The thumb-shift keyboard(親指シフトoyayubi shifuto) is a keyboard design for inputting Japanese sentences on word processors and computers. It was invented by Fujitsu in the late 1970s and released in 1980 as a feature of the line of Japanese word processors the company sold, named OASYS, to make Japanese input easier, faster and more natural. It is popular among people who input large quantities of Japanese sentences, such as writers, playwrights, lawyers and so on, because of its ease of use and speed. The rights regarding the use of this design were transferred to Nihongo Nyuuryoku Consortium (Japanese Input Consortium), a technology sharing cooperative of interested companies, in 1989. It is referred to as an example of keyboard layout in Japanese Industrial Standards.
Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.
A word processor (WP) is a computer program or device that provides for input, editing, formatting and output of text, often with some additional features.
A computer is a machine that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of tasks. A "complete" computer including the hardware, the operating system, and peripheral equipment required and used for "full" operation can be referred to as a computer system. This term may as well be used for a group of computers that are connected and work together, in particular a computer network or computer cluster.
When word processors for the Japanese language developed in the late 1970s, one of the most difficult tasks was how to input Japanese sentences. Since the Japanese writing system uses three character-sets (hiragana, katakana and kanji), with a large number of individual characters (about 80 for hiragana and katakana, and thousands for kanji), it is not possible to accommodate all these on standard keyboards. Kanji posed the greatest challenge, and developers tried various methods, such as handwriting recognition, large tablet-type input devices, assigning multiple key-codes to each character and so on, but the method called kana-kanji transformation became the primary input method. It works by inputting transliteration, either in kana or by using Latin characters (rōmaji), and the dictionary in the computer changes the input sequences into kanji. The program that accomplishes this task is called an input method editor.
Hiragana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system, along with katakana, kanji, and in some cases rōmaji. It is a phonetic lettering system. The word hiragana literally means "ordinary" or "simple" kana.
Katakana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji and in some cases the Latin script. The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived from components or fragments of more complex kanji. Katakana and hiragana are both kana systems. With one or two minor exceptions, each syllable in the Japanese language is represented by one character or kana, in each system. Each kana represents either a vowel such as "a" ; a consonant followed by a vowel such as "ka" or "n", a nasal sonorant which, depending on the context, sounds either like English m, n or ng or like the nasal vowels of Portuguese.
Kanji are the adopted logographic Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system. They are used alongside the Japanese syllabic scripts hiragana and katakana. The Japanese term kanji for the Chinese characters literally means "Han characters". It is written with the same characters in Traditional Chinese to refer to the character writing system, hanzi (漢字).
There were basically two methods: one is to use Roman alphabet and the other hiragana. In the former (called romaji-kana system), QWERTY is commonly used. In the latter (called JIS kana system), hiragana characters are placed on the keys but since the number of hiragana is large, not only the common character keys but also the top number keys are used. In addition to that, some characters must be input using shift keys, just as the upper case characters in English.
Although the abovementioned methods have the advantage of compatibility with widely-available keyboards, there are drawbacks.
The conventional Japanese keyboard layout is considered by some to be unsuitable for Japanese input.[ citation needed ] In the JIS kana system, as has been mentioned earlier, some characters are placed far up in the numbers row, making the possibility of typing error higher. The input of numbers is also a problem because some characters share the key positions with numbers.
With romaji input methods, the number of keystrokes increases compared to kana input methods, as most kana require at least two keystrokes to input with romaji, compared to a single keystroke for direct kana input. On average, the number of characters required to transliterate Japanese sentences using romaji is roughly 1.7 times that of kana.
The engineers at Fujitsu, led by Yasunori Kanda, who were developing Japanese word processors, first tried to use simultaneous pressing of multiple character keys to differentiate hiragana characters but they found it difficult to use. They then came up with an idea of using the thumb in conjunction with other fingers. Unlike the shift action with the little finger on an English keyboard, in which the shift key is pressed and held while a character key is pressed, this method uses simultaneous pressing by the thumb and another finger. This has several advantages. First, it enables each key to be conjugated in three ways: without thumb action, with the same-hand thumb, and with the thumb of the opposite hand. This means that the keyboard can accommodate half as much more characters than in the usual method. Second, simultaneous pressing with the thumb is more natural than the shift action with the little finger because of anatomy: thumbs are much stronger than little fingers. Third, since this was a new concept, it was possible to choose a better layout of characters, taking into account such parameters as frequency of occurrence, sequencing of characters and phonological structure of the Japanese language.
