How do the Chinese type computers if they have thousands of characters in their language?


wiseGEEK Writing Contest

The Chinese use many different types of keyboards, and software to input data into systems. The majority of Chinese keyboards contain the letters of the Roman alphabet, as well as their Chinese character's equal. They use the Roman alphabet as the basic first step for inputing data into computers. There are many different types of Chinese keyboards, and in comparison, they do not look, or function the same. The Chinese do not utilize a standard keyboard system similar to those found where more "basic" languages exist. The Pinyin method is much like text-edit on a cell phone. Software detects the use, and meaning of words in the sentence structure, then guesses the best word the user intends to type. A pop-up list of possible words may appear, if needed, and the user picks from the list of available words to implement in the text. Another widely used keyboard method is called Wubi. Users push in a sequence of keys related to how the characters are drawn. Software detects the intended word, and implements the character(s). Speed typists use this method, and are able to produce up to 160 characters per minute. Older individuals who are used to old fashion writing methods may use an electronic writing tablet. They write the characters as they would on paper, the computers recognizes them, and implements them into the sentence structure. The Chinese appear to have a more personalized data entry system designed for the abilities, and comfort of the user.

Furthermore, there are fourty or more types of keyboard systems ranging from Arabic, to Turkish, which utilize the language's symbols, and characters. Most have three rows of characters. The keyboard has been around for a long time. It was invented in 1864. A few years down the road, a man named Christopher Latham Shole developed the first type-writer in 1872. Sholes noticed when people typed rapidly, the keys would jam. He tried to fix the problem for six months, and finally came up with a solution. He arranged the letters on the keyboard in order force the typist to slow down. After slowing down the typist, the type-writer didn't jam as often. We still use the way he arranged the keys today.

The keyboards official name is the "Qwerty" after the first top row of letters. Look to the top-left to see for yourself. The keyboard has come a long way. How far will it go? Michael Kanellos recently developed an ergonomic keyboard that plays off the natural strength of the hand. The greatest hurdle of using new keyboard configurations is for people to learn the layout of the keys. To some, it just doesn't make sense.

Technology has taken keyboards to the next level. They range in size from tiny, to huge, and some are even water-proof. Voice recognition technology has become more widely used, and allows the user to speak the words onto the page. What the future of data-entry holds, nobody knows. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

submitted by James Bonner