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Lesson 1: Introduction to Viewing and Typing

Retrieving the First Lesson

Although Windows emphasizes the ease of using the mouse to activate menus and dialog boxes, it is frequently faster and more convenient to keep your hands on the keyboard, using it to activate functions instead of reaching for the mouse. Try practicing navigation using the keyboard, then go back and do the same functions using the mouse, until you are skilled in both methods. Open the first lesson file, called Lesson1.ch0. You may notice Lesson1 on the quick pick list of recently closed files at the bottom of the File menu. For the tutorial, use File | Open anyway: We could just type (or paste) the full path name c:\sc\chi\lesson1.ch0 and press Enter, but let's instead use the navigation capability of the Open Document dialog:

Adjusting the Display and Zoom

Note the indicators of a maximized child window: the file name is appended to the main frame window title, the child system menu button moves to the left of the menu, and the child restore button moves to the right. For users with regular VGA screens (e.g., laptops), View Normal is the most convenient way to work. Those with super VGA screens may find it agreeable to work in other views and zooms. For the sake of the tutorial, leave the display in View Normal and the zoom at Margin Width or Page Width.

Set the Annotations Display

If you are a fluent speaker, please bear with us, and consider the benefit to less experienced users of the Smart Characters annotations which allow them to read your language, and remember, after these tutorials, you can turn these annotations off for good with the click of a button.

Scroll through the Document

Notice the display of pronunciations (tiny pinyin or bopomofo characters) above each Chinese character, and the embedded display of English glosses (short translations called notes). In Margin Width zoom, these notes continue past the right margin on a VGA screen, making the line length somewhat too long for the window, so practice scrolling horizontally. Of course, you could click the scroll bars on the window bottom and right, but instead, practice using the keyboard: Note that the line with the insertion point scrolls independently of the rest of the window. This allows you to work on the current line without scrolling the entire window.

Scroll the Current Line

Notice that the window shows only a part of each horizontal line. It is frequently useful to work on a document using a small window that shows only a portion of the line. Here's how to scroll the window as you work:

Annotations Off

If you are a fluent speaker, consider how to annotate your documents so that the least skilled in your office can cut, paste, and substitute text for everyday correspondence with native Chinese. Text displays in this style when importing from another word processor (fortunately, you can add annotations to existing text). Also, you would set the display like this intentionally to prepare for printing or faxing to a native speaker, or for use by a native speaker, who might be confused or annoyed by the annotations! Even though the annotations are not visible, they are still present. For example, the variable word spacing allows you to select a word by double clicking the mouse. Try it: (If you cannot double click, consider increasing the double click time using Program Manager | Main | Control Panel | Mouse | Double Click Speed.)

It is not necessary to turn everything off at once; each annotation has its own set of formatting controls. To experiment, first turn the annotations back on:

Notes Display Off

Notes interfere with our appreciation of Chinese, so turn them off:

Pronunciation Display Off

Turn off the pronunciation display: If you tried to read the text according to the above example, you now have some familiarity with it, and may even be able to read it, depending on your proficiency. The point is that word spacing alone is a speed up for advanced language students.

Word Spacing Off, Pronunciation On

Probing the Hidden Characters

Look at the text. Nervous? Relax. We don't need in-text pronunciations to decipher the pronunciation of a Chinese character, just probe the character with the insertion point, and let the hidden characters(5- 4) window show you its secrets. The status bar indicates the line number if you were working in Line mode, but you may be working in Page mode which displays pages and x, y positions. If so, set View | Display | Status Indicators to Line. Note that the indicators on the status bar change from Pages and x, y Inches to Lines and Columns. ... 12L 10c 0p 556b English - ^D - 4 ! Pinyin>>Pinyin

Every Smart Characters line starts out as English. Ctrl+D (^D) is the first (Position) character on the line, which is in column 10 (Column). The input mode is set to Pinyin >> Pinyin or (Pinyin >> Bpmf).

Adjusting Character Space

Because pronunciation widths exceed that of the corresponding Chinese characters, additional fixed or variable character space must be added to align the pronunciations with the characters.

