The Inconceivable Invention of Chinese language Typewriters & Pc Keyboards: Three Movies Inform the Techno-Cultural Story

The Inconceivable Invention of Chinese language Typewriters & Pc Keyboards: Three Movies Inform the Techno-Cultural Story

Even in case you don’t converse a phrase of Chinese language, you certainly know that the language makes use of not an alphabet, however ideographic characters: about 50,000 of them, all advised, 3,000 to five,000 of which should be memorized to be able to obtain cheap literacy. The potential for battle between the Chinese language

Even in case you don’t converse a phrase of Chinese language, you certainly know that the language makes use of not an alphabet, however ideographic characters: about 50,000 of them, all advised, 3,000 to five,000 of which should be memorized to be able to obtain cheap literacy. The potential for battle between the Chinese language writing system and twenty-first-century know-how hardly wants rationalization. How, in brief, do Chinese language folks sort? Youtuber Johnny Harris affords an evidence in the video above, starting with the maybe counterintuitive reply that Chinese language folks sort with roughly the identical keyboard everybody else does — once they’re utilizing a pc, at any charge.

Our smartphone age has given rise to plenty of completely different enter methods, all designed to carry out the identical fundamental job of adapting the traditional and elaborate written Chinese language language to digital modernity. In Harris’ telling, these applied sciences activate two main developments: the creation of pinyin, a model of the Latin alphabet that phonetically represents Chinese language characters, and the event of algorithms that predict which character the consumer needs to sort subsequent.

His rationalization is breezy and never with out its errors (the diagram about 13 minutes in, for instance, really reveals the Korean alphabet), and also you would possibly think about supplementing it with movies like expatriate Matthew Tye’s extra detailed “How Do Chinese People Type?” above.

However in case you actually need to perceive the evolution of Chinese language typing, you could start with the Chinese language typewriter — and so should learn Tom Mullaney. A Professor of East Asian Language and Cultures at Stanford College, Mullaney revealed The Chinese Typewriter: A History 5 years in the past, and has extra just lately been at work on a follow-up on the Chinese language pc. In the lecture above, he recounts the Chinese language typewriter’s once-impossible-seeming improvement in an hour and a half, connecting it to a bunch of cultural, linguistic, orthographic, and technological phenomena alongside the best way. It’s a narrative of ingenuity, but in addition of survival. Chinese language made it by the 20 th century with out being mangled or abolished to satisfy the constraints of Western engineering, however not each writing system was fairly so fortunate.

Associated content material:

Free Chinese Lessons

Behold the 1940s Typewriter That Could Type in English, Chinese & Japanese: Watch More Than a Thousand Different Characters in Action

An Animated History of Writing: From Ancient Egypt to Modern Writing Systems

When IBM Created a Typewriter to Record Dance Movements (1973)

Discover the Ingenious Typewriter That Prints Musical Notation: The Keaton Music Typewriter Patented in 1936

Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embrace the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the e book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The City in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

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