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Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

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Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby furrykef » Fri 01.11.2008 3:47 am

Recently I bought a standard 109-key Japanese keyboard. I needed a new keyboard anyway and I found a slightly used one cheap on eBay ($24 after shipping!), so it made sense to buy it. I use it with the Microsoft IME. I've already gotten used to typing in kana mode for the most part, but a little issue confounds me a bit... how one should type full-width punctuation when using kana mode. Of course a few common symbols like 、 。 ・ 「 」 are easy to type, but some of them can't be typed in kana mode, such as ! ? ( ) < > + -. If I hit caps lock (toggles alphanum mode), I can type them, but only in half-width unless I also hit muhenkan (無変換). Let's say I want so say "Ohayou gozaimasu!", with a full-width exclamation point. There are a couple of ways I can do this...

おはようございます caps-lock ! muhenkan caps-lock. That's five strokes to get the ! if you include the shift key.
おはようございます caps-lock ! caps-lock, then change the ! to fullwidth during kana/kanji conversion. If I'm lucky, it'll automatically change, but it seems that it usually won't.

These solutions work okay, but I'm wondering why it's a bit of a pain to enter these full-width... you're generally supposed to, aren't you? Is there something I'm missing?

- Kef
Last edited by furrykef on Fri 01.11.2008 3:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby keatonatron » Fri 01.11.2008 5:42 am

I believe there is no way to do it other than what you mentioned.

However, the easily entered symbols you mentioned (、 。 ・ 「 」) are the only official punctuation in old-style (polite) Japanese. Even with questions, you end them with "か。" (when writing formally). The only people who use the kana input are generally from the older generation, and will only be writing in formal style, so they don't have a need to enter these "Western" symbols very often. Young people (who use ? and !) all type using the normal romaji-to-Japanese method.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby furrykef » Fri 01.11.2008 5:56 am

Young people (who use ? and !) all type using the normal romaji-to-Japanese method.


Why, though? Kana input seems more efficient, even with this sort of issue.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 01.11.2008 10:01 am

The more symbols you have to remember the positions of, the harder it is to type quickly. I have never seen anyone use the kana input method, even older people.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby richvh » Fri 01.11.2008 11:16 am

かんたんふ will henkan to ! (among other symbols.)
ぎもんふ will henkan to ? (among other symbols.)
()<> can be henkaned from 「」
You can type in the + on the numeric keypad and henkan them to the full width versions.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby Shirasagi » Fri 01.11.2008 11:44 am

furrykef wrote:
Young people (who use ? and !) all type using the normal romaji-to-Japanese method.


Why, though? Kana input seems more efficient, even with this sort of issue.


A Japanese person who practices and grows efficient with the kana input method has to learn a new one or otherwise hunt and peck when writing romaji. But a Japanese person who learns the romaji input method can seamlessly write in kanji, kana, and romaji, as is often required in Japanese word processing.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby furrykef » Fri 01.11.2008 3:16 pm

richvh wrote:
かんたんふ will henkan to ! (among other symbols.)
ぎもんふ will henkan to ? (among other symbols.)


Yeah, I figured that out, but that requires even more strokes. ;) Thanks, though.

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
The more symbols you have to remember the positions of, the harder it is to type quickly.


Shirasagi wrote:
A Japanese person who practices and grows efficient with the kana input method has to learn a new one or otherwise hunt and peck when writing romaji.


Well, I haven't used the kana input method much at all yet (I can't really write any sort of real Japanese yet), but I've already memorized the kana layout within a couple of days. It's still slower for me to type than romaji, but that just takes some practice. In any case, I don't think learning both is any huge burden. (And of course, for a gaijin like me, learning how to type in kana mode is about the smallest of difficulties I'll ever encounter in learning Japanese! ;))

- Kef
Last edited by furrykef on Fri 01.11.2008 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby Shirasagi » Sat 01.12.2008 1:15 am

furrykef wrote:
Shirasagi wrote:
A Japanese person who practices and grows efficient with the kana input method has to learn a new one or otherwise hunt and peck when writing romaji.


Well, I haven't used the kana input method much at all yet (I can't really write any sort of real Japanese yet), but I've already memorized the kana layout within a couple of days. It's still slower for me to type than romaji, but that just takes some practice. In any case, I don't think learning both is any huge burden.


I don't think it is a huge burden. I'm just pointing out that using the romaji-input is no burden at all.

Basically, it's like this:
Kana-input method -
Step 1. Learn kana input method for Japanese.
Step 2. Learn QWERTY home row input method for English and romaji.

