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Title:Writing Chinese on the Windows Platform

Topic Poster
Gina 11-08-01 11:06

Writing Chinese on the Windows Platform

This is not intended to be a comprehensive manual to writing Chinese on the Windows platform, but rather a quick and dirty guide to get someone new to Chinese computing going with Microsoft's Pinyin Input Method Editor. For more detailed information on the Pinyin and other Input Method Editors, see Russ Rolfe's 'What is an IME (Input Method Editor) and how do I use it?'. Wikipedia has a comprehensive survey of 'Chinese input methods for computers.'

Chinese language support and input method editor(s) need to be installed before one can write Chinese in a Windows application. If necessary, please first install Chinese language support and input method editor(s) (IME) for Windows 95/98/Me/NT 4.0, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP, or Windows Vista.

Screenshots below are taken from a computer running Windows 2000 Professional with the input editor Chinese (Simplified) - MS-Pinyin98 installed. The icons, language buttons, language bars and IME menus on the other Windows platforms may look a little different from those on Windows 2000 Professional. But the steps for inputting Chinese text are quite similar for the various Windows platforms. Microsoft's Pinyin Input Method Editor functions much the same in its different versions.

  1. Once Chinese language support and IME have been installed on a Windows computer, there should be a Language button on the taskbar at the bottom of the Windows desktop. If you left click on it, then the language input options you have installed should appear. Scroll to the language option you want (in this case Chinese), and left click to select it as an input option.

  2. As an example, we will write the sentence 'I am Chinese' in Chinese (我是中国人) in Microsoft Word. First open Word, then choose Chinese by clicking on the language button on the taskbar at the bottom of the Windows desktop, and then click on Chinese (PRC), as specified in section (1). Note that on the right hand side of the taskbar, instead of , you have .

  3. You also get near the lower right corner of the desktop a menu for the options in Chinese (Simplified) - MS-Pinyin98.

    The default input mode is Chinese, as indicated by the button, the first on the menu. If you click on it, you change the input mode to English, as changes to on the menu. Change the input mode back to Chinese by clicking on the toggle button . The fifth button on the left, , allows toggling between simplified and traditional Chinese characters (it is greyed out if the input mode is changed to English). If you click on , you switch from simplified to traditional characters, as indicated by the button .

  4. If you are using Windows XP or Windows Vista, follow the instructions for enabling toggling between simplified and traditional Chinese for Windows XP or Windows Vista, and then return to this page.

  5. Be sure that the default mode is Chinese and the character mode is simplified. Type wo, and you get a prompt line interface popping up and offering a number of choices for wo.

    More choices are available by clicking on the button to the far right. In this case we want the first choice. So hit 1 to select it, and you have:

  6. Type shi, and the prompt line interface pops up again:

    Type 1 to select the first choice.

  7. Then type zhong, and you have:

    Type 2 to select the 2nd choice offered. Note that some of the choices are compounds anticipating the user's possible future input.

  8. Note the dotted underline below 中国, indicating that this is a provisional selection.

    Hit the return key to accept it, since that is what you want. Then type ren:

  9. Type 1 to select the first option. Hit the return key to accept the choice. Then type a period, and you are done.

  10. Anyone who is reasonably proficient in Chinese language input will take far fewer steps than the example given here. In fact, typing in woshizhongguoren and then a period, and hitting the return key will produce the same outcome. What we are demonstrating here is not the most efficient way to achieve the result, but rather some general principles:

    • With each syllable typed in in pinyin format, a prompt line interface pops up to offer choices that the user can accept by typing in the number correspoding to the desired option.

    • The editor will anticipate possible word combinations on the basis of what has been typed so far to save time for the user.

    • For a provisional choice indicated by a dotted underline, the user needs to hit the return key to save it.