New Pinyin IME
November 26, 2007 12:21 AM   Subscribe

I need a better Pinyin input system than Microsoft Pinyin IME.

I like how Microsoft pinyin works in general, but it is way to buggy and slow. Typing in Chinese shouldn't noticeably slow my computer down. Plus the learning algorithm it uses makes no sense. I type in "nihao" and it gives me 倪豪 first instead of 你好.

Any suggestions for better input systems that use the same general style would be welcome. (I'm not about to attempt wubi).
posted by afu to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Check out NJStar - this is a free, small, and handy word processor complete with dictionary, translator (very literal!) and the ability to switch between simplified/traditional. Easy, straight-forward, and user-friendly. Also: free.
posted by mateuslee at 12:26 AM on November 26, 2007

the first choice for "nihao" is indeed 你好. You can also type in "nhao". So, "zmyang" also yields the correct zenmeyang output as the first (and only) match.
posted by mateuslee at 12:28 AM on November 26, 2007

Oooh! Oooh! Oooh! I know this one!

The Sogou IME is awesome. It's so cool that Google tried to copy it. It's really good at guessing what you mean to say, even when you only type in the first letter of each syllable (e.g. nh becomes "你好", xx becomes "谢谢" etc.). It learns pretty quickly what vocabulary you type often, and updates its usage database from the internet, although this process is totally unobtrusive, and there isn't any spyware/malware bundled in with it.

The only drawback is that you can't specify the tone of a particular syllable as you can with MS IME; however, you can use wubi to distinguish which character you mean with the first few strokes, assuming you don't feel like browsing through the list.

Make sure you set your system's encoding for non-Unicode programs to Chinese, or it won't work.
posted by pravit at 1:01 AM on November 26, 2007

I was coming to tell of the Google version of the Sogou thing. I use Linux (and SCIM) myslef, but MeFi's own bokane had some things to say on the Google IME.
posted by Abiezer at 5:21 AM on November 26, 2007

Oh man, that Google IME thing still makes me mad. It's a complete ripoff of the Sogou IME(at least when I tried it), down to the wordlist and appearance. I understand they've since changed the IME to be less similar to Sogou, though.
posted by pravit at 12:12 PM on November 26, 2007

Coming way late here, but for the Mac, FunInputToy (aka FIT) (free, open source, apparently ported to the iPhone) and QIM ($19, much better wordlist, much smarter parsing, rather more resource-intensive) are both better options than the utterly crap built-in Apple Pinyin IME. If you're into Wubi and other such forms of masochism, FIT may be the way to go, but if you're sane and don't mind forking over the $19 -- not that it'll die without registration -- then QIM is a much better way to go. Particularly if you're dealing with classical Chinese, as it's got lines from most well-known Tang poems in its wordlist, saving you from having to manually select each character.
posted by bokane at 12:02 PM on February 11, 2008

D'oh - should have mentioned this, but to be fair to Microsoft's IME, the newer version (downloadable from their site, I think) is actually quite good and doesn't generate as much weirdness as older versions, but still doesn't hold a candle to the Google and Sogou IMEs. And a killer feature (in my book at least) of the Google IME is that it allows you to sync vocabulary items through your Google account, so that if you teach the IME a new term on one computer, it'll know the same term on other computers, provided that you're logged-in.
posted by bokane at 12:04 PM on February 11, 2008

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