Use your PC to Master Japanese and Chinese
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:
- Begin in a known state by using Window | Close All to close all the
open document windows, then minimize the permanent windows.
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:
- Select File | Open to invoke the Open Document dialog box.
- Press Alt+t (underlined in "Type") to move the focus to the List Files
of Type control, then press the Alt+Down arrow key to drop the list of file
types. Press Down repeatedly to scroll the list until you see Chinese.
- Press Shift+Tab to move backwards through the active controls on the
dialog box (Tab moves forwards). Stop when the current directory is highlighted
in the display under Directories. Press Up to highlight the Sc
directory, then press Enter to activate the OK button. Selecting a
directory then OK changes to that directory. Note that the current
directory, listed under the Directories label, reads c:\sc (if
Smart Characters is installed on the "c" drive). Do the same for the Chinese
examples directory chi.
- Observe the list of files in the list box on the left. To get to the list,
we first press Alt+n to get to the File Name control, then Tab to move
into the list. Once in the list, the Up and Down arrows scroll the list to
reveal Lesson1.ch0. Highlight the entry by pressing Down then press
Enter activate the OK button, which tells Windows that you want to open
the indicated file. Smart Characters complies and displays the file in a new
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.
- Press Ctrl+PageUp to scroll the window to the top of the file and position
the insertion point at the beginning (Ctrl+PageDn goes to the end).
- Press Alt+Minus to drop the child system menu, then x to make the window
fill the Smart Characters frame window. You could also click the maximize
button, or double click the title bar.
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.
- Click the window maximize button to maximize the window. Select View |
Page Layout to display top and bottom margins, headers, footers, and
- Select View | Zoom | Fit Page to display the entire page in tiny
type, then View | Zoom | Page Width to zoom the display to fit in the
window, showing the left and right margins, then finally View | Zoom |
Margin Width to zoom the display to the page margins.
- Select View | Normal (press Alt+v, then n) to display the page at
the current zoom setting without top and bottom margins, headers, footers, or
- Select View | Zoom | Margin Width to switch to normal view, and
zoom the margins to fit in the window horizontally. If the display is too
large, use View | Zoom | Page Width or another fixed zoom setting
instead (133% works well with the customary 12 point type).
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.
- Select View to drop the View menu. Verify that
Annotations is checked, meaning that Smart Characters will display and
print text annotated according to the annotation preferences. Press Esc twice
to cancel the menu display, and unhighlight the menu bar. Scroll the document
to display some Chinese text.
- Click the Annotations Expert/Novice button on the toolbar, a face
wearing either a flat scholar's mortarboard (annotations off for
experts) or a pointed dunce cap (annotations on). Notice the three types
variable word spacing(4-
pinyin or bopomofo pronunciations, and English glosses. Also
notice that the line spacing and character spacing changes to accommodate the
annotations. Leave the annotations on.
Scroll through the Document
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:
- Scroll through the document using Page Up and Page Down.
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.
- Set the zoom setting to 133%. If you are using a VGA screen, note that the
lines are not fully displayed. If you are using a Super VGA system, reduce the
document window size so that an entire line does not fully display (for
horizontal scrolling practice).
- Press Scroll Lock, then press the Right and Left arrow keys to scroll
horizontally. Press the Up and Down arrow keys to scroll vertically one
- Press End to move a window full to the right, and finally, Home to set the
left window edge to the page left edge. Leave the window in the Home position.
Press Scroll Lock again to turn it off.
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:
- Use the mouse or the arrow keys to move the insertion point to a full
line, then press the End key. Observe that the
(the line with the insertion point) scrolls to the left, and the insertion
point moves to the end of the line.
- Select View | Redraw Window, click the Redraw Window button
(the button with a box around a yellow circle), press F9, or press the Right
Mouse button to display the speed menu, and select Redraw Window. Note
that the window scrolls to match the current line.
- Press the Home key, and observe that the line scrolls to the right, and
that the insertion point moves to the beginning of the line, which is now at
the window edge. Select Redraw Window to align the rest of the window
(which now exactly matches the margins).
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!
- Click the scholar/student (or expert/novice) button turn annotations off
(or select View | Annotations). Note the changes: the word wrap changes
to reflect the removal of the variable word and character space, and the line
height changes as the pronunciations and glosses no longer occupy space.
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:
- Try to read the text without annotations. This is the view fluent users
will select to work in, and, one day, you will too.
