Monday, December 15, 2008

Typing pinyin on a Mac

Pinyin is the how Chinese characters are transcribed phonetically. The Chinese themselves use this method (you'll see it in materials aimed at young children still learning how to read characters) and it's equally valuable for foreigners learning Chinese as it uses the Roman alphabet. While it's easy enough to write out by hand, how to do it on a computer is not so obvious.

To type pinyin on the Mac, you first need to switch your keyboard from U.S. to U.S. Extended. To do this:

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the left side of the menu bar and select System Preferences.
  2. Select the International preference pane.
  3. Select the Input Menu tab.
  4. Scroll down in the list to U.S. Extended and check that off. You can uncheck U.S. if you'd like to have that out of your input menu.
Once you've got that enabled, each tone can be placed over a vowel by (1) holding down the option (alt) key and pressing the key for each tone and (2) without holding down the option key, pressing the vowel you want the tone to be over or, in the case of ü, pressing v. The following table lays it out for you:

Mark over the vowelKey to press while holding down option keyResult after then pressing vowels or v
First (¯)aā, ē, ī, ō, ū, ǖ
Second (´)eá, é, í, ó, ú, ǘ
Third (ˇ)vǎ, ě, ǐ, ǒ, ǔ, ǚ
Fourth (`)` (to the left of the 1 key)à, è, ì, ò, ù, ǜ
Umlaut with no tone (¨)uü

Another way to do it, on both Mac and Windows is OpenVanilla. I've yet to try this out personally but comments from its users all seem to be positive. I'd be happy to hear about your experiences with it.

Via: Typing Proper Pinyin on Mac, Times New Rohan

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