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DIGITAL ERA OF THE CHINESE LANGUAGE
Just twenty years ago the Chinese were concerned that their language would not be “usable” on computers. Today we can input Chinese characters in several ways, including [pinyin], [zhuyin], [cangjie], five strokes, etc.
Most advanced software allows access through typing just the first alphabets of compound words. For example the words “friends” [pengyou] could be input through typing “py”, from which a limited list of words such as [pengyou], etc would be selected.
Other features include auto-generated word suggestions for commonly used additions. For example once the word [dian] (electricity) has been typed in, a series of choices include Chinese words with [dian] in front, such as phone, telex, cable, electronics, etc are displayed. The concept, known as "linked thoughts" [lianxiang] is very powerful and pragmatic.
More advanced software enables input through equivalent English words in meaning. A list of Chinese characters matching the input is then displayed, from which the appropriate word is chosen.
With these and other features, Chinese character input can be done at a rate equal to or even faster than typing in English.
To type the word “address” in English would require 7 keystrokes. It can be done in Chinese with 2 or 3 keystrokes, (d, z) or (d, zh) plus one more to select. The word “telephone” requires 9 keystrokes in English; it can be done with 2 keystrokes, (d, and h) plus one more to select. Some software automatically moves the most commonly used words to the front of the list.
It is obvious that the Chinese language is in no way disadvantaged in the age of information technology, enabling Chinese characters to be digitised. At present Chinese is probably the second most important language on the Internet after English, merging seamlessly into the information age.
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