Japanese Mac keyboards and writing software

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Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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I thought these pics should be posted somewhere on the web for anyone searching for this information, and there's a couple questions here too.

I picked up a Japanese Powermac 5400 that came with the install disks for Japanese OS8 and Japanese OS9. The OS8 disk has a cute video tutorial with a peppy Japanese OL (office lady) who bounces around desktop icons as she explains everything. I'm posting a photo of the keyboard that came with the 5400 here:

Hiragana keyboard

The 5400's keyboard is the short keyboard like the one that came with the later portable macs, but has one significant difference: the spacebar is shortened so that two keys are added on either side of it. I don't know what the kanji says on those two keys, and even my Japanese scholar friend doesn't recognize them, so if anyone can translate, please do. But I believe those keys are for switching between hiragana, katakana, kanji, and romaji. As you who know can see, the kana on this keyboard is hiragana:

short keyboard spacebar

I'm also posting a photo of another Mac Japanese keyboard I picked up years ago here:

Katakana keyboard

The kana on this keyboard is katakana and is actually stickers that have been applied to a regular Mac long keyboard (the kind with the cord coming out of the middle of the back that came with the 6400's, etc.).

Katakana and hiragana are identical simple phonetic syllabaries with different applications (the Japanese writing system is one of the most complex--and many say craziest--writing systems in the world). Kana refers to either hiragana or katakana.

This is the first time I've tried a Japanese keyboard and it's fascinating to use. I always wondered how the Japanese writing system (or any other complex writing system) could use the limited keys on a keyboard. What went on with Japanese typewriters? Does anyone know? With Japanese word processing software, it's actually pretty fun. You can select whether you want to type in katakana, hiragana, or romaji (Latin alphabet) and there's a small control panel that lets you switch quickly, and those two extra keys also seem to perform that function. The keyboard also suggests that you can type vertically (traditional Japanese writing style) as well as horizontally (notice the underscore key). What's really cool is, that as you're typing along, the writing changes to what's appropriate. You can start typing in romaji and as the syllables collect into a word it may change on the screen to kana, and as the kana collects, it can change into the appropriate kanji (Chinese characters), or just start with kana and it changes to kanji with the appropriate mix of kana and kanji. Word processing software must have been quite a liberating experience for all those peppy OL's--and the OG's too!

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catmistake's picture
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beautiful

I don't know what the keys mean, but they're not hard to look at... beautiful symboling, incomprehesible (to me) lettering. I want a separate T-shirt for each character.

When I first saw the image post title, I read it as:
"Long Japanese keyboard with Katana" (-!-) (you know... part of the Samurai desktop hardware package)

Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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Lesson 2

I should have said I don't know what the key on the left of the spacebar means. The key on the right says "kana" in the two different syllabic styles--the bottom is hiragana which is the native script invented by the Japanese long ago used for Japanese words, and the top characters on the right key is "kana" in katakana which is the script used for the foreign words that have been formally japanized so that they can be spoken with the Japanese tongue (ie. McDonalds is pronounced by the Japanese "ma-ku-do-na-ru-do," and is written in katakana using those syllables, so when reading Japanese, the strange foreigners'--gaijin no--words are duly indicated and set apart from the truly Japanese words), so the right key is obviously the key to switch between hiragana and katakana. Applefritter would probably be spoken and written "ah-pu-ru-fu-ri-ta" with equal emphasis on each syllable. New foreign words will assume an officially authorized pronunciation and spelling sooner or later. I don't know who makes that authorization, or how.

coius's picture
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I know a bit of japanese

got pulled to something and didn't get back to learning it all. I know they do it in Sounds

Like "ah (kinda like aaah) to "tu" sounds more like "doo" "di" sounds like "Dee" same with "ti" the "I" mostly sounds like an "E"
you roll the "R"s but mostly harsh sounding and done REALLY quick.

stuff like "Zutto" sounds like "Zoo (long "T" Sound, more of a pause while doing the harsh T) oh

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catmistake's picture
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Powers here picking up on this?

Quote:

Applefritter would probably be spoken and written "ah-pu-ru-fu-ri-ta" with equal emphasis on each syllable.

Wow... its... like a differernt language!

Tom? As your aware, merchandising is the garnish of success. You simply must silkscreen up some mock-turtlenecks with these characters on it (after all, historically, Apple seeems to spend as much effort trying to impress the Japanese as it does the whole rest of the world, and what's good for Apple is good for Applefritter).

HC, any chance you can put those characters together and post it so all us intellectuals can all see what "Applefritter" might look like in another language?

I think I'm turning... I really think so.

Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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アップルフリッター

Applefritter: アップルフリッター

The two ッ denote double consonants on the syllable following.
The ー denotes extended vowel sound on the preceding syllable.
The circle on the プ denotes a fu/hu (フ) changed to pu.

Hopefully, you didn't exclude foreign writing systems from your OS X installation.

Ganbatte ne!

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Jon
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You know, it was, like, 6 yea

You know, it was, like, 6 years ago or so, and I could have picked up at least a case or two (20-40) of these kind of keyboards, in AEK format, or Apple Design format. I passed them up because I wasn't sure I could resell them...

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