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Learning Cangjie

Canvassing interest in a comprehensive Cangjie (typing system) resource

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Tomsima

As you are perhaps already aware, I am one of the users here who uses cangjie, and I think this is a fantastic idea. It is indeed a massive trawl around the internet to gather together all the resources you need to get to a workable typing level in cangjie. I think there is definitely potential for some online platform for typing practice for English speakers, like skritter, but for typing. Great idea!

 

I would suggest one area that you might want to work on if you want to draw in a bigger audience is highlighting the traditional/simplified capabilities of this typing method: one of the greatest benefits of cangjie for many will be the fact that it can be used to type both simplified and traditional.

 

I cannot type in 五筆 (or 笔, 竹竹手山, if you prefer, just to demonstrate the point in question), but I have heard that while it can be used to type traditional, it is heavily slanted towards simplified and doesnt work too well otherwise (again, correct me if im wrong Imron or anyone else). Yes, you could just type in one then auto-convert into the other, but the whole point of learning to type is so you can experience typing Chinese characters like you might English, the freedom to quickly type whatever character you want without having to stop and start clicking at options. As far as I am aware, cangjie is the only system that is able to do this well and with ease (it comes bundled as an IME on most computers, unlike zhengma or other more obscure IMEs).

 

Look forward to seeing more!

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NinjaTurtle

Hi LC,

 

I see that there are about 214 radicals for Chinese characters. Do you have a quick way to type in each radical?

 

 

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Learning Cangjie

@NinjaTurtle yes there is; it's just the same process as typing in a normal character. For example 冂 is typed as "ls" where "l" gives you the left-hand vertical line and "s" gives you the rest of the character.

Note that Cangjie does not follow the usual system of radical decomposition of a Chinese character, but rather has its own system of graphically breaking down a character. There are other graphical input systems that do (e.g. Zhengma comes closer, Wubi is a... weird middle ground), but they generally are not as widely supported as Cangjie.

Also just to be clear Cangjie is not an invention of mine! I'm just trying to build out software to teach it.

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Learning Cangjie

@Tomsima thanks for the words of encouragement! Yeah simultaneously being able to type simplified and traditional characters indeed sounds like something I could highlight; thanks for the suggestion!

I have a couple questions for you if you have the time to reply since you've already made the Cangjie journey. What prompted you to learn Cangjie? Looking back, do you think there would have been any resources that would've helped accelerate your learning?

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Tomsima

I learnt Cangjie for character retention and ease of typing. Its not perfect for character retention (nothing beats handwriting) but its far, far better than pinyin/bopomofo. If you're looking for a shape-based input method, nothing beats cangjie for ease of use and enjoyment of typing; it is in my opinion the most fun and rewarding input method available. Handwriting input on touchscreens is incredibly tiring on the hands, and you end up taking shortcuts anyway. 五笔画 is useful for finding the odd one-off character, but unusable for long periods of typing.  You're only really left with 五笔 (not to be confused with 五笔画) and 倉頡. The latter seemed a lot quicker to learn when I first started, and the fact that it had been designed to write any character, regardless of what system it came from was a big plus point: it finally gives you the freedom to type just like you would in English, and quite similar to the feeling of using a pen to write: you can write any specific character you want, as long as you remember how to.

 

Of course that last part is the caveat: remembering how to write requires a good foundation of decomposition rules, extensive experience in usage (leading to intuitive guesses for characters you've never typed before...eg knowing that 月 is 'strong' as a finishing code), and occasionally some straight rote learning (eg 屬 is 尸卜卜戈 but 率 is 卜戈人十...). Ultimately I feel like learning cangjie 'stroke order' (decomposition rules) is the same as learning how to write properly with a pen, except feedback is instantaneous (the code isn't accepted) rather than waiting for a teacher to tell you 'you wrote this character wrong'.

 

Most who have gone the cangjie route have used this guys website in the beginning: https://www.ifreesite.com/typing/cangjie-1.htm

But its limited in scope unless you pay. I didn't and just built an anki deck of sentences to type out every day instead. But I still regularly check http://input.foruto.com/cjdict/45686.php for characters I'm not sure about (although for any interested in using this resource, be aware that it occasionally decomposes differently to the input method commonly found on computers these days). If you're asking for resources that would accelerate learning, building a website like the one above for English speakers with western bank accounts (like skritter has done for handwriting) would be a massive step in the right direction. There are old school English guides to decomposition rules out there on the web, but they're all pretty dry and in dire need of a modern update.

 

All in all, cangjie is a great system for typing which has sadly fallen out of common use for no fault of its own. Originally used for traditional characters, then pinyin came in on smartphones and it lost to that market too, its actually very well suited for typing on a full size keyboard, far more so than most if not all other input methods. The decomposition method is, imo, a work of genius.

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艾墨本

Interested.

 

Haven't heard of this prior to your post. Didn't know it is something that I wanted. I want it, now.

 

The fact that your current website is also stunningly beautiful makes me trust that you'll make, at the very least, a learning site that is at least fun to look at.

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markhavemann
3 hours ago, 艾墨本 said:

Haven't heard of this prior to your post. Didn't know it is something that I wanted. I want it, now.

+1

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Tomsima

Just thought of another great benefit of using cangjie as a learning tool:

 

You don't get tricked into thinking you are able to type the right character through 'intelligent suggestion'. The system will type out almost any character you are thinking of, regardless of whether or not you even recognise the character you have mistyped!

 

Heres an example of a word I was just reviewing for typing practice. You can see I had a clear idea of how I thought the character should be written, then the fact that no autocorrect or error message kicked in - it just outputted the character I wanted to write, which happened to be wrong:

 

Capture.PNG.7cc729d7e38c8b2fd53abb85b5df078f.PNG

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Learning Cangjie

@Tomsima Ha, in a twist of irony, those are in fact variant forms of the same word (as attested to in the Kangxi Dictionary). But your general point definitely stands (and also perhaps gives you a better appreciation for how variant characters might've come about).

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Learning Cangjie

@艾墨本 While I appreciate your kind words, I do want to point out as I mention in the footer of the website that my design is not entirely original and is very much based on a design that another author generously made available under a CC-BY license.

Nonetheless rest assured that I understand while content remains king, presentation, especially for learning materials, also matters a lot. The design of the site will definitely not be an afterthought.

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Tomsima

ha well what do you know, maybe id seen it written like that somewhere and subconsciously absorbed it…or more likely just a lazy guess. Like whenever an insect name comes im just throwing out 虫 on the side of every character no matter what and hope for the best

 

For anyone that's interested: http://www.guoxuedashi.com/kangxi/pic.php?f=kx&p=833

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