Rollover is the ability of a computer keyboard to correctly handle several simultaneous keystrokes.
The thumb is the first digit (finger) of the hand. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position, the thumb is the outermost digit. The Medical Latin English noun for thumb is pollex, and the corresponding adjective for thumb is pollical.
Fujitsu's first Japanese word processor, named OASYS, with thumb-shift keyboard was launched in 1979 and became a big hit. As the line of products expanded, so did the popularity of thumb-shift keyboard. The share of OASYS in the Japanese word processor market reached 20 percent at one time (not all of OASYS were equipped with thumb-shift keyboard, though). But the adoption was slow to spread to other manufacturers' product lines. Although Fujitsu was open to adoption by other manufacturers, there was little incentive for them to adopt their rival's system in the (then) fiercely competitive environment of word processor market. It was only in 1989 when Nihongo Nyuuryoku Consortium (Japanese input consortium) was established with a participation of several companies, including Fujitsu, Sony, Apple Computer, Japan IBM and Panasonic, as the promotion body of thumb-shift. The rights regarding the use of thumb-shift were officially transferred from Fujitsu to the Consortium. It was also a time in which there was a rapid shift from dedicated word processors to personal computers. Although Fujitsu kept producing PCs with a thumb-shift keyboard, including portables, most users preferred ones with an ordinary keyboard and there were very few PC manufacturers which offered thumb-shift. Thus, the growth of PC market did not translate into that of thumb-shift and the share of thumb-shift declined quickly. As of October 2011, three models of thumb-shift keyboard for PC, as well as two portable PCs are on sale.
NICOLA is a variation of thumb-shift keyboard. In this keyboard layout, Henkan ("変換", conversion) is merged with right thumb-shift and Muhenkan ("無変換", non-conversion) merged with left one because USB HID does not allow additional key left thumb-shift and right thumb-shift .
In computing, the USB human interface device class is a part of the USB specification for computer peripherals: it specifies a device class for human interface devices such as keyboards, mice, game controllers and alphanumeric display devices.
With thumb-shift, each key can be used in three ways, which means that the most accessible 30 keys on the keyboard can represent 90 characters. This is sufficient for all the hiragana characters and some punctuation marks. The allocation of the characters was decided on the study of Japanese corpus.
The alternate characters are typed with the use of thumb-shift key on the same side of the keyboard relative to the key. Thumb action of the opposite hand (known as cross-shifting) is used to type the characters representing a voiced sound, written in hiragana by adding a diacritic mark (dakuten) on the corresponding voiceless sound characters.This has an advantage in memorization because it is not necessary to memorize two positions.
For example, take the home position of the right index finger (letter 'j' in QWERTY). Without thumb action, it is 'to' (と). It is 'o' (お) with the right thumb shift and 'do' (ど) with the left thumb shift.
The semi-voiced sounds, represented in kana by the handakuten diacritic mark, are typed either by using the conventional little finger-operated shift key, or by cross-shifting with keys which do not have voiced counterparts (these are marked in a smaller font in the center of keys in question, see photo at the top of the page).
The advantages of this system are mainly in three areas: ease of use, faster learning, and faster writing speed. The first is the result of several factors. Placing all hiragana in the 30 most used keys (this is not the case in JIS kana), rational allocation of characters on keys (not the case in JIS kana or in alphabet) and the use of simultaneous hit by the thumb. Perfect correspondence of key action and hiragana character (in JIS kana, voiced characters require two actions: inputting an unvoiced character followed by diacritic mark) is welcomed by users and some say that with thumb-shift keyboard one can input as quickly and easily as talking. The second is shown in an experiment conducted by beginning typists, in which thumb-shift users consistently outpace those of JIS kana and romaji-kana. The third is shown by the fact that many of the top typists in word processor speed contests use this system. The top speed, measured by the number of characters in completed sentences, i.e. after kana kanji transformation, exceeds 250 characters per minute.