(If you cannot double click, consider increasing the double
click time using Program Manager | Main | Control Panel | Mouse | Double
- Double click with the mouse on portions of the text, and observe the
highlighting. Observe the hidden characters window, and the choice of word
boundaries. You can insert a word separator wherever you want by pressing the
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:
- Use any method to turn annotations back on.
Notes Display Off
Notes interfere with our appreciation of Chinese, so turn them off:
- Select Format | Annotations and note the choices for Notes
Placement: Off, Inline, Right, Above, and Below. Set
it to Off, then select OK. Observe the display with just pinyin
(or bopomofo) and word spacing.
Pronunciation Display Off
Turn off the pronunciation display:
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
- Set Format | Annotations | Pronunciation to Off. While we're
in the Annotations Format dialog, set Horizontal Spacing | Pts
Word to a more obvious value of 5 points. Select OK.
Word Spacing Off, Pronunciation On
- Set Format | Annotations | Pts Word to 0 to turn off word
spacing, and set Pronunciation (pinyin or bopomofo) to Below. Try
to pronounce and read the text without the notes, and without reading the
pronunciations. Train yourself to ignore them and focus on the characters. If
you have difficulties focusing on the characters, you can reduce the
distracting effect of the pronunciations by reducing their size to be nearly
- Reset the Format | Annotations dialog so that Pts Word is 4,
and that Notes are set to Above.
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
window show you its secrets.
- Use any method to turn annotations Off again to make for a more
dramatic example. Observe Chinese as would be displayed by a native Chinese
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
- Press Up or Down to get to the line 12 or 13 (the line with
the Chinese text).
... 12L 10c
0p 556b English - ^D - 4 ! Pinyin>>Pinyin
- Use the Arrow Keys to move the insertion point to a Chinese character
until it becomes visible in the hidden characters window. Press Alt+Left (press
and hold an Alt key, press Left, then release the Alt key) to reveal the
character's pronunciation. Note that both pinyin (and bopomofo if you
are displaying bopomofo) are visible, and that both the hidden characters
window title bar and the object type indicator on the status bar at the bottom
of the main frame window show Pinyin (or Bpmf).
- Press Home to get to beginning of line 12. Notice that the
on the bottom of the main frame window displays in part:
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).
- Press Alt+Right to move the insertion point object by object, and note the
displays in the hidden characters window and on the status bar.
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.
- Use Format | Annotations to set variable character spacing
(Horizontal Spacing Pts Char) of 4 and 8 points, then toggle annotations
on and off. Note that the variable spacing depends upon the
annotations. The character spacing in unannotated text is set by the character
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
Observe that the notes size is only 4
points for a quite small notes display.
- Use Format | Annotations to set variable character spacing to 0
- Position the insertion point at the beginning of a Chinese sentence, then
select Format | Character to invoke the Character Format dialog.
This dialog is really three dialogs in one, controlled by the Font Group
selection. Use the Arrow keys or click the radio button to set Font
Group to Chinese Characters.
- Check or set Chinese character Spacing to 6 points of spacing after
each Chinese character, then toggle annotations on and off and
note that the characters appear far too widely spaced with pronunciations off.
Return the fixed space to 2 points.
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
the display will convert the pinyin back to bopomofo.
- Turn Annotations on, then select Format | Annotations and
set Roman Style to Bpmf. Bopomofo has only one style of tone
display: tone symbols at placed the end of each syllable. First tone is not
marked, and the fifth tone is marked with a dot.
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.
- Select Ignore to ignore this message. Because we just came from
Format Annotations, you would generally select the Keyboard Setup
dialog, and enable bopomofo input mode. Don't do that now.
Other Pinyin Displays
You can display pinyin in a variety of styles:
- Select Format | Annotations | Roman Style and note the
- 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.
- Vowel marks the first pinyin vowel in the last portion of a syllable
with a tone accent mark. The fifth tone is not marked.
- ^/_\. displays tone symbols after each pinyin syllable.
- 12345 displays tone numbers after each pinyin syllable.
- Off suppresses pinyin tone display.
- Bpmf converts pinyin to bopomofo.
Smart Characters converts pronunciations as they are
displayed or printed.
- With Annotations on, select each of these in turn and redraw the
window to examine the result. Leave the Roman Style set to
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:
- Move the insertion point to the line above the example Chinese text.
- Press Enter twice to add two lines and make some space.
- Press Up to move up one line.
- Press Delete to delete the blank line, then Up to move to the first new
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.
