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Lesson 3: Viewing and Editing a Document

Dictionary Basics

Entering Chinese characters begins by typing some sort of key that identifies the characters you wish to write. Smart Characters supports a variety of key types. The most widely used key uses pronunciations to identify matching characters. The desired characters are then selected and pasted into the text.

The insertion point works with the hidden characters(5- 4) window to automatically (without highlighting) select text as keys for dictionary lookup. The automatically selected text is the portion of the current text object to the left of the solid insertion point in the hidden characters window. You can look up this text in the on-line dictionaries.

The dictionaries searched depends on the type of the current text object displayed in the hidden characters window. Pronunciation objects are searched for in the syllable, word, and user dictionaries. Notes objects are searched for in the translating dictionary(4- 7). Chinese characters are searched for in the reverse dictionary(4- 7). If you have not installed translating or reverse dictionaries, or if you specifically request it, Smart Characters will emulate them by searching the available on-line dictionaries, which takes some time. Japanese objects use corresponding Japanese dictionaries, and English objects are searched for in the English word dictionary (e.g., an optional thesaurus).

A Character Reference

In order to learn more about a Chinese character, use Translate | Lookup Word or Phrase to list each entry that uses that character. This function always searches your user dictionary(4- 7) first. The number in the hidden characters(5- 4) window is the character's document symbol set index(4- 10) and character number(D- - 2). You can view and edit the corresponding fonts using Hanzi/Kanji | Browse or Edit. If you have to wait, observe the Searching for dialog, which shows the dictionaries being searched and the progress made. You can stop searching if you get impatient, and work with the matches found to that point.

If you have installed a reverse dictionary(4- 7), the list of words and phrases is instantaneous. If not, Lookup Word and Phrase uses the Search Dictionaries(3- 32) command to emulate a reverse dictionary. The Translate | Search Dictionaries menu selection forces this emulation.

The Search Results in the List Window

After the search is completed, the list(4- 4) window appears with the results of the search. If you had hidden the list window, open it now (its title has changed to Copy to Clipboard from List, but its window number is always 5) and position it so that you can easily read it. If you cannot find the list window, use Window | Tile Vertically to begin the arrangement.

If you prefer black and white to color, select View | Display Mode | Black & White.

If you are using a VGA screen, you may want to reduce the tab size. Select Format | Tabs and set the default tabs to 0.1 inch or to taste.

Note: the entries with glosses ending in an asterisk (*) indicate that the adjective form of the word is formed by adding de5 . The text has been copied into the internal clipboard(4- 3) (not the Windows clipboard), ready for pasting. The internal clipboard is used for speed.

Pasting a selection

It is faster and more precise to get to the beginning and end of a line by pressing Home and End than by using the arrow keys or mouse.

Directly from the List Window

Typically, most selections from the list window paste directly into the document without going through the internal clipboard. When querying a character, however, it is almost certain that the insertion point is not properly positioned to paste the selection, hence the additional step of copying to the clipboard to allow you to move the insertion point and then paste. It's informative to repeat the choose-reference-select-insert process on different Chinese characters from the newly inserted entry, exploring how these characters form words and compounds. Do that now on your own, using the following alternatives to the menu:

Looking up English Glosses

Our curiosity piqued, let's see what the dictionaries have to say about the English word dog. Thinking for a second, English words appear in the dictionaries as glosses to the Chinese entries. A gloss is an equivalent word or phrase. Glosses are represented in Smart Characters by notes objects, so we will look for notes objects containing the word dog:

Input Mode Shortcut Keys

Practice jumping directly to an input mode(4- 2) by pressing the appropriate shortcut key. This method is faster only when you can remember the key. To start learning the shortcut keys: All dictionary glosses except proper names are in lower case, so enter the word in lower case.

Ctrl Keys Split Existing Text Objects

Use Ctrl+ key shortcuts carefully. Pressing a control key not only changes the input mode, it also splits an existing text object at the insertion into two objects, and changes the type of the text in the second object to the input mode type. This effect is used in Japanese to change hiragana to katakana, and to convert between notes, English, and wide ENGLISH. In the example above, we started at the end of a paragraph, so the insertion point was not in the middle of a text object. If you do inadvertently split an object, just press BackSpace or select Edit | UnDo to restore the object.

