WhatTCSay Teochew language learning app now available for FREE & the story behind

Some time ago The Teochew Store did a review of What Teochew Say (WhatTCSay), an amazing English-Teochew dictionary and phrasebook mobile app. We are delighted to inform that the Android (Android 3.0 and up) and Apple versions of this app, originally selling for US$1.99, can now be downloaded for FREE at Google Play  and iTunes App Store respectively. On behalf of many learners of the Teochew language we'd like to express a loud gumxia (感谢) to the two developers of WhatTCSay Ty Eng Lim and Khiem Lam for their generous gesture.

You may read the announcement for the reasons why they decided to make the app free here on their official blog.

The Story Behind WhatTCSay 

Both Ty and Khiem are from the US, which surely arouses curiousity. Why would two young Teochews living far out in the West want to develop a Teochew language app? And how did they do it? To fnd out, The Teochew Store (TTS) spoke to Ty of WhatTCSay:

 

TTS: Can you briefly introduce to us what WhatTCSay is and what are some of its key features?

Ty: WhatTCSay (What Teochew Say) is the world’s first English-Teochew and phrasebook app for iOS and Android that we are know of. It was originally released back in 2012. The content is organized into everyday conversational topics and subtopics.  

 

TTS: Who should use the app and where are most of your downloaders from?

 Ty: Anyone who wants to have a quick and handy reference tool for Teochew phrases. It is most popular in English-speaking countries like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Singapore, but we have had folks from all over the world download it. Most folks are Teochew heritage speakers who already speak at least some Teochew and appreciate the chance to brush up on it. There are also those who have Teochew friends or lovers and have taken it upon themselves to learn a little of the language with our app.

 

TTS: What are some of the user responses like?

Ty: One of the most common responses I hear from folks is that they are quite grateful that something like this exists at all. Resources on Teochew language are few and far between. Many people find it quite novel that there is a standard way of writing Teochew, both in Romanized and Chinese character form.

 

TTS: We understand that you were part of a team responsible for an online English-Teochew dictionary at the Gaginang.org website and later the WhatTCSay app. What inspired you to wish to create these language tools and what do you hope to achieve through them?

Ty: The team for What Teochew Say consists of myself, Ty Lim, and Khiem Lam. Khiem manages the technical side: development, testing, and support of the app. I manage the content and the visual design.  Other tasks were shared between us and with help from others. Gaginang.org is a nonprofit organization (NGO) based in the US, a separate entity, for which I was the co-founder.  The Gaginang website featured a searchable dictionary that dates back to something like 2006. The What Teochew say app took some it’s lexical database from the Gaginang.org dictionary but expanded upon more than five-fold.

For both of us, we were motivated to work on this project because we didn’t see anything else out there for Teochew. We hoped that they would be useful for anyone who wanted to learn Teochew, including myself.

 

TTS: From conception, to the launch of WhatTCSay. How long did the process take and how difficult was it getting resources and help since you were based in the US?

Ty: From start to finish, producing both versions of the app took about one year. We started brainstorming the project back in the first half of 2012. I had already collected maybe half of the total 4000+ words from years and years of handwritten notes, notebooks, paper dictionaries and various older spreadsheets. I asked many folks from Gaginang.org to help me review as well. All of this vocabulary would wind up on the app, but needed many more data entry and fine-tuning. Khiem worked on the technical front to get our app design, database, and UI to all work nicely with each other. On June 20, 2012, we launched a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter. We didn’t feel at all certain the folks would fully fund the $3000 that we asked for in 30 days, but we were pleasantly surprised that we were funded $4,832 (161% of our original goal)! To me, this was validation that we were doing something awesome. The app was released on iOS August 15, 2012, then on Android on February 9, 2013. I had a lot of fun running the Kickstarter and sending out rewards (t-shirts and caps). The entire process was exciting and touching to know that folks believed in our idea.

 

TTS: From when you first started, to now, what were the most fascinating things you learnt about the Teochew language and the culture? Is Teochew a language or dialect?

Ty: Most fascinating things - probably how diverse Teochew language is. Teochew speakers hail from many different countries and there are varieties from not only Teoswa (China) but also Southeast Asia and beyond. It was great learning vocabulary that I had never heard of - some of it from Southeast Asian languages that have been incorporated by Teochew speakers. My family comes from Cambodia, so it was cool to see which words were unique to Cambodian-Teochew and which were shared with other Teochew varieties. It made my ability to express myself in Teochew much richer and more flexible.

 

TTS: Any plans for similar future projects?

Ty: The app was made free and that we're open to working with developers and designers to collaborate on continuing to improve the app now that we open sourced the code for the app.

Currently, there aren’t plans to work on any new projects, but we are open to ideas!

Interested developers and designers can contact WhatTCSay through their official blog-site.


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Comment on this post (11 comments)

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  • Rusdi Rusli says...

    Cool apps… i myself am trying to learn chinese character… my grandad was from kekyo… ciekyang.. i spoke fluent teochew. Last year around april dad mum, I and our laucek .. grand dad brother who resides in hongkong went to swatauw to visit our laucek’s sister. We also visited teochew… and went to nam o tao in swatauw. Being an indonesian nationality, us, my children mainly speak indonesian n english. Having found your apps I told them they could learn teochew through this apps and could start trying to chat up with their granddad….

    February 01, 2017

  • Rusdi Rusli says...

    Cool apps… i myself am trying to learn chinese character… my grandad was from kekyo… ciekyang.. i spoke fluent teochew. Last year around april dad mum, I and our laucek .. grand dad brother who resides in hongkong went to swatauw to visit our laucek’s sister. We also visited teochew… and went to nam o tao in swatauw. Being an indonesian nationality, us, my children mainly speak indonesian n english. Having found your apps I told them they could learn teochew through this apps and could start trying to chat up with their granddad….

    February 01, 2017

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