Romaji-input method -
Step 1. Learn QWERTY home row input method.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby furrykef » Sat 01.12.2008 1:22 am

Right, but then you pay for the convenience of romaji mode with a slower typing rate.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby Shirasagi » Sat 01.12.2008 2:52 am

furrykef wrote:
Right, but then you pay for the convenience of romaji mode with a slower typing rate.


I doubt that the millisecond's difference it takes one to type the second element of a mora amounts to much in the long run, and what difference there is is probably made up whenever the kana-input typist has to jump through hoops to get ?、!、()、<>、+、− out in full-width.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby Wakannai » Sat 01.12.2008 3:12 am

A Japanese person who practices and grows efficient with the kana input method has to learn a new one or otherwise hunt and peck when writing romaji.


Completely untrue.

learning any style of typing is slower at first. Once you learn it, it's really no big deal.

I type in kana mode for Japanese and Dvorak in English, mainly because IME input is in qwerty and I can't touch type qwerty anymore. So I forced myself to spend the time to learn to input in kana mode. When I first started typing in Kana and Dvorak, I was very slow, but after a couple of weeks of forcing myself to not look at the keyboard, my typing speed was about the same as before, then a couple of weeks after that, I was typing faster and with fewer mistakes and less fatigue.

It's actually very easy for me to switch from kana to roumaji. What is very difficult for me is switching from Dvorak to Qwerty. Kana and roumaji are sufficiently different that the brain can easily separate them. Dvorak and Qwerty on the other hand are both roumaji input methods, and now that I touch type dvorak, I can never remember where the qwerty equivilant of the letters are. Fortunately, I don't need to remember since all of the keyboards are helpfully printed with the letters.

If I use a public access computer, where I can not quickly switch the keyboard mapping, then I will have to hunt and peck a bit. Otherwise, I touch type at a pretty decent rate.

The speed boost from Dvorak and kana is arguable, although proven with Dvorak. But the main benefit of both is preventing RSI's. Qwerty is very hard on the left hand which does 70% or more of the work. I used to feel like someone was stabbing an ice pick through the middle of my hand while I typed sometimes. That feeling went away when I switched to dvorak.
Last edited by Wakannai on Sat 01.12.2008 3:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby Harisenbon » Sat 01.12.2008 4:21 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
The more symbols you have to remember the positions of, the harder it is to type quickly. I have never seen anyone use the kana input method, even older people.


*nods* it's not very common anymore except for people who specialized in office-works and whatnot over a decade ago. I have two people at my office who currently use the kana method and it always throws me for a loop when I have to fix their computer.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby coco » Sat 01.12.2008 5:47 am

I have been formally nominated for one of the endangered species because I use the kana input method with a non-JIS keyboard.
Thank you for writing recommendations. :D

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There are some software that can provide any symbols or numbers on your keyboard. If you use it, you can customize your keyboard as you like. Unfortunately, I can't tell you how effective it is since I haven't used it before.

For your information, here is a web site comparing speeds among 3 input methods.
According this site, as you said, かな入力 is faster than ローマ字入力.
I think it depends on the typing skill/experience rather than the input method, though.

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edit: the website added. 
Last edited by coco on Sat 01.12.2008 7:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby Shirasagi » Sat 01.12.2008 11:08 am

Wakannai wrote:
A Japanese person who practices and grows efficient with the kana input method has to learn a new one or otherwise hunt and peck when writing romaji.


Completely untrue.


Well, you disagree with my entirely indisputable statement, and then validate it right afterwards.

Did I say one couldn't get fast at both? Did I even suggest that one was doomed to life of inconvenience? Not at all. I merely pointed out that in one case you learn one style of typing, and in the other you learn two (and that forgoing learning how to type on a Roman letter keyboard, be that QWERTY or Dvorak, would require that the person than hunt and peck).

On an unrelated note, I like QWERTY precisely because most of the common letters are on the left side. But then, I'm left-handed. I will never use the Dvorak keyboard!! Down with the oppressive dogma of Rightey! Left Power! Left Power! ;)
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RE: Japanese keyboards and full-width punctuation

Postby Chris Hart » Sat 01.12.2008 12:29 pm

Shirasagi wrote:
On an unrelated note, I like QWERTY precisely because most of the common letters are on the left side. But then, I'm left-handed. I will never use the Dvorak keyboard!! Down with the oppressive dogma of Rightey! Left Power! Left Power! ;)


Actually, there are currently 3 common Dvorak keyboard layouts. Of them, the most common is the Simplified keyboard, which is designed to balance typing between the two hands. There are also one handed versions of the keyboard, where just one hand is intended to rest over the center of the keyboard (centered on QWERTY's F-J keys) and operate all keys.
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