CJK question

From: Allen Haaheim (haaheima@interchange.ubc.ca)
Date: Fri Mar 21 2003 - 14:47:35 EST

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    First my apologies if I have missed something already available on the Unicode website that I should have already known, as well as for my total lack of expertise in the fields commonly under discussion in this forum. If anyone knows of a more appropriate place towards which I should direct my woes, I would be glad to hear of it.

    I work with Classical Chinese texts which contain numerous characters not in any character sets I use (Arial Unicode MS; CJK Unified Ideographs), or know of. I was delighted to see that most--if not all--of the graphs I need are in Unicode charts. However they all seem to be images, so it seems that I cannot use them. I need to be able to both input and display the rare graphs in my MS system. As far as I can tell, what I may need to do is add characters to my existing character sets, or get new character sets altogether.

    For example, in a website I commonly use to view reliable, annotated editions of source texts www.chant.org (Chinese Ancient Texts Center at the Chinese U of Hong Kong), I frequently encounter blank spaces where rare graphs are located. (I have downloaded all their fontpacks.)

    Third-party layovers with "font-maker" utilities such as Twinbridge or Chinese Star are too unstable, in my experience causing frequent crashes. Furthermore they are not always convertible to or compatible with unicode. The most stable setup I have found for a PC is a localized version of Win2000, however the MS input methods for Chinese are much too cumbersome and slow, cover only a portion of the language, of course have no font-maker utility, and do not even seem to be able to retrieve all the graphs stored in my existing character sets.

    Besides Chinese and Japanese graphs, I also need to occasionally enter Latin or other letters with diacritical marks, such as romanized Sanskrit (for Buddhist terms), IPA symbols, and others, but I cannot always find them in the character sets I have. Some of you should get a chuckle (or a groan) to learn that I'm manually searching through character sets in "Insert (drop-down); Symbol..." in MS Word 2000 to find them. Of course their location gets memorized after a while--but this gets more difficult with CJK graphs! (They're not true ideographs, by the way--they are mostly logographic.)

    I realize there may be no easy solution for my problem, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    From a frustrated sinologist,

    Allen Haaheim

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