Monday, August 14, 2006

Keystroke coding system for Kanji

I was thinking about ways of entering Chinese characters, and wishing there were a more intuitive way to do it. So here's a scheme I came up with. Obviously a lot of people have been thinking about how to type kanji for a long time, so it's probably been thought of and (implemented | dismissed) before, but anyway, it seems to me like it could work:

In this system each character is represented by a sequence of the letters b, n, m, and k. Each letter represents a stroke or part of a stroke:

b = diagonal downwards to left
n = downwards
m = diagonal downwards to right
k = horizontal

So for every stroke you type a letter, and if the stroke changes directions, you type the new letter, making no distinction between strokes and parts of strokes. I wonder how many ambiguities there would be? Are there any kanji with disputed stroke orders, or is it totally standardized?

Here are the numbers 1 - 10:

一 k
二 kk
三 kkk
四 nknknbnk
五 knknk
六 nkbm
七 knk
八 bkm
九 bknk
十 kn

There would have to be some standard rules about how to represent the little hooks (like the last strokes of 四 and 九) and the ones that kind of curve from one heading to another (like the first stroke of 九).

It seems like a person adept at writing kanji might be able to kind of mentally translate their mechanical skill of writing into these keystrokes.

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