Re: how does a chinese keyboard input....

From: Thomas Chan (
Date: Tue Oct 03 2000 - 12:01:49 EDT

On Mon, 2 Oct 2000, Viranga Ratnaike wrote:

> What are the different ways that chinese characters can be input?
> Apologies for not actually answering the question. I'm curious to
> know what techniques exist out there.

The best English-language overview I know of is in Ken Lunde's _CJKV
Information Processing_ (Sebastapol, CA: O'Reilly, 1999), although he does
not completely elaborate on all the details of the non-Japanese methods.
(Granted, there are entire books written on some of them, like Cangjie--
but not in English.)

The most basic is a code-like mapping, like an index number in a
dictionary, the raw hex value, or a telegraph code. Very few people can
use these. Most common among casual users are the phonetic-based ones,
where one enters the reading of the character and picks the right one from
a list of choices (more sophisticated software will accept compounds or
sentences, or guess contextually). Others use graphically-oriented ones,
where one breaks up the character into small components, and enters a few
keystrokes, providing 1-to-1 mapping most of the time, unlike the phonetic
ones; at higher levels of proficiency, one no longer "disassembles" but
touch-types from finger memory. Each kind has its pros and cons.

There's a Flash animation that shows the most common ones at . Many others exist, and
continue to be invented, so it is impossible to document them all,
especially since even the common ones vary between products.

Thomas Chan

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