At one time, Chinese had a serious "keyboard problem", but it's been largely solved by keyboards like Wubizixing ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wubizixing [wikipedia.org] ) and Wubihua. At the simple end, Wubihua assigns 5 keys to the most fundamental strokes used to write Chinese: horizontal, vertical, left-falling, right-falling/dot, and hooked/complex. You press the keys corresponding to at least the first 4 strokes, then press the key corresponding to the last, and it presents you with a list of plausible characters that match. The more keys you press, the smaller the list gets, until you're left with either an unambiguous match or you've entered all the strokes.

Other methods, like Wubizixing, go a step further, and assign keys to the radicals themselves (if you think of characters as being like molecules, radicals are atoms, and strokes are quarks; in English terms, characters are words or stems, radicals are letters, and strokes are the way you'd write those letters... like "vertical, vertical, horizontal" for "uppercase H"). Somebody who's good at typing on a Wubizixing keyboard with the key-cadence of somebody who types English at ~100wpm can achieve an equivalent word-rate of about 120-150wpm (because Wubizixing makes more efficient use of the keys on the keyboard, and requires fewer keystrokes per communicated-word than English QWERTY).

The irony is that most people in China are amazed when they first encounter a Westerner who can type on a Wubi keyboard (-hua OR -zixing), because they think they're "too hard" to use. The reality is that stroke-based input is REALLY the only way somebody who doesn't know how to speak Chinese CAN enter characters on a keyboard. There's definitely room for algorithm-improvement in a "westerner-friendly" stroke-based input method, but I can guarantee that whatever we end up with ~10 years from now, it's going to look more like Wubi than anything else. It'll just be more forgiving of someone who enters "zhong" (level 'o' tone) as "vertical, horizontal, vertical, horizontal, vertical" (or some other permutation) instead of "vertical, hook, horizontal, vertical" (just to give one example).

As for "too hard", Wubizixing really isn't any harder for someone in China to master than QWERTY is for someone in the US. For geeks who type all day, every day, nonstop, it's a skill that pays HUGE personal dividends. For people who think computers in general are "hard to use", it doesn't really matter whether they're American or Chinese... they'll dick around with two-finger hunt & peck or Pinyin input, and endlessly predict the death of keyboards in favor of speech recognition. The rest of us, American and Chinese, will laugh at them and keep typing 120-150wpm while they struggle to send email and text messages with amusing autocorrect errors.


Keyboard method for typing Chinese characters.

Folksonomies: todo chinese characters chinese typing

stroke-based input (0.936104 (negative:-0.147646)), keyboard (0.907636 (positive:0.036476)), amusing autocorrect errors (0.890695 (negative:-0.476703)), HUGE personal dividends (0.877278 (positive:0.725043)), stroke-based input method (0.870500 (positive:0.342518)), strokes (0.844076 (negative:-0.275723)), keys (0.825222 (positive:0.211984)), keyboard problem (0.783198 (negative:-0.268322)), fundamental strokes (0.778015 (neutral:0.000000)), Keyboard method (0.772941 (positive:0.455322)), Wubi keyboard (0.771866 (positive:0.289700)), assign keys (0.736418 (negative:-0.304576)), Wubizixing keyboard (0.725221 (neutral:0.000000)), characters (0.723281 (negative:-0.032736)), key corresponding (0.702117 (neutral:0.000000)), unambiguous match (0.700332 (neutral:0.000000)), Chinese characters (0.697698 (positive:0.455322)), fewer keystrokes (0.697402 (neutral:0.000000)), plausible characters (0.695615 (positive:0.459532)), simple end (0.691461 (neutral:0.000000)), equivalent word-rate (0.686445 (neutral:0.000000)), QWERTY). (0.685816 (neutral:0.000000)), Pinyin input (0.677254 (neutral:0.000000)), English terms (0.674527 (neutral:0.000000)), speech recognition (0.666588 (negative:-0.378759)), text messages (0.662991 (negative:-0.476703)), two-finger hunt (0.661455 (neutral:0.000000)), somebody (0.611968 (negative:-0.490163)), radicals (0.590696 (negative:-0.240892)), keyboards (0.529693 (negative:-0.378759))

Wubizixing:Person (0.766400 (negative:-0.060905)), China:Country (0.449772 (negative:-0.167122))

Chinese input methods for computers (0.983116): dbpedia | freebase
Chinese language (0.481440): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Wubi method (0.425706): website | dbpedia | freebase
Keyboard layout (0.418947): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Wubihua method (0.412506): dbpedia | freebase
Chinese character (0.406475): website | dbpedia | opencyc | yago
Pinyin (0.397678): dbpedia | freebase | yago
China (0.379895): geo | dbpedia | ciaFactbook | freebase

 400 Million Chinese Cannot Speak Mandarin
Electronic/World Wide Web>Message Posted to Online Forum/Discussion Group:  Miamicanes, (09/08/2013), 400 Million Chinese Cannot Speak Mandarin, Retrieved on 2013-09-09
  • Source Material [politics.slashdot.org]
  • Folksonomies: chinese