SignWriting List
July 28, 2015

Thank you, Dali, for your excellent answer about writing Chinese!


On Jul 29, 2015, at 8:25 AM, Dali balti <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hello dear André!
Before starting to use computers to type Chinese, it was thought that it would not work because Chinese is not letters but symbols!
But they found out two basic ways to type Chinese on computer.
The first one is by using Chinese pronunciation transcription which is called "pinyin". 
Chinese is based on syllables, there are no single letters, which means that you cannot make up new pronunciations out of the existing ones, I will give you some examples; with the phoneme "b" you can have the following combinations: ba/bi/bu/ban/bang/beng/etc... But with the phoneme "j" you CANNOT make any of the previous pronunciations, except "ji". In all there are about 400 syllables in Chinese and it is lesser than English which is a free language in which you can have any combination of letters (some linguistics say that in English there are about more than 65000 syllables)... You can imagine that now!
Back to the writing system, and using "pinyin", in Chinese we type the pronunciation transcription and not characters themselves. The pronunciation system is a worldwide system for Chinese learning! For example, to type "bicycle" in Chinese, I need to type the pronunciation pinyin into the computer and it will show up the Chinese characters---- zì xíng chē = bicycle.
That's easy, isn't it?
The problem is bigger when the word to type is bisyllabic. Because the computer will show you a list of many words having the same pronunciation but with different writing forms. For example: the pronunciation "yan yuan" would have the following different characters!
演员 / 眼缘/ 盐源/ 颜渊
So in this case you will have to click on the word you need each time you're typing! It's not boring because the computer can detect the logical words combinations in a single sentence, sometimes it might miss the point!
Some other Chinese people use strike by stroke system, which looks like SW! Every Chinese character has a logical way to be written in order stroke by stroke. On computers you can find this system but it is boring, you type on the basic strokes and the computer detects the order and try to guess the character, it shows you a list of possibilities and you click on the character you want!
Chinese is now written from left to write!


On Jul 28, 2015, at 5:53 AM, André Thibeault <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Dali, Yu and everyone,

I noticed that some people posted their message on the SW list.  Some of them talk about the Chinese writing characteristic (vertical writing vs horizontal writing) and a Chinese computer.  Why do I ask Dali and Yu? Because both of you are skilled in writing Chinese and in using a computer.  Then, I would like you to share your experiences with us regarding writing Chinese using your computer.

Yu: You are an international student. I cannotremember the name of the College you attend. You live in Toronto. You mention that you lived in China before.  I have a question: Can you write Chinese faster by using a computer?  Does writing with a computer in English vs writing with a computer in Chinese take about the same time?

Dali:  I cannot believe that you can use up to 15 languages!  I understand that you are a Chinese teacher. As you can write both the SW Tunisian Sign Language and the SW Chinese Sign Language, I have two questions: 1) What are the similarities and the differences between writing a SignWriting and usual Chinese as concerns using a computer? Which one is slower or faster when using the keyword or the mouse? When thewriting is done horizontally or vertically? What action is the easiest, themost difficult, and so forth?

It is common for people to use a translate feature and translate from glossed texts to sign texts in order to save time. 2) Is it common for a Chinese user to write Chinese using a translation feature (I do not know the exact word (translation) for the Chinese computer system) like SignPuddle (translate feature) since they need to save time?

Yu and Dali: Is it true that modern Chinese iswritten horizontally when using a computer?

Best regards,


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