Adding a Gloss

In Chinese, it is generally ok to split existing words at syllable (Chinese character) boundaries, because each character is a separate text object. Turning to the example sentence, the gloss American is ambiguous. Correct it by adding person to the ren2 character.

Editing Glosses

When Pronunciations or Notes are displayed Above or Below the text, the main insertion point does not move, and new text will interfere with other pronunciations or glosses on the line. Redraw the line as necessary for a clear display. Practice editing the gloss in the example sentence by deleting the WWW from AmericanWWW. (3- 26) mode is perfect for editing, where you do not want to have to constantly fiddle with setting a different input mode when editing Chinese, English, pronunciations, and glosses.

Access with BackSpace

When notes placement (set by Format | Annotations) is Above or Below, you can access only the end of a notes object using BackSpace (which also deletes). Contemplate the controversy of whether to consider meiguoren one word or two.

Normal Text Entry via Pronunciation

The two methods of entering text demonstrated previously, character reference and translation, are useful for times when you have forgotten a word, but they are far too slow for normal typing. Additionally, they interrupt your train of thought from your primary goal: the well-formed expression of a thought in Chinese. The benefit of these tools is that they minimize this interruption.

The preferred mode of text entry is via the pronunciations of the words in a sentence, so that your typing is similar to typing English, where you concentrate on what and how you are trying to say something, rather than trying to remember a word or, worse, the mechanics of entering it into the computer.

Input Methods

Smart Characters offers two basic internal methods for entering Chinese characters, lookup On Request, and Incremental Match, and the ability to install and use native front end processors that you may be familiar with already. On request is the simplest method to use. Type a pronunciation, press a key, and pick the correct hanzi. Incremental match creates a list as you type, and has a variety of preference options to control the list format and location, and the keys used to select from the list, to begin new words, etc. Separate front end processors for native speakers sometimes go a step further and convert entire sentences typed in pinyin or bopomofo to hanzi automatically in the background as you type. After every sentence or so, you go back and correct the errors in hanzi selection made by the FEP. For experienced and fluent users, this method is quite fast, nearly half the speed of typing English. We will start by demonstrating the on request method:

Try the Word Dictionary First

When converting a word, try the word and phrase dictionary search first. This method begins by searching your user dictionary(4- 7). If you cannot find the entry, you must convert syllable by syllable, as in the first examples above. After doing so, you should add gloss annotations, then consider adding the word to your user dictionary and possibly to your dynamic glossary(4- 6). Use the word and phrase dictionary to enter the next sentence: You can insert glosses into the text at the same time as you enter Chinese characters.

Hand Entered Glosses Are Short

The example above shows Notes | Lines at 2 to illustrate that glosses can occupy several lines. However, the short glosses used in this example do not need more than 1 line. Most users prefer to conserve screen space by setting Notes | Lines to 1. On the other hand, the output of the translation programs such as the ScAnnotate Automatic Annotator(11- 2) includes sometimes lengthy glosses (e.g., United States Embassy, Beijing) into each word, requiring up to three lines for a clear display.

Use the Syllable Dictionaries Second

If you cannot find a word as a whole, look it up by its syllables. Go back and look up each syllable, starting from the beginning: Even though lun2 shows as four characters in the hidden characters window, it occupies only three characters on the screen because the tone marking has been combined with the vowel for the screen display.

Fishing for Tones

Although pressing RightShift+Space ignores the tone, you will save time by learning the correct tone. You can "fish" for the syllable by changing the tone and looking again. Here we will jump to the correct tone:

Make it a Word

Now that we have constructed a compound hanzi out of two syllables, we are inclined to move on to something else. However, consider adding word spacing to words and English annotations to words you create. Word spacing allows rapid word insertion point movement using Ctrl+Left and Ctrl+Right, and enables word selection by mouse double clicking, which is handy for drag and drop editing. Annotations help you or others less fluent read the text later. Further, consider adding the newly-annotated word to either your user dictionary(4- 7) or dynamic glossary(4- 6), or both, for rapid future lookup and participation in the query functions.

Although tao3lun2 is already in the word and phrase dictionaries, we will use it as an easy example.

