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Java tools for learning and maintaining Chinese: Self-quiz on Chinese surnames

To launch: Click here

Version: 1.0 (beta)


This program helps you learn, or review, Chinese surnames. It includes two sets, one basic and one advanced. The former comprises commonly seen surnames; the latter includes a few that are fairly common, others that are encountered now and then, and still others that are quite rare. Even the advanced set is by no means exhaustive, though.


Your computer should have Java (the Java Runtime Environment) installed.

You may need to enable your computer's support for East Asian languages if it is not already activated. In particular, at least one Unicode-friendly (UTF8) Chinese font is required.


Launching the program shuffles the set of surnames and brings up a window displaying one from the basic set.

You may work with either the mouse or the keyboard. To use the keyboard, whether at the outset or after having clicked buttons with the mouse, it is necessary first to click once inside the center area of the main window.

Clicking the "Traditional" button (T on the keyboard), the "Simplified" button (S on the keyboard), or the "Pinyin" button (P on the keyboard), shows the traditional version, the simplified version and the phonetic representation, respectively, of the current character.

Checking and unchecking the "Advanced Set" box toggles between the advanced and basic sets.

To quiz yourself, click "Correct" for each item you know and "Wrong" for each item you do not, or press C or W on the keyboard. The program keeps track of your progress. After working your way through the entire set, or at any time, you may wish to click "Sort" to bring the characters you got wrong to the top of the set for further review. Shuffling the set, of course, randomly rearranges it.

Instead of quizzing yourself, or while doing so, you may also browse through the set of characters. They are arranged in a grid pattern just like a spreadsheet. The arrow keys, the home key, and the end key are available for navigation. If you check "Auto-Browse," the program will flip through the characters one by one.

Feedback: Comments, suggestions (for example, characters that should be added), and bug reports are welcome.

Click here for a self-quiz on traditional vs. simplified characters.