Chinese Input Cangjie Codes

Cangjie codes can be used to touch-type chinese symbols. A common Chinese character input method, particularly for foreigners, is to input the pinyin pronouncation of the desired character (with or without the tone) and then pick the character from a drop down list. Taiwanese tend to use zhuyin as an input method. Where pinyin uses the western alphabet zhuyin uses phonetic symbols to spell out the sound of a character.

The cangjie input method is different in that it is based on the actual shape of the character. A western keyboard can still be used. 24 letters (x is only used for special "difficult" characters and z is not used at all) are each mapped to particular characters element or shape and once you've got a basic feel for the mappings you then have a tool that allows you to touch type chinese characters.

Cangjie input codes use a maximum of five symbols. You could think of it as a sort of short hand. Where a "full" cangjie code can consist of much more than five elements, reducing each character to a maximum of five elements can result in faster typing, but comes at the cost of occasionally have one code that cna represent several characters.

One of the nice things about the cangjie system is that it comes built into the mac operating system. And both apple and android touch phones can use the cangjie input method. One advantage (or disadvantage) with most mobile cangjie keyboards is that they provide a list of "most likely" characters as you type.

My own reason for learning to touchtype was often times I didn't konw the pronounciation of the character that I was trying to type. Using cangjie isn't without it's problems but being able to type Chinese quickly without having to resort to drop down boxes (or at least only occasionally having to do so) is quite nice. I spend a lot of time copying text from written sources so learning the cangjie method makes my life a lot easier.

For a breakdown of the cangjie symbols and some mnemonics to help you remember them click any of the links below.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y

For help with characters that are difficult to figure out the code for (but which can help make understanding codes a bit easier click here.

And for a dictionary that is organized using cangjie codes click here.

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Cangjie Lookup

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