Notes & Words

If you were working at the end of a line, notice that a small word space was added when you pressed the d key in discuss. Spacing is not added to the beginning of a line or column. Notes objects begin words, and the notes object type code (Ctrl+d), which precedes every notes object, acts as the Asian variable word spacing(4- 14). You can adjust the width of the separator using Format | Annotations | Horizontal Spacing | Pts Word. Turning annotations off suppresses word spacing.

Add the Word to the User Dictionary

Every business or hobby has its own technical terms. These terms number in the tens or hundreds of thousands, and it is not practical to publish a dictionary with all words included. Consequently, you will encounter many candidates for inclusion into your user dictionary(4- 7). Add tao3lun2: The user dictionary is automatically saved when you quit a project or change dictionaries.

Add the Word to the Dynamic Glossary

Now that tao3lun2 is documented in your user dictionary(4- 7), add it to your dynamic glossary(4- 6) so that you can access it by typing Talk. But first, play with the sample entries to get an idea of what a dynamic glossary does:

Case Sensitivity

Note that some entries are capitalized. This is optional for entries that do not match a valid pronunciation. However, any entry that does (e.g., dao, song) must contain a capital letter to distinguish from pinyin. As a memory aid, it doesn't hurt to capitalize the first letter of a dynamic glossary entry.

The Fastest Text Entry
Dynamic Glossaries

(4- 6) provide extremely rapid text entry compared to any other method. Don't limit your use to just common words. Include longer names and addresses that you use over and over again. The maximum glossary key length is 4 characters (i.e., Talks is too long), and you can have up to 1000 glossary items. Take a look at the new entries in your glossary file:

Dynamic Glossaries

The dynamic glossary(4- 6) that matches the input mode of the active dictionary language set(4- 7) (and your active user dictionary(4- 7)) is automatically loaded into permanent document window 3 whenever you change dictionary languages. This dynamic glossary is automatically saved when you quit a project.

Unlike the user dictionary, the dynamic glossaries for other alphabetic input modes (e.g., Pinyin >> Bpmf and the Japanese Romaji >> Hiragana) are always active, but are not loaded into a permanent document window. They can be edited using Keyboard | Setup | (destination mode) | Glossary, which loads the glossary file into a new document window for viewing or editing. Entries can be pasted from another glossary, or entered by hand in the format <key><entry>. Use File | Save to activate the new entries.

Deleting Chinese Characters

If you choose the wrong character by mistake, you can delete it without deleting the pronunciation:

Joining Objects

The pronunciation object tao3lun2 was split into a separate objects when we looked up a each syllable. Rejoin them so we can test our new entry: If you had double clicked with the mouse, or otherwise selected the notes gloss before the pronunciation, you would be seeing a mess as the pronunciations were joined to the English gloss! If that happened, press Ctrl+Z to UnDo, and try again.

Looking up Under an Alternate Pronunciation

Sometimes you will find that a Chinese character is not listed in either the word and phrase or the syllable dictionaries. Now what? Generally, Chinese characters are not listed under variations of their pronunciations, but are listed under a citation form (dictionary) pronunciation. Such is the case with zhei4 which is listed under zhe4. Look it up under the citation form, then correct the pronunciation: If you do not know to look for an alternate pronunciation, then you can locate the character by radical and stroke from using Hanzi | Browse (later in this chapter), or by using an optional radical and stroke(4- 8) dictionary.

Editing a Gloss

You may wish to not gloss each word, or to use a different gloss. Along with the unwanted gloss, the word and phrase dictionary always inserts a ^D word separator to begin a new word. Words in Smart Characters consist of a notes object followed by any combination of pronunciation and characters objects. Because the syllable dictionary does not automatically make words, it is not necessary to perform the above procedure if you use LeftShift+Space or RightShift+Space to look up the character.

Deleting a Gloss

If you are deleting an entire gloss, you can do it in one step. Go back and delete the to come gloss from :

Deleting and BackSpace

BackSpace and Delete work completely differently. BackSpace deletes a character from the object to the left of the insertion point. The character may be part of the in-line text, or it may be part of an annotation.

Delete deletes the in-line object to the right of the insertion point and other objects between the insertion point and the next character. An object is in-line if it occupies space on the line. Typically, the Delete key deletes several objects at a time: one in-line character plus associated pronunciations, and sometimes notes glosses. In addition, the LeftShift+Delete combination deletes the single byte current character, and the RightShift+Delete combination deletes a single hidden object beginning with the current character.

