Chinese Relapse

After a prolonged lapse I will soon be restarting my attempts to learn Chinese by signing up for proper classroom-based lessons. My hope is that I’ll be able to learn better than previous DIY attempts. I’ve even been provided with a student ID card, effectively turning me into a bona-fide student once more.

On the development side of things I’ve finally updated all of my WordPress plugins to support the latest version of WordPress, as well as fixing most outstanding problems. I’m also planning to distribute the plugin library that I’ve developed over the course of the past few years. This will likely take place as a series of articles documentating how to use it. Hopefully this will prove useful either as the basis for other plugins, or simply as a learning resource.

Pinyin converter

I’ve added a small Pinyin converter to the InScript plugin. Pinyin is a method of transliterating Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet. As Chinese is a tonal language, it is important that these tones are included in the pinyin. This is achieved through the use of accents and other marks over certain vowels.

The reason for the converter is that these accents are not easy to type, especially for people with keyboards in an accent-less language (i.e. English). It is possible to enter the characters using some form of character mapping tool, or by entering the HTML code directly, but this is not an intuitive method.

Instead, a popular technique used on many websites is to write the tone as a number. For example, zhong1guo2 would indicate that the ‘o’ in zhong needs the first tone applied, and ‘o’ in guo needs the second. While this is an easy method of entering the text, it does not look good, and is another layer to understanding the tones themselves.

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