Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Q9 Chinese Input

I love using Pinyin Input because it seems like magic. However, it may appear that I am contradicting myself since clearly Pinyin is phonetic input, based on the alphabet, and I have suggested that I am an advocate of glyph-based or visual input.

I only want to argue against an overemphasis on phonetic input for many scripts. People need both, or ideally, the ability to choose between phonetic and visual or glyph-based input.

One of the big advantages of glyph-based input is its ability to cross dialect or language boundaries. It is not dependent on pronunciation.

I have recently started learning to keyboard with Q9 input which was developed for the Nokia phone. I personally sat down last year with the head of the technology department at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, Kar Tin Lee, and had her explain to me the advantages of Q9 input.

Statistics show that up to 20 % of Hong Kong keyboard input is by handwriting input. However, I showed Q9 to a Canadian 12 year old, and asked him how it compared to handwriting input. "No comparison" he said, "this is much faster."

There is one tiny problem with Q9 - you actually have to know what the Chinese characters look like. I wasn't able to use it myself until I found this online Chinese dictionary which provides characters large enough for someone of my age to discern the individual strokes.

"Oh, no" replied my young friend, "I have the same problem. Sometimes on a test I cannot read the Chinese characters if the font is too small." (He was just saying that to make me feel better.)

Try Q9 here and read more about it here.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Colin said...

Did she happen to compare Q9 to Cang Jie? I'm curious as to how widely supported Q9 is compared to other similar input methods.

5:22 AM  
Blogger Suzanne E. McCarthy said...

THere seemed to be an agreement that Cangjie was not suitable to teach to young children and was difficult for everyone. Q9 can be downloaded from the Q9 website. I think it is just being tested down to gr.2 this year but is considered the standard now in the HK Ed.system. Suzanne

9:02 PM  

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