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Small secrets of Chinese input
Most popular systems of inputting characters in Chinese computing are pinyin and zhuyin.
Since the learning of zhuyin alphabet is not included into typical university courses of Chinese language, this system is not actual for us. Moreover, to type zhuyin the special zhuyinized keyboard is necessary. Do you have one?
Generally, if you learned Chinese phonetics via contemporary and comprehensive system of pinyin, you should use zhuyin only when it is unavoidable.
Pinyin is much comfortable for sinologists. To type phonetics with latin letters is quite natural and tenseless. But there is a little problem which do not have an obvious solution. The question is the letter ü. As you know, there's no such a key on keyboard. But, for example, besides the syllable of lu, there also is the syllable of lü. In commercial software the problem is solved simply: a letter of v is entered instead of ü.
Unfortunately, the wonderful IME macro by Erik Peterson do not utilize this typical solution. You must input lu and then browse entire list of characters, because the hieroglyphs pronounced lü are at the end.
Width of a character
Chinese input software have a function of choosing between full-width and half-width characters. The matter is that the ideograms of Oriental languages are twice wider than the letters of Latin alphabet. It could be exactly seen in older IME versions for DOS, where it was needed to remove wrongly input character by striking Backspace key twice.
If to choose half-width, the hieroglyphs will be full-wide and the punctuation marks and non-hieroglyphic symbols will be half-wide. But it is usual for Chinese typographics that all the symbols must have full-width. In order to have a genuine Chinese shape, your hieroglyphic texts must be typed in full-width.
Not only hieroglyphs can be Chinese. There are Chinese punctuation marks as well. They have somehow different shape. Some Chinese input software have an option of Chinese punctuation. Below there are the examples of primary punctuation marks and their input keys (as for MS Global IME):
The standart IME from Microsoft has a strong point that it has no conflicts with Windows, but is far from being an ideal input tool. For instance, there are hieroglyphs that cannot be input from the keyboard.
Here is the real example. In Macau there is the district of Taipa 氹仔 (dangzi in putonghua). The hieroglyph 氹 is considered as traditional, while its simplified analog is not simpler: 凼. But both of them can not be input by pinyin function of Microsoft Global IME.
In such cases the users of Windows 2000 and Windows XP can enjoy the capability of Character Map the system utility that can be found through the main menu: Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools. The hieroglyph can be chosen from the table by radicals (similar to dictionary search) and copied to the clipboard, then inserted into the MS Word document. But the possessers of Windows 9x can not use this function: the character map in these systems does not operate with Unicode.
But the way out exists. At the webpage http://www.babelstone.co.uk/ there are the links to the programs created by the page owner Andrew West. Among them there is BabelMap the character map with Unicode support for Windows 9x.
BabelMap is installed by simple copying the executable file and the help file to the directory of your choice. Create the shortcut for the program and begin to work. The help file is quite informative, I only point out most necessary action:
When our task is to insert the character that can not be found through IME, we do not know its code within the codepage. There are three square buttons in the bottom of BabelMap's main window: CJK Radical Lookup Utility, CJK Pinyin Lookup Utility, Yi Radical Lookup Utility. The first two are of interest for us.
Let's choose the CJK Radical Lookup Utility.
Now we are searching for the necessary 氹. The key radical for it is 水 shui water. Let's choose water from the table of radicals.
There appeared two waters in the search results window: 水 water properly and 氵 three-strokes water (三点水). Then we have to determine the number of additional strokes in the character. The remained strokes are presented by the radical of 乙 yi second. It consists of one stroke. In the window of Additional Strokes we have to choose 1. The result is below:
Let's choose the necessary 氹 from the results.
Then we can look for other hieroglyphs. When all necessary characters are found and appear in Edit Buffer window, we press the Copy button, and they become copied to the clipboard; from there we can insert them into the MS Word document.
We also can enjoy the phonetic search. Let's choose the CJK Pinyin Lookup Utility.
Let's choose DANG from the list of syllables, then mark Tone 4. After pressing the Find button we get the list of results. Our 氹 is there.
We choose it, and it appear in the Edit Buffer window.
What to do next, we already know.
© Dmitry Alemasov
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