What Does a Chinese Keyboard Look Like?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Daniel Engber explains “How they type in the PRC” in What Does a Chinese Keyboard Look Like?:

How do you type Chinese characters on a keyboard?

You use a piece of software called an input method editor, which allows conventional-looking keyboards to produce the thousands of characters used in written Chinese. There’s no standard system, though, so two Chinese keyboards may not look exactly the same and they may not function in the same way.

In the Peoples’ Republic of China, most computer users type out their Chinese in transliteration, using the standard Roman alphabet keys on a QWERTY keyboard. To generate a character, you type out its sound according to the same spelling system — called Pinyin — that represents the name of China’s capital with the word ‘Beijing.’ The computer automatically converts the Pinyin spelling to the correct Chinese characters on the screen.

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