Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chinese Alphabet - How to use Chinese Keyboards

The most common Chinese keyboard are Hanyu pinyin-based, representing the pronunciation of characters using Latin letters. First, decide whether you are going to input your information phonetically or using root shapes (characters).

However, keyboards with labels for alternative structural input methods such as Wubi method can also be found, although those are usually very old products and are extremely rare to this day.

Lets start with the Wubi method. Note that the Wubi method tends to be found on older computers and is extremely rare these days. None the less, it is worth noting because it helps us understand the development of Chinese information inputting. 




The Wubizixing input method (simplified Chinese五笔字型输入法traditional Chinese五筆字型輸入法pinyinwǔbǐ zìxíng shūrùfǎ; literally "five stroke character model input method"), often abbreviated to simply Wubi or Wubi Xing. It is a method of inputting Chinese characters, by inputting simplified Chinese text directly into the computer. 

The method is also known as Wang Ma (simplified Chinese王码traditional Chinese王碼pinyinWáng mǎ; literally "Wang's code"), named after the inventor Wang Yongmin (王永民). 
There are three Wubi versions that are considered to be standard:Wubi 86Wubi 98Wubi 18030 and Wubi New-century (the 3rd-generation Version). The latter three can also be used to input traditional Chinese text, albeit in a more limited way. Wubi 86 is the most widely known and used shape-based Input Method for full letter keyboards in Mainland China.

WUBI - Structure of Characters - NOT phonetic

The Wubi method is based on the structure of characters rather than their pronunciation, making it possible to input characters even when you do not know the pronunciation, as well as not being too closely linked to any particular spoken variety of Chinese. It is also extremely efficient: every character can be written with at most 4 keystrokes. In practice, most characters can be written with fewer. There are reports of experienced typists reaching 160 characters per minute with Wubi.
 What this means in the context of Chinese is not entirely the same as it is for English, but it is true that Wubi is extremely fast when used by an experienced typist. The main reason for this is that, unlike with traditional phonetic input methods, one does not have to spend time selecting the desired character from a list of homo-phonic possibilities: virtually all characters have a unique representation.

PHONETIC INPUT TYPING

This method is easier to do, but will take the typist longer. This is based on the pin-yin system. Pin yin is one of the first things we learn when learning Chinese. I have gone over the pin-yin system several times on my i-pod. 

This system is like the Latin system, where we write the words phonetically. They are sounds strung together to make words. As chinese writing s about characters, it will certainly take longer to do this. 



















There are several other character based typing systems.


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