Cantonese text software proves a hit

By Jonathan Yeung (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-24 06:49

A new transliteration software developed by a group of Cantonese speakers is winning fans in South China.

Since its launch in May, the program has been downloaded some 12,000 times from its official Website.

"If we assume that people have been sharing the software and getting it from other Websites, then the total downloads could top 50,000," said Wang Xule, a member of the software development team.

"Our aim is to let people, especially those whose first dialect is Cantonese, use the language more efficiently and effectively while writing on a computer or communicating with each other online."

The software, "Input Cantonese with ease", allows people to write more than 30,000 words and 200,000 phrases simply by typing in the Cantonese pronunciations using the Roman alphabet.

Wang's team has launched two versions so far.

"We are working on the 2.5 version, and it is almost done. We hope to finish the whole program soon," said the 24-year-old primary teacher from Dongguan.

Wang said his team had developed the software to "further facilitate Web friends' future online communications".

"So we will never ask people to pay," he added.

Wang worked closely with 29 programmers from Guangzhou, Foshan and Hong Kong on the project. The team members volunteered their time out of a love for the Cantonese language.

"Many Internet users felt that the existing (Cantonese) input methods were backward, so we decided to invent a new one that was not only more user-friendly, but also combined the advantages of the existing input methods," Wang said.

Wang said the software was based on two Cantonese input programs used extensively in Hong Kong and Guangdong.

"With the one from Hong Kong, people can write the words they want using 26 letters on the keyboard, but people, especially those from the Chinese mainland, have found it difficult to use ... Meanwhile, the one from Guangdong is popular among locals because the input method is similar to the one use for Mandarin's pinyin. However, that is not always user-friendly because it requires people to use some special symbols to get some particular words," Wang said.

(China Daily 07/24/2007 page5)

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