CEL (Chinese-English Lookup)
Software for Windows, Version 2.0

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CEL screen shot

What is CEL?

CEL is a Chinese-English dictionary search utility that is designed to help Chinese language learners to read Chinese electronic texts in other applications such as Web browsers and word processors.

In the illustration, the user has selected and copied a word in Notepad. CEL, having detected the word on the Windows Clipboard, has popped up to display the corresponding dictionary entry.

What's new in Version 2.0 ?

Version 2.0 was released on January 23rd, 1999. Now you can...

  • Select dictionary entries and save them to a file for later study or reference
  • Choose the Romanisation to be used in displaying dictionary entries (Pinyin or Gwoyeu Romatzyh ("GR"))
  • Choose how the dictionary lookup is triggered (automatically or manually)
  • Choose the style of window ("always-on-top" or standard)
  • Select the display font
And settings such as the size and position of CEL's window are now recorded for the next time you use CEL.

What one user said about CEL

I wish I had this program years ago. It's the best thing I've downloaded in months... I am just blown away at how useful it is.

I used to occasionally read Chinese on the internet but I'd end up pawing through my paper dictionary so much that it wasn't very enjoyable. Now I'm just sitting there reading and most of the time CEDICT [the dictionary] has the word, or I can find similar compounds that help me guess, and it's really fast. I'm going to learn a lot quicker this way.

And the interface couldn't be better, just floating there, automatically responding to the clipboard.

Thank you very very much.

Glen Wintringham

More information about CEL

More detailed answers to the following questions can be found in the CEL documentation file CEL2DOC.TXT (which is included in the download file CEL.ZIP)

Do I need Chinese Windows to use CEL?
CEL works best in Chinese Windows, but you can also use it in English-language Windows, provided you use a program that allows you to view Chinese text (such as Twinbridge, RichWin, WinMASS, UnionWay, DynaLab Asia Surf, or NJWin).
What dictionary does CEL use?
CEDICT, a public-domain electronic Chinese-English dictionary. (A link to the CEDICT website is in the Download section below.)
Does CEL work with both Big5 and GB text?
Yes, but if you want to read GB text there is a workaround you need to know. It's in CEL's documentation.
Is CEL freeware?
CEL may be distributed freely but copyright is reserved. CEL has been tested informally but it is not guaranteed to function correctly. The author is not responsible for any consequences of the use of the program.
How do I install (and uninstall) CEL?
Create a new directory such as C:\CEL2 and put the first two download files -- CEL2.ZIP and CEDICTB5.ZIP -- in it, then unzip them. (If you need a utility for unzipping you can download an evaluation version of WinZip from http://www.winzip.com). Then, if you don't already have VBRUN300.DLL in the System sub-directory of your Windows directory, put VBRUN300.ZIP there and unzip it. Start CEL by running CEL.EXE. You can uninstall CEL by deleting its directory.

Download CEL

You will need the following files. To install CEL, see the previous paragraph.

  • NEW (as of 9th Feb 2001) Version 3-Beta is available here. (The files listed below are for Version 2.)

CEL2.ZIP (about 29 KB)
Contains the executable file CEL.EXE (version 2 of CEL), the documentation file CEL2DOC.TXT, the ReadMe file for CEDICT (the dictionary) CEDICT.DOC, and another file needed to run CEL, CMDIALOG.VBX.
CEDICTB5.ZIP (about 391 KB)
The Chinese-English dictionary, Big5-encoded. Unzips to CEDICT.B5. CEDICT is updated from time to time. The version I have here was released on 18th January 2001. The latest Big5 and GB versions of CEDICT are at Erik Peterson's MandarinTools website.
VBRUN300.ZIP (about 226 KB)
The Visual Basic 3.0 runtime file. Unzips to VBRUN300.DLL. You may well have it already in your Windows directory, or the System sub-directory, in which case you need not download it.

Important note for users of Internet Explorer, Word, Outlook, etc.

These Microsoft products place copied Chinese text onto the Clipboard in a form that CEL can not interpret. The problem can be fixed by running a utility called ClipConvert while you are using CEL. The problem does not arise if you are reading Chinese text in other applications including Netscape Navigator, Notepad, and NJStar Chinese Word Processor.

ClipConvert is a freeware utility for Windows 9x and NT 4.x, written by Yves Savourel. See his webpage for ClipConvert.

To download ClipConvert you will need these two files:

ClipCovert1.ZIP (130 Kb)
Contains the executable, on-line help and support for all Windows languages, except Japanese, Chinese and Korean. To install: Create a folder and extract all the files in it.
ClipCovert2.ZIP (244 Kb)
Asian codepage tables. Contains support for Japanese, Chinese and Korean. To install: Extract all the files in the folder where ClipConvert.exe is located.
When you fire up ClipConvert you can set various options. To use ClipConvert with CEL:
  • Check the Auto-convert option, and
  • Set the Code set option to Windows/DOS, Traditional Chinese if you are using the Big5 version of the dictionary CEDICT, or Windows/DOS, Simplified Chinese if you are using the GB version.
I have heard from the author of ClipConvert that he is writing a similar utility which doesn't need to be re-configured each time you run it. I'll put a copy of it here when it is released.


If you have questions, comments, suggestions or bug reports, please send them to me (Richard Warmington) at the following address:

richwarm AT iprimus.com.au (but replace AT with @)