Note, 24 Feb 1999: Click here for more Japanese layout info.
I recently [8 November 1996] exchanged E-mail with Kenichi Asai in Japan, and he gave me some insight into the problem of keyboard ergonomics in Japanese. I tried to find the "T-code" he mentions on the Web, but found the term is used for something else in English! (Some sort of mathematical "Evolution" technique.)
I've gotten some questions about "Dvorak" for other languages, so I thought I'd include Kenichi's brief summary about Japanese "T-Code" here.
[MWB:] >By the way, you might be able to answer a question for me. A Dr. [Hisao] >Yamada at the U of Tokyo designed an ergonomic Japanese keyboard layout >several years ago. It is supposed to have been "successful," but I don't >know what that means. Do you know offhand if that keyboard caught on? [Kenichi:] Prof. Hisao Yamada is now in Chukyo University in Nagoya (located between Tokyo and Osaka). He is reachable by hy_AT_sccs.chukyo-u.ac.jp. He invented a so-called T-Code for a Japanese input method. As you may know, Japanese uses Chinese characters, which count more than a thousand. Usually, we input them by their sound. We input their pronounciation in alphabet, and computers will show as candidates several Chinese characters for the pronounciation. (A lot of Chinise characters share their sound.) Then, we choose a correct character among them. The problem here is that we have to CHOOSE a correct character. To choose it, we have to think. This slows down the input speed of Japanese text. We want the input method to be fully mechanical (as in English). When inputting text, we think of only its contents, not the input method. With this observation, Prof. Yamada invented T-Code. When using T-Code, one Chinise character is input by two strokes. On normal English keyboards, there are about twenty keys to type for each hand. By distinguishing the following four cases: (1) the left hand types both the first stroke and the second stroke. (2) the left hand types the first stroke and the right hand types the second stroke. (3) the right hand types the first stroke and the left hand types the second stroke. (4) the right hand types both the first stroke and the second stroke. there are 1600 variations. (4*20*20) T-Code assigns a Chinise character to each of them. This means that we have to remember for each Chinese character which stroke is assigned among these 1600 combinations. At first sight, this seems ridiculous. How can we remember that amount of stuff! But the actual experiment says that we can remember them after about a month of training, and then, we can type Japanese text without interupting our thinking, without seeing display, and completely mechanically! In my former lab, a guy actually uses T-Code. He can now type most Chinise characters that occur often. (By the way, he uses Dvorak when he inputs alphabets.) He can probably type Japanese text without seeing the display at all. It seems that it's not so unrealistic to use T-Code. I? No, I don't use T-Code, although I think it is an interesting choice. Is it popular? No. Most people don't want to remember 1600 combinations. Hope it helps you some. Sincerely, ----- Kenichi Asai
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