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Typing non-latin letters on a computer How does one go about to type non-latin letters on a computer and on italki? If I want to study, say, Spanish, then I have little problem typing on my computer with my keyboard, but if I want to go and study beginner Russian or beginner Chinese, then I obviously have to take some steps to produce the new characters. How does one do that? This is hurdle number one to overcome. And if you, like, change your keyboard to, say, Russian, how do you know what letter goes where? One shouldn't even speak of keyboards for Chinese, I guess, but you do you enter those different signs into a computer (given that you know what signs to enter, that is)? All this is a mystery to me. I could search on Google, of course, but found it's easier to ask the question here where so many people have already solved it!
Sep 16, 2016 4:24 AM
Comments · 6

Typing in Chinese is actually very easy. There's a system called pinyin used to transcribe Chinese phonetically using Roman letters. You can use any old American keyboard, no problem. Basically I switch to "Chinese mode" on my computer or phone, type a sentence/phrase like "dajiahao" in pinyin, and the computer will guess which characters I am looking for. It also provides other characters with the same pronuciation and if necessary you can scroll through to find the right one. 

I don't know about Spanish or russian, but I'm sure there are ways to configure your pre-existing keyboard. 

September 16, 2016

The long (and tiresome) way is to use the Character Map program on Windows... that is, if you use Windows.

You can add extra keyboard layouts and toggle between them. I have about 10 of them set up for different languages. How to do this depends on your system, so here is where you need to do some online searching.

Keyboard stickers are available if you want to make your keyboard "bilingual". You can search for these as well.

To be honest, the easiest way is learn how to touch type; don't worry about the speed.  I use a Turkish keyboard but often type in Russian. I simply make myself remember what letter is where.

(For Chinese, look up "bopomofo" as one option.)

September 16, 2016

I think I might have found my own answer here:

Found what I needed here (and more) 

This is my own keyboard:

September 16, 2016

Peachey gave a good explanation. I'll add two more comments:

I've heard of some people printing out the keyboard layout and taping it to their computer screens instead of buying stickers. However, I imagine this would take someone a bit longer to type. Stickers are usually only a few dollars. 

You can also use ALT codes. In some cases where the alphabet of your target language is close to your native language, it can be fairly easy to use. I use ALT codes for Spanish rather than adding an alternate keyboard layout. 

September 16, 2016
You can add keyboards on a tablet or phone as well. I have a Russian keyboard on mine. 
September 16, 2016
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Language Skills
English, Russian, Spanish, Swedish
Learning Language
English, Russian, Spanish