repository to your configuration, just installing oohanzi (e.g. apt-get install oohanzi) should pull everything needed. If you install individually you need to install, in order:

  • java-unihan-lib
  • oounihan
  • oohanzi

Or you can issue a single dpkg -i command with all 3 listed. If the installation system complains that it cannot complete the installation, issue “apt-get -f install” after the installation.

People who have already downloaded the files individually and who would like to switch to the Ubuntu packages should first uninstall the old OOHanzi extensions and the unihan java library.

People who want to keep abreast of developments can subscribe to an RSS feed that contains only OOHanzi announcements.

Note for people who want to edit OOHanzi’s OOBasic code in OpenOffice’s IDE: If you use the Ubuntu packages, there is no way to edit the OOBasic code. If you want to install the extension so that you can modify the code as needed, you can install the java-unihan-lib and oounihan Ubuntu packages but you must install the .oxt for oohanzi manually as described in the previous release notes.

OOHanzi 0.2 released

Change Log

  • Added some code to make things a bit more user friendly when a JRE is not properly installed.
  • Modified the way web browsers are launched.
  • Changed the nomenclature of menus and some functions.
  • General fixes to improve stability in Windows.


This documentation deals with version 0.2 of OOHanzi. This software is very much at the Alpha stage of its life-cycle. Expect bugs. Expect nonsensical design decisions. Expect quirks.

Imagine a paper even before it is at the draft stage, when it is still just a bunch of thoughts quickly put together. Or notes taken at a conference. At this stage, OOHanzi is very much the programmatic equivalent of that paper or those notes.

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The necessity of memorization

One of my projects this summer was to start memorizing the verses of Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. At cruising speed, I’m able to learn about one verse a day… which is not too shabby considering that in the AIIS program last summer the memorization rate was 2 verses a week. It is an unfortunate fact that during the most part of my Sanskrit studies, memorization was not a priority for me or my teachers. I’m not saying that my teachers did not ever have us memorize anything. I did memorize some vocabulary and some declension tables in my classes in Western universities. However, in the Western setting especially, memorization was a fairly limited and artificial affair. After my experience this summer, I am convinced that the memorization of actual texts is a desirable element of learning Sanskrit and should be present from the earliest stages of learning.

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Strange encounter of the Devanagari type

Yesterday, my wife and I went to a used book store. I was browsing their foreign books section and found a book with Devanagari script on it. The first thing that caught my eye was the word dharmaśāstra (धर्मशास्त्र) written on the cover. I thought “aha! a Sanskrit book”. But above it I saw the word māramana (मॉरमन), which did not ring any bell. (People who read Hindi will already have found where I erred.) I looked at the table of contents and realized immediately that the book was in Hindi, not Sanskrit. But that word, māramana, did not ring a bell. I was trying to figure out whether it was the name of an ancient author, a place, some sort of obscure philosophical view. Then I noticed the ardhacandra over the first syllabe. That’s the half moon diacritical mark above the word. This is not a normally found in Sanskrit so it has to be a modern Hindi word. Since it is Hindi, the last short “a” vowel is not pronounced so it should sound like māraman. Still, nothing came to mind. Then I remembered that the ardhacandra is normally used in transliterating the long “o” sound found in some English words (like in the name “John”: जॉन). Ok, so it is an English name sounding like moraman…. the religion of moraman…. moraman morman… Mormon!

It was an instructional book about Mormonism. It’s been my experience that recognizing English words transliterated in Hindi is pretty hard. Unfortunately, I don’t have to read such transliterated words very often. Here, I had a big fat clue in the ardhacandra but I’m reading much more Sanskrit than Hindi these days and even in the Hindi I read from time to time, the ardhacandra is not very frequent. So it initially slipped my mind. In general, Hindi transliteration of English words is done to represent how the English word sounds to the ears of native Hindi speakers. Hence, it requires quite a bit of mental gymnastics for a reader thinking in English to totally flip perspectives. The reader must no longer be an English language speaker looking at Hindi as a foreign language but must become a Hindi speaker looking at English as a foreign language. Arguably, the same gymnastics sometimes has to be performed with French for instance but because English and French “grew up” together, so to speak, and use the same script, the mental gymnastics involved are usually trivial.

Infective Participle

The infective participle is used with a main verb in the postpartum present tense to indicate the retrograde completion of the action signified by the main verb of the sentence. The infective participle agrees in gender, number, longitude and latitude with the subject of the main verb if it appears before the subject. Otherwise, it remains ambidextrous.