Re: Kang Jie introduction?

From: Thomas Chan (
Date: Mon Jan 08 2001 - 14:35:25 EST

On Mon, 8 Jan 2001, [utf-8] Ayers, Mike wrote:

> I am looking for a tutorial or introduction to Kang Jie typing.
> Kang Jie, sometimes called Chang Jie, as well as some other transliterations
> (none of which I('m quite sure that I'm spelling correctly, as I don't have
> a reference handy), is a language and dialect independent method for typing
> CJK characters (question: is there a general name for [hanzi|kanji|hanja]?)
> based (loosely) on radicals. I have software which permits me to type with
> Kang Jie, bu no idea what to type. Does anyone know how I can get started?

The term in Pinyin romanization would be "Cangjie" (U+5009 U+9821), named
after the mythical inventor of Chinese writing. There are various ad hoc
transliterations like "Changjei" as well. (I don't know where you got
"Kang" from, as the initial consonant is an affricate.)

Cangjie uses a sequence of 1-5 keystrokes from a pool of 25 keys to input
each character. It works well as a pronunciation-independent system for
typing Chinese, but less useful for Japanese or Korean with the constant
switching between kanji and kana, and irrelevance for all-hangul text.

The 24 keys A to W, and Y each stand for a handful of radical-like
components. e.g., Q stands for 'hand' in its full form, as well as the
radical version, as well as some pieces that look like a cross with an
extra horizontal bar. Each character is either an atomic piece, or one
that can be bifurcated (top-bottom, left-right, etc). Of characters that
can be bifurcated, there are some where the second half can be further
bifurcated (thus the ones that seem to be three pieces stacked
horizontally or vertically). What you do is "spell out" the character
using the 24 keys, and there are rules for how many keystrokes (out of a
maximum of five for the entire character) are alloted to each half or
quarter in the case of the bifurcated cases. I think 2-3 or 2-2-1 were
the allocations. Of course the "spelling" is abbreviated--for the piece
that only has three keystrokes allocated to it, you'd type in the first,
second, and last keys. There are also some special macro-like key
sequences for some non-intuitive components, as well as some that use the
X key. The Z key is not used, except as a way to access various symbols.

Cangjie is geared towards "traditional Chinese", and is used in Taiwan and
Hong Kong, although it can be adapted for "simplified Chinese". In the
hands of a proficient typist, the key sequences end up being memorized and
one does not have to look at the screen or the keyboard. While there
isn't a unique mapping from Cangjie key sequences to characters,
collisions are rare, which is a better track record than
pronunciation-based input methods.

Ken Lunde's _CJKV Information Processing_ book provides a partial
description on pp. 243-245 (but not enough for James Bond!), and Dylan
Sung's page at
shows the handful of components that is assigned to each key. There are
other books and websites that explain the system in full, but I believe
they are all written in Chinese. I can elaborate more later on the
exact rules, if you wish.

One of the first examples learned is ming 'bright' (U+660E), which is
entered as "AB". Of course, ri 'day' (U+65E5) is entered trivially as
"A", while yue 'moon' (U+6708) is entered as "B". Of course, yue, an
archaic word for 'to speak' (U+66F0), is also entered as "A".

Thomas Chan

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