Writing Japanese on the Windows Platform
This is not intended to be a comprehensive manual to writing Japanese on the Windows platform, but rather a quick and dirty guide to get someone new to Japanese computing going with Microsoft's Input Method Editor, which converts Japanese text entered as romaji into kana and kanji. For more detailed information on this and other Input Method Editors, see Russ Rolfe's "What is an IME (Input Method Editor) and how do I use it?". Wikipedia has a comprehensive survey of "Japanese input methods" on computers.
Japanese language support and input method editor(s) need to be installed before one can write Japanese in a Windows application. If necessary, please first install Japanese language support and input method editor(s) (IME) for Windows 95/98/Me/NT 4.0, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP, or Windows Vista.
Screenshots below are taken from a computer running Windows 2000 Professional with the Japanese input editor MS-IME 2000 installed. The icons, language buttons, language bars and IME menus on the other Windows platforms may look a little different from those on Windows 2000 Professional. But the steps for inputting Japanese text are quite similar for the various Windows platforms. Microsoft's Pinyin Input Method Editor functions much the same in its different versions.
- Once Japanese language support and IME have been installed on a computer running Windows 2000 Professional, there should be a language button on the right hand side of the taskbar at the bottom of the Windows desktop. If you left click on it, then the language input options you have installed should appear. Scroll to the language option you want (in this case Japanese), and left click to select it as an input option.
- As an example, we will write the sentence "I am Chinese" in Japanese (私わ中国人です） in Microsoft Word. First open Word, then choose the Japanese MS-IME 2000 as in section (1). Note that on the right hand side of the taskbar, instead of , you have .
- You also get on the taskbar a menu for the options in Japanese MS-IME 2000. Note that even though the default input mode is supposed to be Hiragana, what shows on the menu is Direct Input as indicated by on the menu. Click on , and the submenu for different options for text input displays. Click on Hiragana to choose it as the input mode.
- Now the options menu for Japanese MS-IME 2000 indicates that Hiragana is the input mode, as represented by .
- Type in watakushi, and you get:
- Note that there is a dotted underline below わたくし, indicating that it is provisional. If you hit the space bar, you get the kanji:
Note that there is a solid line under 私.
Since that is what you want, hit the return key to accept.
- IME is not smart enough to know that wa should be written by the kana for ha. So type ha. Again, note the dotted underline. Hit the return key to accept the hiragana for ha.
- Then type chugoku.
- If you hit the space bar, ちゅごく is converted into its kanji form.
- You can hit return to accept it. But suppose those kanji are not the ones you want, and you want to see what other alternative forms may be possible. Hit the space bar again, and you get a drop-down list of choices for ちゅごく.
- You can hit the space key repeatedly to cycle through the options. When the one you want is highlighted, hit the return key to select and finalize it. Alternatively, you can select the choice you want by entering its corresponding number. In this case, you actually want the first option. So enter 1 to select it and then the return key to finalize it. Then enter jindesu.
- Hit the space bar, and じん is converted to kanji:
- Hit the return key to accept the underlined phrase, enter a period, and then hit return again. The sentence is now complete.
- This example of inputting Japanese text applies to Windows XP and Windows Vista as well, although the appearance of the menus and icons will be different.
English Windows XP shares a common bug with English Windows 2000 Professional: even though the default input mode is set to Hiragana mode, it actually starts in Direct Input mode. To switch to Hiragana mode, click on the Input Style button on the Japanese language bar.
This brings up a drop-down list of input modes. Move the mouse to highlight Hiragana and click to select.
The input mode is now in Hiragana mode.
You can now follows the steps in the example, starting with section (5).
- Anyone who is reasonably proficient in Japanese language input will take far fewer steps than the example given here. What we are demonstrating here is not the most efficient way to achieve the result, but rather some general principles:
- In Hiragana mode, entering the romaji and then hitting the return key means accepting the hiragana displayed.
- Entering the romaji and then hitting the space bar means converting the hiragana to kanji.
- If the displayed option for conversion is the desired one, then hitting the return key means accepting that choice.
- If, on the other hand, the displayed option is not the desired one, hitting the space bar produces a drop-down list of choices in kanji, katakana, and/or hiragana.
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Univ. of Redlands Asian Studies Program Asian Studies Resources
All contents copyright 2002-2007 Robert Y. Eng
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