The pictographic languages, based on Chinese characters, has been the dominant means of formalized symbolic expression and communications in Eastern Asia since records have been kept. However, it is precisely this antiquity that has lead many to discount pictographic expression as irrelevant to modern technological society. Accordingly, one indisputable result of the advance of modern technology is the spread of the Western orthographic languages into Asia, and with it the decline in utilization of the Asian pictographic languages based on Chinese characters. Unless this trend is reversed, pictographic characters should disappear within the next century in favor of western orthographic characters.
This trend is well underway in Korea, and the advent of Romaji in Japan portents the increasing use of the orthographic system rather than the Hiragana and Katakana syllabaries. This is not too surprising, as the written languages based on the evolved Chinese pictographic system, specifically modern Chinese, Japanese and Korean, have certain intrinsic difficulties not only chronically in terms of learning speed, but more recently in terms of technological utilization. Nevertheless, pictographic characters do have one most important technological advantage: unlike orthographic characters, each pictographic characters represents conceptual information, a significant benefit in terms of information storage capabilities and transmission speed.
Nevertheless, the pictographic languages do not directly lend themselves to the functional requirements of keyboard communications and control as does the western orthographic languages. For character representation orthographic languages require no more than a simple alphanumeric keyboard with a limited number of keys. Because there is no direct correlation between orthographic and pictographic representation of objects, actions, and ideas, much effort has been expended to developed algorithms to adapt the pictographic system to the Western keyboard. This is in itself a prodigious task, one that has spawned so many variants that little standardization is possible.
To better understand the difficulties involved in adapting pictographic representation to an orthographic keyboard, consider the equivalent statement in English and Chinese shown in Figure 1.1 using orthographic and pictographic characters respectively:
Altogether the orthographic rendition requires almost four times the number of keystrokes as required by the pictographic rendition. However the orthographic rendition required only 22 different characters while the pictographic rendition required 68 different characters. Consequently, although the pictographic statement required one-third the number of keystrokes as does the orthographic statement, it requires three time the number of different keys for this modest statement alone.
The Chinese pictographic system requires some 3000 characters for ordinary personal and business correspondence, and twice this number for the more erudite, in contrast the English orthographic system requires only about 60 or so, which includes upper and lower case characters, punctuation, and special symbols. Consequently the orthographic system is readily adaptable to character input devices with limited number of keys.
The difficulty with Western orthographic keyboards is that by their very nature as utilitarian devices with ergonomic limitations they can only provide a very limited number of keys, and although such keys can have multiple functions, the number of characters that can possibly be provided is still very limited in terms of the number required for pictographic expression.
To force the pictographic system to conform to the Western keyboard is to admit to the technological inferiority of pictographic language representation. In an increasingly more technological world such an admission is tantamount to accepting the decline and eventual demise of the language systems bases on pictographic expression. However, this perceived trend can be arrested, and even reversed, while preserving the pedagogy required for literacy in pictographic expression.
What is required for efficient pictographic expression in terms of input speed is a character input device that can take full advantage of the small number of keystrokes required in pictographic expression as shown in Figure 1 while providing the means to rapidly do so with fewer keys that required by the Western Keyboard. This approach requires dispensing entirely with the Western keyboard and instead adopting an Eastern keyboard, one in harmony with Asian pedagogical practices rather than European.
To achieve this goal a purely Eastern keyboard has been developed and is disclosed herein: the Bicameral Keyboard. It is a purely pictographic keyboard without orthographic or western utility. In fact, because the Bicameral Keyboard has no key identification it would not even be recognized in the West as a legitimate data-input device.
The Bicameral Keyboard has distinct advantages in comparison to alternative devices as a means of adapting pictographic language to modern technological requirements:
Although pictographic character typing speeds using the Bicameral Keyboard will be only one-quarter as fast as orthographic character typing, only about one-quarter the number of characters will be required to convey equivalent information.
There are some forty thousand Chinese characters, each capable of representing either a word, a syllable, or some combination thereof. The vast majority defy any rational classification relating character composition to meaning, and even the remainder tax the skills of any taxonomist attracted to this field of research.
However, this factor does not touch the essence of the problem in adapting pictographic language to the orthographic keyboard. The real difficulty lies in the learning skills required by these languages. Although an alphabet is essential to the orthographic languages, there is nothing equivalent in pictographic language.
In the west a child is taught to relate sound units to an alphabet character, with objects, actions and ideas represented by combinations of characters. Eventually these combinations of characters can be equated to a specific combination of keys.
In contrast, in the East a child is taught to relate sound units directly to objects, actions or ideas, and then these to specific characters. