Cang Jie / Chong Kit

The creation of Chinese characters is tradtionally attributed to the Emperor Fu Xi , but first systemised by Cang Jie around 2700 BCE.

Chong Kit, as he is known in Cantonese, is the name given to the method by which character codes can be imported into your word processing software e.t.c., From a chinese perspective there is a very systematic and logical way in which the keys are mapped onto the english keyboard.

CangJie or ChongKit Keyboard Layout

It composes of four sets of characters which are mapped onto the english alphabetical keyboard.

The first set is known as the "Philosophical Set". It comprised of the characters for the sun, moon, and five elements of gold (metal), wood, water, fire, and earth. They are attributed the keys a through to g respectively.

Philsophical Elements

Next come the "Pen Strokes Set". They hold a clue as to the type of pen stroke used in the character. It is represented by bamboo (slant), halberd (dot), ten (cross), big (elements represented in the big character), middle (for center, verticals for lines that have multiple intersections), one (horizonatls, the work character), a bow (angles and hooked lines). These are mapped to keys h through to n respectively.

PenStroke Elements

After that, come the "Body Parts Set". This has four items, basically the person radical, the heart radical, the hand radical, and mouth radical. These have letters o through to r assigned to them respectively.

Body Part Elements

Finally, there are the "Character Shape Set". There are six mapped to s,t,u,v,w,y. In part or whole, elements of the characters are found in other character. The names of the members are the corpse radical, the abbreviated character for 20, the mountian radical, the woman radical, the paddy field radical and also the divination radiacal.

Character Shape Elements

All but X and Z are used, but on some keyboards the word for difficult is shown on the X key, and the word for heavy on the Z. These represent all the alphabetical keys of the Chong Kit or CangJie input system.

The red portions of the words are typical parts that the lead character on the left represents.

My personal view on this method is that it can be quite arbitrary at times, and I do not use it.

A CangJie book that I found written in Chinese also list the 13,000 characters of the BIG5 character set in order of the KangXi Radicals and alphanumerical keys for the Cangjie input, BIG5 code, Pinyin and YuetYin inputs and the less used four digit telegraphy codes. It explains how the Cangjie system is used, and also gives example of characters under the Cangjie glyphs.

I'd like to thank those who have written in to point out any errors which I've now corrected.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday 5th January 1999
and previously on Sunday 23rd November 1997.

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