China

China Wants to Know: How R U?

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china text

Restrict and censor the Internet, then sit back and wait for the inevitable result:

Cell phone users in China sent 429 billion text messages last year… In China, mobile users sent an equivalent of 967 text messages per user, more than any other country.

Via CNET

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  1. Chna y u not OL? txt me bk.

  2. I was just wondering how they txt in chinese. I heard it has something to do with the number and direction of the strokes you use to write out chinese characters. Can anyone explain it?

  3. With several thousand characters, it’s really gotta suck to text written Chinese. Clicking the equivalent of the ABC button like 117 times for just syllable? Thoses fuckers must have freakishly huge thumb muscles.

  4. If I had to guess, I’d guess they use pinyin. Or WG (although that’s a real stretch). Or maybe they just text in Engrish.

  5. The answer? Ban cell phones!

  6. A few years ago, when I spent a month in Slovakia, I learned never to leave voice messages. Instead, everyone was leaving text messages for the very simple reason that in Europe people pay for calling their voice mail, while incoming text messages are free and you can get plenty of outgoing messages for a low flat rate. The billing structure may have changed since then, but people’s habits didn’t. Had voice calling been as cheap as in the US from the beginning, I believe there would’ve been much less text messaging taking place there.

  7. Humiliating admission: for about a year my address book had my friend Pete listed as “pdtd” and Abby as “aaaw” etc.

  8. Humiliating admission: for about a year my address book had my friend Pete listed as “pdtd” and Abby as “aaaw” etc.

    Interesting cipher there, de stijl.

    Maybe the Chinese use a T3 type of context-based text entry.

  9. There’s a standard encoding for Chinese characters that IM-ers use. Sometimes it involves puns, though. The word for ‘8’ is /ba/, and Chinese kids end their messaging sessions with ’88’.

  10. Dangerman,

    In my cipher (let’s call it text illiterate) your name would be damgdpmam.

  11. jmo | December 12, 2007, 2:32pm | #

    I was just wondering how they txt in chinese. I heard it has something to do with the number and direction of the strokes you use to write out chinese characters. Can anyone explain it?

    IIRC, the Chinese government formally adopted a Cyrilic Alphabet for general usage about 30 years back.

  12. IIRC, the Chinese government formally adopted a Cyrilic Alphabet for general usage about 30 years back.

    If that isn’t a perfect illustration of why government shouldn’t be adopting standards for anything.

    Cyrillic? If I had to pick an alphabet that wasn’t picking up market share and was destined for the historical dumpster, it would be Cyrillic.

  13. Cyrillic? If I had to pick an alphabet that wasn’t picking up market share and was destined for the historical dumpster, it would be Cyrillic.

    I agree with you, but this was during the last days of Mao, who still leaned more to the Soviet Union than the West.

    Of course, with so many Chinese learning English, the government’s choice may be moot.

  14. The Chinese never adopted a Cyrillic alphabet. Pinyin, which is the Latin alphabet with various diacritic marks to indicate tone, was formally adopted around 50 years ago. There were already several other competing Latin-based alphabets, but there wasn’t a Cyrillic one–either that or it wasn’t mentioned in the book that I read on this topic 🙂

  15. Rhywun —

    As I mentioned above, Pinyin and Wade-Giles (WG) are the two most likely. Both use the Roman alphabet, but Pinyin is almost universally favored (both in China and by learners of the language) because of the use of descriptive tone diacritics. A Cyrillic would also be news to me…especially since the Sino-Soviet split happened too early for that to be politically feasible…

    I’m still going for Engrish being the really big thing. 😉

  16. Maybe the kids are peppering their speech with some Engrish, but their writing? Probably not so much. Don’t forget that China is still pretty closed; nobody’s learning Engrish from Lost reruns or from American Top 40. As for text input on a cell phone, Pinyin (and other Latin alphabet based systems) are probably out of the question. None of the Chinese-speaking people I’ve known know a thing about Pinyin: it’s mainly for the benefit of foreigners. I’ve heard they use Pinyin in the very first reading lessons for children but they forget it after moving to characters in 1st or 2nd grade. The text input methods actual Chinese use (on computers, at least) are based more on character shape and stroke count. Perhaps they do something similar on cell phones but I don’t really know.

  17. Been dere, dun dat is wot.

  18. With several thousand characters, it’s really gotta suck to text written Chinese. Clicking the equivalent of the ABC button like 117 times for just syllable? Thoses fuckers must have freakishly huge thumb muscles.

    this is retarded…they have like one character per word…way less typing then english.

  19. joshua

    Yes. True.

    Except that a keyboard with 5,000 characters – just for basic communication – is going to be very cumbersome.

    With respect to the Cyrillic alphabet comments above, I have to retract. I simply can find no reference to support what I thought I remembered.

    I did find a reference in the Bejing People’s Daily to a decree that, effective June 1, 2001, the official alphabetical form was the PinYin transliteration.

  20. Here’s what my source says: In the 50’s Mao demanded from his “language reform committee” a system based on Chinese characters but by 1958 they settled on Pinyin. And there WAS one joker who promoted a system based on Cyrillic.

    The somewhat amusing thing about Pinyin is that it’s almost totally useless as actually seen in China: all the Pinyin you’ll see on street signs etc. is missing the tone marks, which is akin to dropping letters in English signs.

  21. There are a couple of ways to type Chinese on a cell phone. Here’s the way I, and most people, do it:

    1. Type word in Pinyin romanization.
    2. Pick from a menu of characters with that pronounciation.

    Many of the phones also pick up on context and stuff like that just like our phones to make typing faster.

    It’s not very hard. I think I can type faster in Chinese on a cell phone than I can in English.

  22. Most educated Chinese know pinyin. It’s what they use for teaching proper pronunciation in schools and its what they use to look up words in dictionaries.

    I know it’s different in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the rest of the sinosphere, but in mainland they use pinyin user interfaces to type Chinese on computers as well.

  23. That makes sense. The Mandarin-speakers I know are all from either Taiwan or Malaysia. They look at me funny when I use Pinyin but it doesn’t occur to them to question the fact that the way they spell their names in English is not at all how they pronounce their names 🙂

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