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.
- Press F12 or the Side + - to select Pinyin >> Pinyin
input mode. Note that the insertion point displays pin, and the input
mode indicator displays Pinyin >> Pinyin (the conversion 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):
- Select Window | 5 and adjust the
window so that you can see it alongside the document. If you have no extra
space on your screen, you can overlap the document window and the list window.
- Make sure that Caps Lock is off, and press w-o-3 to enter the
Chinese word for I and me. Smart Characters alphabetic text entry
is case sensitive. Upper case is generally reserved for dynamic glossary keys.
- Select Translate | Lookup Syllable to search the syllable
dictionary. Note and remember the keyboard shortcut for this dictionary
This example has one matching entry. If no entries match,
the list window displays Target not Found, and the window activation
does not change.
- Highlight the character, then press Enter to select it. Notice that the
character is now inserted into the text at the insertion point location, and
that the current object type is now Bchars (short for binary Characters)
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.
- Select Format | Annotations to set the Horizontal Spacing Pts
Char to 6 points for a reasonable trade off between compactness and
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.
- Type s-h-i-1 (any tone from 1-5 will do) and select Translate | Lookup
Similar Syll. and note the shortcut key RightShift+Space. Note the listing
of syllables with various tones, starting with sh (the `i' in "shi"
doesn't add to the pronunciation, and is there only to make roman alphabet
users feel better).
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
- Press Esc to reactivate the main document window, press BackSpace to
delete the 1st tone marking typed in the previous step, then press 4 to add the
correct tone. Press LeftShift+Space to get a much shorter syllable dictionary
listing. Do not make a selection yet.
- Press PageUp and PageDn, and use the Arrow keys to move the selection. Try
Ctrl+PageDn and Ctrl+PageUp to scroll to the beginning and end.
- Press Esc several times to alternate activation between the list and the
main document window. With the main window activated, use Alt+Up and Alt+Down,
Alt+PageUp, etc., to scroll the selection in the list window, and Alt+Enter to
paste the correct selection (the first).
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):
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.
- Enter mei3guo2ren2 then select Translate | Lookup Word or Phrase
(note the shortcut key F2) to use the word and phrase dictionary to get the
three Chinese characters meaning American (person). For words, the word
and phrase dictionary is far faster than using the syllable dictionary.
- Finish up: press the Period key.
- Press Side Plus or F12 until the input mode indicator displays
notes. Position the insertion point before each of the first two
characters, and type the two missing glosses I and am. Note the
added word spacing that comes from inserting a notes object, which also acts
like a word separator.
- Press F10, click the toolbar button, or select Redraw Line from the
speed menu to redraw the line and clean up the pinyin pronunciations.
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
(window 3) for instant retrieval by typing a short abbreviation. Try a
few of the example entries:
- Press the Right Mouse button and select Pinyin input mode, then
type "Hupy" to yield
(Hanyu Pinyin). The keys are case sensitive to avoid conflicts with valid
pinyin syllables. Try Bpmf (bopomofo), SM (small), Lar (large), and Acs (
Apropos Customer Service(F-
Note that dynamic glossary entries are not limited to Chinese, but the input
mode must be pinyin to use the pinyin dynamic glossary. Other input modes can
have their own glossaries, or they can all use one common glossary.
- Type sc to yield
This entry is not in your dynamic glossary, but is rather part of the pinyin
keyboard, which can be global to your group or company (e.g., on a network, for
commonly-used company wide terminology).
Checking and Saving Your Work
Before saving your new document, redraw the window and check your work:
If it looks ok,
- Press the Right Mouse button to display the word processing speed menu.
Select Redraw Window to redraw the window. Press Alt+v-W to do it again,
and note the shortcut key. Press F9 to do it yet again.
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:
- Select File | Save to save the file under the same name as the
original. Smart Characters automatically backs up small files in the same
directory and file name with a .bak extension. If the file is large,
Smart Characters asks whether you want to back it up or not.
- Select OK. Continue with the lesson in demonstration mode.
- Optionally, register your license. See Registering Your License.
Quitting Smart Characters
Although it is not necessary to exit Smart Characters to work on another
Windows (or DOS) program, try it now:
- Select File | Exit to leave Smart Characters. Don't save any other
files. The next time you return, the windows that are open now will be
re-opened, as you left them.
Apropos Customer Service home
Last Modified: March 23, 1996
Copyright © 1996 Apropos, Inc.