Notes glosses when displayed above or below the line can also occupy variable word spacing(4- 14) on the line. As long as variable word spacing is not zero, you can delete a gloss by pressing the Delete key. However, when annotations are off, variable word spacing is automatically set to zero, and glosses can be deleted by only by deleting the following character, or by selecting the gloss using the Shift+Alt+Right key, then pressing Delete. Although the insertion point does not move on the display, the hidden characters window displays the object being deleted.

Glosses in the first word on the line and pronunciation objects do not occupy space (word spacing is zero on the left margin, so that the margin lines up). Delete them using the Shift+Alt method above.

Use Word Separators

Life becomes easier when you insert word separators (notes objects) into the text you type. They can be used to visually separate writing into words for easier reading. Also, the Ctrl+Arrow keys jump entire words, so vocabulary lessons(D- - 8) and user dictionary(4- 7) entries are easier to extract when text contains word separators in the correct places. We have deleted the entire notes object associated with lai2, including the word separator. Re- insert it: Word spacing does not display if Format Annotations | Notes Placement is set to Off or InLine.

Looking up Glosses

Besides entering pronunciations to match words, you can search the dictionaries for Chinese characters and glosses. Practice by looking for matter. If you cannot find a word, try a synonym (e.g., thing, affair, etc.). Examine the other glosses in a word's entry to discern the underlying concept of the Chinese word, then pick the most appropriate word.

English to Chinese

To build your Chinese language skills, use English to look up words only after you have tried for a few seconds to remember the Chinese phrase that expresses the concept you are communicating.

The English search method accesses English glosses of the words in the Chinese word processing dictionaries. Consequently, many English words are not represented at all, and the entries under a particular word are not necessarily the best translation of the English word. Additionally, a word for word translation, although theoretically perfect, may not be an acceptable way to express a concept in Chinese, so be careful.

Copying Text

Why is this lesson taking so long? Class is in five minutes, so it's time to cheat. Copy the last words from the example line below and paste them in as if we had typed them ourselves: Cut and paste is another fast and safe way to enter text. The template method uses pre-defined and customized document templates, paragraphs, and sentences to accelerate routine correspondence text entry.

Adjusting Word Spacing

Stereotypically, native speakers, advanced students, and purists hate word spacing. They prefer to read and write characters in fixed grid arrays, which has the (minor) benefit of allowing for a precise character count simply by counting lines. Generally, word spacing is used only in textbooks, where the parsing of a sentence into words is one of the major tasks students must master. Smart Characters accommodates both camps by making word spacing adjustable, removing the need to insert fixed spaces into a document. Let's experiment: When you submit an essay or send or fax a letter, turn off word spacing to avoid the impression that you are ignorant of customary practice:

Typing with Annotations off

Type the next sentence with annotations off (if you wish, turn the annotations off in the list window, too). To get practice with horizontal scrolling, adjust the main document window size and horizontal scroll so that only the first two-thirds of the sentence is visible (up to lianxi). You can continue to type with the line individually scrolled. You can also scroll the entire window to match the current line:

Annotating Existing Text

You can annotate or re-annotate existing text. Replace the glosses on ta1, bu4, and hao3. Although you could simply edit these English glosses by hand if you know the correct gloss, the following method is required for unfamiliar words (e.g., text that you import from other Chinese word processors): In the example above, glosses were inserted without asking when typing with annotations off. This preference is set by the Adopt Notes Preference dialog:

Annotation Strategy and Tactics

The default adopt notes preference is to Ask when notes are displayed, and to take the First annotation when they are not. Native speakers who do not wish to fool with English should be trained to turn the Annotations Hidden preference off, otherwise they will be tortured by the resulting English vocabulary drill!

A frequency dictionary makes a more intelligent choice of glosses based upon frequency of usage. Alternatively, you can change the order of entries in the word and phrase dictionaries, then re-compile them to place your preferred glosses first. However, many native speakers will register a very large number of words in their dynamic glossaries, and avoid typing in pinyin at all. So, if you want to read what a fluent speaker in your office has written with the least amount of trouble, annotate their dictionaries and dynamic glossary to your taste (with their permission, of course...).

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Last Modified: March 23, 1996

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