Basic Principle

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The Cang Jie Method codification of characters is based on their graphic nature: so, the retrieval of characters is done according to their shapes and structure, not according to their phonetic representation.

Therefore, the Cang Jie Method contains two ingredients :

1. A set of predefined shapes, called the "signs", that can reproduce all the patterns forming Chinese characters. The total CJ sign-shapes is 111. They are divided in 24 groups represented by one "lead" sign (we called the 24 Main-signs) which themselves correspond to one code-letter (from the roman alphabet) and can therefore be inputted from the usual western computer keyboard. Each of the 24 groups contains a few additional shape-signs, which are called "secondary signs" as their shape derives somehow from the shape of the Main sign of the group.

2. A set of rules of selection of signs which determine the shapes-signs that have to be chosen to make the code of the character (with a maximum of 5 code-letters) and those which have to be ignored for the code formation.

 The use these two ingredients is simple in principle:

1- Match the signs-shapes to the shapes forming the characters.

2- Follow the "rules of selection" to choose the signs whose corresponding letters form the code of the character and will have to be keyed in to get the character.

3- Type in the code-letters corresponding to the chosen signs and ... the character will appear on the screen!

ILLUSTRATION 1:   suppose you need to type the character

     (wei4, stomach)


 In CangJie, the shape "" () on the top of this character is represented by the letter W, and the shape ""  "" is represented by the letter B. In this character, the two CJ shapes it is made of have to be inputted. In more complex characters, as will be seen later, many shapes are "skipped".




To know more about the essential principles of the CJ Method, and to compare them with the phonetic input methods please refer to the INTRODUCTION of the CJ book (download a zipped pdf file: you will need Acrobat Reader). You can print it and read it at ease. (It also explains the advantages of CJ and how you can type simplified characters used in Mainland China and Singapore following the same principles and rules as for for typing traditional characters used in Taiwan and Hong Kong).


Step 1: Summary: matching character shapes to CangJie signs shapes (step 2 & 4) and keying the corresponding letters of the keyboard after having chosen the signs to input (step 3 & step 5) ... is all the mechanics of the CangJie Method.

Action: for the time being, just relax and read the Introduction of the CangJie Method book.

We will then examine the signs shapes defined by the CJ Method. Let's first see the "lead" signs.

Next Step 2: the Main-Signs



Up ] [ Basic Principle ] Main Signs ] Order of Signs ] Secondary Signs ] Sign Delimitations ] Selecting Rules ] Complex characters ] The 4 Exceptions ] Summary ]