Chinese keyboards

Sanja   Sunday, August 22, 2004, 16:56 GMT
I've always wondered what Chinese keyboards look like. Do they have 3000 characters?
Midori   Sunday, August 22, 2004, 19:12 GMT
No. It's just like a regular keyboard Americans use. (You know, the ABC type.) I am from Taiwan, but the keyboard has spelling instead of characters.
For example: In America, we type the letters a-p-p-l-e to form the word apple. We just type letters and squeeze them together; but it's different for Chinese.We use another system of small characters to form words/characters.
These are the "small characters" I was talking about:
(If you can't see them, click the right mouse button to "Encoding" for "Chinese Traditional (Big5)".
ETC. There are 37 small characters. x__X
Random Chappie   Sunday, August 22, 2004, 21:22 GMT
No, Antimoon is impotent when it comes to encodings. Even if you set the browser encoding to BIG5, you still can't read traditional Chinese here. The same applies to Cyrillic (i.e. Russian) letters, Japanese characters, etc.

But yes, I have seen Chinese keyboards before and there's nothing out of the ordinary about them except that the keys have both Roman alphabet letters and Chinese "small characters" (are they called "radicals" on them. You need to have special settings in Microsoft Windows or special software to "assemble" Chinese chararcters on screen.

A visual example:
Suppose a character consists of a vertically-oriented rectangle on the left, a triangle in the upper right corner, a circle in the lower right corner, and a large square surrounding the three smaller shapes. You would press the keys for the large square, the vertically-oriented rectangle, the triangle, and the circle on the keyboard. A panel would appear on the screen showing you all the possible arrangements in which the shapes can be combined to form characters and you would select the character you wish to imput.
Random Chappie   Sunday, August 22, 2004, 21:24 GMT
" (are they called 'radicals'?) " was supposed to appear in brackets, as shown here, and was meant as a question.
Ed   Monday, August 23, 2004, 00:05 GMT
Wow, assembling all the parts of the character seems like a lot of work - I imagine it would take forever to write an essay, for example.
Random Chappie   Monday, August 23, 2004, 00:57 GMT
"I imagine it would take forever to write an essay."

Well, not as long as it would take to write the essay out by hand! Furthermore, assembling a Chinese character on the computer screen requires only one more keystroke (selection of the desired character) than typing an English word. I've actually seen someone typing out an article in Chinese- one of my colleagues translating a press release into Chinese for a local Chinese newspaper (World Journal). It took him around half an hour to translate and type one page but admittedly, the translation, which went on within his brain, accounted for most of the time.

When the printing press was first conceived in China, long before Gutenberg, it did indeed have thousands of blocks- one for each individual character.
Random Chappie   Monday, August 23, 2004, 01:04 GMT
You can also type Chinese phonetically using Hanyu Pinyin, a system of phonetic transliteration in the Roman Alphabet. The same principle applies: you enter the phonetic transliteration of the word (e.g. "ma") as you would type an English word, then you select the exact word you want from the menu (e.g. character for "mother", "horse", "scold", or "numb"). I believe this typing method is more popular in the People's Republic than on the offshore islands.
Sanja   Monday, August 23, 2004, 15:49 GMT
Well, typing in Chinese really seems to be very complicated. But thanks for the answers, now I have the idea.