The major drawback of the method is that it requires special hardware with two thumb-shift keys at the center bottom. This is most serious in portable computers, which have a fixed keyboard. Although some try to emulate thumb-shift using conventional keyboard, the results are mixed. A small user base of this system means that the availability of dedicated hardware is limited and that its cost is high.
Despite the drawbacks, thumb-shift is popular among people who write a large amount of sentences, including writers, playwrights and lawyers. They cite various explanations for their preference: speed, naturalness, less fatigue and so on. One author puts it this way: "Thumb-shift keyboard enables you to not only move your brain and fingers in sync with the proper rhythm of the Japanese language but also type fast. It is the keyboard that protects the beauty of the mother tongue."
In addition to the hardware, it is usually necessary to use some software to implement thumb-shift. Some examples in major operating systems are described below.
Input method editor Japanist 2003 by Fujitsu offers the function of thumb-shift together with kana-kanji transformation. Other programs, called thumb-shift emulators, can be used in conjunction with other input method editor of choice.
Thumb-shift emulators are available as either commercial or free software.
Input method editors scim-anthy and ibus-anthy, which are included in major distributions of linux, offer thumb-shift functionality.
Although thumb-shift has been developed for Japanese input, the potential exists to be used for other languages. There are a few reasons for that. First, the capacity to include more characters on keys makes it possible for languages with larger character set, including diacritic marks, to be input from more accessible positions. Second, using simultaneous hit with thumb is more natural than shift with little finger, regardless of language. There have been proposals for Chinese,Hangul, Vietnamese and so on.
Furigana is a Japanese reading aid, consisting of smaller kana or syllabic characters, printed next to a kanji or other character to indicate its pronunciation. It is one type of ruby text. Furigana is also known as yomigana (読み仮名) or rubi in Japanese. In modern Japanese, it is mostly used to gloss rare kanji, to clarify rare, nonstandard or ambiguous kanji readings, or in children's or learners' materials. Before the post-World War II script reforms, it was more widespread.
Kana are syllabic Japanese scripts, a part of the Japanese writing system contrasted with the logographic Chinese characters known in Japan as kanji (漢字). There are three kana scripts: modern cursive hiragana (ひらがな); modern angular katakana (カタカナ); and the old syllabic use of kanji known as man'yōgana (万葉仮名) that was ancestral to both. Hentaigana are historical variants of modern standard hiragana. In modern Japanese, hiragana and katakana have directly corresponding character sets.
In relation to the Japanese language and computers many adaptation issues arise, some unique to Japanese and others common to languages which have a very large number of characters. The number of characters needed in order to write English is very small, and thus it is possible to use only one byte (28=256 possible values) to encode one English character. However, the number of characters in Japanese is much more than 256 and thus cannot be encoded using a single byte - Japanese is thus encoded using two or more bytes, in a so-called "double byte" or "multi-byte" encoding. Problems that arise relate to transliteration and romanization, character encoding, and input of Japanese text.
Wāpuro rōmaji (ワープロローマ字), or kana spelling, is a style of romanization of Japanese originally devised for entering Japanese into word processors while using a Western QWERTY keyboard.
The modern Japanese writing system uses a combination of logographic kanji, which are adopted Chinese characters, and syllabic kana. Kana itself consists of a pair of syllabaries: hiragana, used primarily for native or naturalised Japanese words and grammatical elements, and katakana, used primarily for foreign words and names, loanwords, onomatopoeia, scientific names, and sometimes for emphasis. Almost all written Japanese sentences contain a mixture of kanji and kana. Because of this mixture of scripts, in addition to a large inventory of kanji characters, the Japanese writing system is often considered to be one of the most complicated in use anywhere in the world.
