A Dream of Red Mansions - Anasoft A & Anasoft B
Special Plain-Text Editions for GBK and Big5, After Repeated Amendments
* These electronic documents can be distributed and downloaded freely.
We collected some Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese versions of A Dream of Red Mansions (also Dream of the Red Chamber, or The Story of the Stone, or 红楼梦 in Simplified Chinese and 紅樓夢 in Traditional Chinese). Our original intention was to do some Simplified Chinese - Traditional Chinese conversion tests and studies based on it. However, we failed to find a complete and pure Big5-coded Traditional Chinese version of this novel. Many characters are missing (displayed as boxes or blank spaces, or no placeholders at all and simply missing) in some versions we found on the Internet. In some other Traditional Chinese versions, a lot of non-Big5 characters are used (so if we save these versions into Big5 plain-text, these characters could not be displayed properly). There are still some characters missing directly in the second type. The current situation makes it difficult for Traditional Chinese readers that prefer files or text in Big5.
There are two reasons. One, this novel was written in the middle of the Qing Dynasty. Descriptions with wordings of that time on the social realities of that time, as well as a lot of citations and references of more ancient classic stories, poems and lyrics are widely involved to extend its touches to the whole Chinese culture since very ancient time. Such a deep information load is too heavy for the Big5 character set. On the other hand, perhaps because of this reason, maybe for their worries about the possible undermining on the accuracy and integrity of this novel, or they are uncomfortable facing this hard task, Traditional Chinese Red Mansions researchers in Hong Kong and Taiwan haven't produced a fully Big5-friendly version of Red Mansions, at least we haven't found one after a long time search on the Internet.
As the researcher and developer of plain-text software working between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, we decided to take this mission and make a fully Big5-friendly Traditional Chinese version of A Dream of Red Mansions. We started with a Traditional Chinese version (released by Professor HSU Fu-chang at National Taiwan University) and a Simplified Chinese version (source untraceable). We checked a large number of documents and made vast amendments manually or with the help of computer means, and prepared two packages (with 5 versions in each package). Notes about the amendment:
Packages, Versions and Conversion Pack
As the two original versions are quite different in detail (they are somewhat different from each other in almost every line), we haven't merge them into one final edition, but amended them and produced two final packages separately. They were named:
1) Package 1: Anasoft A
2) Package 2: Anasoft B
There are 5 versions in Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese in each package:
3 plain-text versions: Simplified Chinese in GBK, Traditional Chinese in GBK, Traditional Chinese in GBK
2 PDF versions, delicately typeset: Simplified Chinese in PDF, Traditional Chinese in PDF
You can use our special Simplified Chinese - Traditional Chinese conversion pack - Red Mansions (Anasoft) - to convert between the three plain-text versions.
STGuru 3.3 or above version is required for this pack to work perfectly. This conversion pack applies for both Anasoft A and Anasoft B.
There are thousands of amendments for each package, including those made by computer means. Details:
1) Made the Traditional Chinese versions fully Big5 compatible
As Anasoft B is originally based on a GBK Simplified Chinese version, only Anasoft A was involved. We changed those Simplified Chinese character in this package to the corresponding Traditional Chinese counterparts (within Big5). There were some rare characters that are not "Simplified" but also not found in the Big5 set. We changed them to their variants, synonyms, near-synonyms, or characters similar only in the forms in Big5. There were also characters that do not have counterparts in Big5, we described them instead of using them, such as "一味的床（原字為左口右床）酒".
2) Made the Simplified Chinese versions fully GBK compatible
The GBK character set is about 40% larger than the Big5 set, so it is easier for a Simplified Chinese version to be fully GBK compatible. However, there were still a few rare characters that were not in the GBK set. In this case, we changed them to their variants, synonyms, near-synonyms, or characters similar only in the forms in GBK. There were also characters that do not have similar counterparts in GBK, we described them instead of using them, such as "一味的床（原字为左口右床）酒".
3) Standardized characters
4) Fixed typos
Fixed obvious typos - characters or punctuation marks, whenever we found them.
5) Other amendments
Such as amendments for content missing, repetition, unrecognizable code, not unified phrase, chapter formatting, not unified forms for proper terms, single-byte digits, characters, punctuation marks (changed to double-byte ones), random, not unified, not elegant spacing, punctuation, lining and page layout, etc.
6) Built Simplified Chinese -Traditional Chinese conversion pack and made multiple versions
Then we made a Simplified Chinese - Traditional Chinese conversion pack and tested it repetitively to be firmly qualified, with which we extend each package from the original one Traditional Chinese version (Anasoft A) or Simplified Chinese version (Anasoft B) to 3 plain-text versions - Simplified Chinese in GBK, Traditional Chinese in GBK and Big5, and made sure they can be converted between each other with this one pack in one turn.
We for Anasoft A & B, made the Simplified Chinese versions in Microsoft Word (.doc), delicately formatted them, and based on which we made the Traditional Chinese Word version with STGuru's Word conversion function. Finally, the PDF versions were produced based on the Word versions.
7) Means, tools, resources and procedures
STGuru was used all through. A dedicated conversion pack was set up, through the testing of which the core character libraries of STGuru were fully rechecked and amended to make sure of top quality. Many STGuru's many other tools (redundant line handling, character occurrence statistics, batch replace, text difference check, page cleaning macros, etc.) were used. Besides, we also used dedicatedly designed programs, third-party professional software, professional Internet resources on Chinese characters and Red Mansions. We also consulted with some researchers and fans on this novel personally on some details. This project, fitfully, lasted for 7 months in total.