Zhongwen: A Chinese Pop Up Translator for Chrome

Here’s another one for all you Chinese-learning Google Chrome users out there- this follows suit after our previous post about the Perapera-kun Chinese translator plugin for Firefox. Likewise, Zhongwen is a Google Chrome extension that brings up pop-up translations of Chinese characters and words from webpages that you are browsing.

 

The Zhongwen plugin translates both traditional and simplified Chinese characters into English, and uses the popular CEDICT Chinese English dictionary to do so. Most importantly, it also shows the Hanyu Pinyin along both the simplified and traditional characters.

Installing the Zhongwen plugin is quite a bit easier than the Perapera-kun plugin. All you need to do is navigate to the Zhongwen plugin page and click install; no separate dictionary file installation is required. Activating the plugin for use just requires you to click the plugin button in your browser, and mousing over Chinese characters will automatically call the translation popup to show.

Zhongwen Google Chrome Chinese Dictionary Popup Extension

 

Zhongwen Google Chrome Chinese Dictionary Popup Extension

 

To get started with the Zhongwen Extension:

1. Get the Google Chrome browser

2. Install the Zhongwen Extension

Happy surfing!

Perapera-kun: A Chinese Pop Up Translator for Firefox

I wanted to highlight an awesome translator pop-up tool for those who use the Firefox internet browser, called Perapera-kun. Perapera-kun is an extension add-on for Firefox that acts as a pop-up translator for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, into English or German. I haven’t tried out the Korean, Japanese, or German dictionaries, but the Chinese-to-English dictionary provides translated meanings of words, and also the pinyin pronunciation of the word. This is a great tool to have if you’re wanting to venture into the Chinese net-space to browse some local BBS forums or news sites.

 

 

To get started with Perapera-kun:

1. Get the Firefox browser

2. Install the Perapera-kun add-on

3. Install the Chinese-to-English dictionary file

(Note: The Perapera-kun website is hosted on a WordPress site, which is blocked by the Chinese firewall. Here is a direct link to the Chinese-to-English dictionary file)

Happy surfing!

Wubi and Pinyin – Which Chinese Character Input Method?

Chinese Input Method KeyboardWriting Chinese characters by hand is a confusing task of memorizing strokes and characters, but the use of computers has made it slightly easier- perhaps an unfortunate blessing since I’ve heard time and time again from local coworkers how their grasp of writing out Chinese characters has regressed because they only now need to recognize characters due to their constant use of Chinese input methods. There are many types of input methods available; some which are based on pronunciation, while others on character structure, character set or a combination of pronunciation and character structure. I’d like to talk about two of the popular Chinese character input method editors (IME): Pinyin and Wubi.

Pinyin (拼音输入法)

Pinyin Chinese Input MethodThe Pinyin IME (拼音输入法 pin1yin1 shu1ru4fa3) allows users to input Chinese characters by typing in the pinyin of a Chinese character, and the Pinyin IME then presents the user with a list of characters with that pinyin pronunciation. The advantage of the pinyin input method is that it’s very easy to learn for Mandarin speakers, since those who are familiar with pinyin will already be able to input Chinese characters with almost no training, which is not the case with other input methods. The Pinyin IME is very popular in mainland China, since children are already required to learn pinyin in school. However the Pinyin IME was created based on the pronunciation of standard-Mandarin so native Mandarin speakers who speak with accents will have a hard time distinguishing a number of similar sounding syllables, such as c and ch, s and sh, z and zh, n and ng, h or hu and f, or n and l. Moreover, Chinese dialect speakers who don’t know pinyin, or speak Mandarin, will not be able to use this input method at all.

Wubizixing (五笔字型输入法)

Wubi Chinese Input MethodThe Wubi IME, short for The Wubizixing (五笔字型输入法 wu3bi3zi4xing2shu1ru4fa3) allows users to input Chinese characters based on the structure of characters rather than their pronunciation, making it possible to enter Chinese characters even when the user doesn’t know the pronunciation, or if the user speaks a dialect of Chinese. As the name suggets, the Wubi 五笔 (wu3bi3) IME divides the keyboard into five regions, which is assigned a certain type of character stroke, which allows for the user to efficiently write characters with at most 4 keystrokes. Another efficiency in using Wubi over phonetic character input methods, is that users don’t have to select characters from a list of similar homo-phonic choices, and so there’s a greater ability for a Wubi typist to ‘touch’ type without having to look at the computer screen. However, a major drawback to learning Wubi is that it has a high learning curve, and requires memorization and practice for a user to use it proficiently.

Which Input Method?

My recommendation for choosing between these two Chinese character input methods would be to consider your goal for typing Chinese. If you aim to be a professional Chinese typist, and need to input Chinese characters at a high rate, then it may be well worth your time to learn the Wubi IME system. However, if you are a standard-Mandarin speaker, and only need to input Chinese for casual computer use such as online chatting and surfing, then the Pinyin IME system will be more than sufficient for your needs.

Are you a well versed Chinese typist? Share your views on these two Chinese character input methods, or any other input method that you may be using already, in the comments below.

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