The sokuon (促音) is a Japanese symbol in the form of a small hiragana or katakana tsu. In less formal language it is called chiisai tsu (小さいつ) or chiisana tsu (小さなつ), meaning "small tsu". It serves multiple purposes in Japanese writing.
Japanese input methods are used to input Japanese characters on a computer.
The chōonpu, also known as chōonkigō (長音記号), onbiki (音引き), bōbiki (棒引き), or Katakana-Hiragana Prolonged Sound Mark by the Unicode Consortium, is a Japanese symbol that indicates a chōon, or a long vowel of two morae in length. Its form is a horizontal or vertical line in the center of the text with the width of one kanji or kana character. It is written horizontally in horizontal text and vertically in vertical text. The chōonpu is usually used to indicate a long vowel sound in katakana writing, rarely in hiragana writing, and never in romanized Japanese. The chōonpu is a distinct mark from the dash, and in most Japanese typefaces it can easily be distinguished. In horizontal writing it is similar in appearance to, but should not be confused with, the kanji character 一 ("one").
Half-width kana are katakana characters displayed at half their normal width, instead of the usual square (1:1) aspect ratio. For example, the usual (full-width) form of the katakana ka is カ while the half-width form is ｶ. Half-width hiragana is not usable within Unicode, although it's usable on Web or E-books via CSS's
font-feature-settings: "hwid" 1 with Adobe-Japan1-6 based OpenType fonts. Half-width kanji is not usable on modern computers even though it's used in some receipt printers, electric bulletin board or old computers.
ATOK is a Japanese input method editor (IME) produced by JustSystems, a Japanese software company.
Kotoeri (ことえり) was a Japanese language input method that comes standard with OS X and earlier versions of Classic Mac OS until OS X Yosemite. Kotoeri literally means "word selection".
Language input keys, which are usually found on Japanese and Korean keyboards, are keys designed to translate letters using an input method editor. On non-Japanese or Korean keyboard layouts using an IME, these functions can usually be reproduced via hotkeys, though not always directly corresponding to the behavior of these keys.
The Japanese script reform is the attempt to correlate standard spoken Japanese with the written word, which began during the Meiji period. This issue is known in Japan as the kokugo kokuji mondai. The reforms led to the development of the modern Japanese written language, and explain the arguments for official policies used to determine the usage and teaching of kanji rarely used in Japan.
The IBM Kanji System was announced in 1971 to support Japanese language processing on the IBM System/360 computers. It was later enhanced by the support of IBM System/34, IBM 5550 and DOS/V.
JIS X 0208 is a 2-byte character set specified as a Japanese Industrial Standard, containing 6879 graphic characters suitable for writing text, place names, personal names, and so forth in the Japanese language. The official title of the current standard is 7-bit and 8-bit double byte coded KANJI sets for information interchange. It was originally established as JIS C 6226 in 1978, and has been revised in 1983, 1990, and 1997. It is also called Code page 952 by IBM. The 1978 version is also called Code page 955 by IBM.
The romanization of Japanese is the use of Latin script to write the Japanese language. This method of writing is sometimes referred to in Japanese as rōmaji(ローマ字, literally, "Roman letters"; [ɾoːma ʑi] or [ɾoːmaꜜ ʑi]). There are several different romanization systems. The three main ones are Hepburn romanization, Kunrei-shiki romanization, and Nihon-shiki romanization. Variants of the Hepburn system are the most widely used.
A keyboard layout is any specific mechanical, visual, or functional arrangement of the keys, legends, or key-meaning associations (respectively) of a computer, typewriter, or other typographic keyboard. Mechanical layout is the placements and keys of a keyboard. Visual layout is the arrangement of the legends that appear on the keys of a keyboard. Functional layout is the arrangement of the key-meaning associations, determined in software, of all the keys of a keyboard.
Anthy is a package for an input method editor backend for Unix-like systems for the Japanese language. It can convert Hiragana to Kanji as per the language rules. As a preconversion stage, Latin characters (Romaji) can be used to input Hiragana. Anthy is commonly used with an input method framework such as ibus, fcitx or SCIM.