Fixed vs. Variable Character Space

A fair amount of User's Group materials were created using Smart Characters for Students, which did not support variable character spacing. Instead, spacing for annotations used fixed character spacing. Try the version 2.9 fixed style: Observe that the notes size is only 4 points for a quite small notes display.

Pinyin to Bopomofo

Take a look at the document using bopomofo instead of pinyin pronunciations: Note the message The active Chinese alphabetic input mode conflicts with the Chinese pronunciation annotation format. This message means that even though you can now type in pinyin, and the keyboard will translate pinyin to pinyin (to take advantage of the keyboard macros and dynamic glossary(4- 6)), the display will convert the pinyin back to bopomofo. If you want to use bopomofo, you can use Keyboard | Setup | Bpmf | Exclusive to do so. Before doing this, it is best to start with a Chinese project that uses bopomofo, and leave any pinyin-based projects using pinyin. Otherwise, other users may wonder why a pinyin-based project uses bopomofo.

Other Pinyin Displays

You can display pinyin in a variety of styles:
  1. As Is displays pronunciations as they are in the file according to the active keyboard and installed fonts (if any). Bopomofo stays as bopomofo, pinyin as pinyin.
  2. Vowel marks the first pinyin vowel in the last portion of a syllable with a tone accent mark. The fifth tone is not marked.
  3. ^/_\. displays tone symbols after each pinyin syllable.
  4. 12345 displays tone numbers after each pinyin syllable.
  5. Off suppresses pinyin tone display.
  6. Bpmf converts pinyin to bopomofo.
Smart Characters converts pronunciations as they are displayed or printed.

Adding and Deleting Lines

Make a few blank lines for typing. The Enter key breaks a line into two lines. The Delete key deletes a blank line. Practice adding and deleting lines above the line (11) with the sample typing text:

Entering Chinese Characters

Begin Chinese text entry by writing the simple wo3 shi4 mei3 guo2 ren2 or I am an American. The numbers are tones, which specify a particular vocal pitch and modulation. If you cannot access pinyin this way, your workspace is not set up. Turn to Set up the Workspace and do so now, then repeat the previous step. Note that the list window title bar has become active and reads Paste into Document, and is displaying a list of Chinese characters with the desired sound. Locate and select the desired character (the first and only one): This example has one matching entry. If no entries match, the list window displays Target not Found, and the window activation does not change.

Adjust Character Spacing

Wo is short. If the pronunciation were longer (e.g., chang), it would overlap the character. If character spacing is set to a small amount, the pronunciations will not line up with the characters.

You Can Guess the Tone

You don't have to know the tone to enter words or syllables. Pretend you don't know the tone for shi4 meaning is or am: Because most syllables have not just an initial but also a middle and a final portion, the list of similar syllables is much shorter, and lookup using that method is fairly quick. However, some syllables (e.g., zi and others ending in `i') have only an initial portion, which makes partial match lists lengthy.

List Window Scrolling

Alt+Left and Right move the insertion point within a text object to display and edit pronunciations and glosses. The other Alt + direction keys scroll or move the selection in the list window.

Word Lookup

To save time and effort, use the syllable dictionary only when entries are not found in the word and phrase dictionary. By default, the word and phrase dictionary matches any tones, however, some tone must be typed after each syllable in a word to separate the syllables. In this example, type the tones as would be found in the dictionary (but not as spoken): A note on tones: the tone in the dictionaries is that of the underlying syllable, not the spoken tone. To lookup an exact match, type the pronunciation, then press F8 before selecting Translate | Lookup Word or Phrase.

Dynamic Glossaries Are Fastest

To save time and effort, do not use the dictionaries for frequently entered words and phrases. Instead, register the words, phrases, and sentences you use most frequently in your dynamic glossary(4- 6) (window 3) for instant retrieval by typing a short abbreviation. Try a few of the example entries:

Checking and Saving Your Work

Before saving your new document, redraw the window and check your work: If it looks ok, save it: If you have not registered your license, you will get an error message telling you that your file was not saved, with an error code. If so:

Quitting Smart Characters

Although it is not necessary to exit Smart Characters to work on another Windows (or DOS) program, try it now:
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Last Modified: March 23, 1996

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