Navigating Chinese on the web: browser add-ons

Since I am trying to actively increase my Chinese skills, I want to be able to expand that to my everyday life. And that includes browsing the web. I found a couple of very good browser add-ons that make things a little easier for me.

When I am searching for things in Chinese, I search for and browse sites from Taiwan. Sometimes I’ll read an English site that has Chinese and it tends to be in simplified characters. Typically I just look at the characters and try to figure it out, but I don’t make a big effort to find out what the characters are in the traditional form. One site I’ve constantly had problems with is Wikipedia. The default setting is simplified characters and in able to see traditional characters, the “/wiki/” part in the web address needs to be changed to “/zh-hant/”. This doesn’t stick so it needs to be changed for each web page. The only way to make it stick is to sign up for a Wikipedia account and set it in preferences. I found a way around it, which is to use a browser plug-in called 新同文堂 (New Tong Wen Tang). With a push of a button, the page will change from simplified characters to traditional characters and vice versa. It is available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. This way I’ll stop ignoring simplified characters. I can change it to traditional characters and make an attempt at reading.

Every once in a while, I’ll stumble upon a character that I sort-of know or can guess its pronunciation based on the nearby characters. Now I can be sure by using a plug-in called perapera. I’m not using all the features because all I really need is to know the 注音 for the character. I’ve turned off pinyin, definitions, and coloring tones on my browser, but I’m sure other people will find those things useful. I think overall I am more studious in my online reading since I can easily figure out a character.


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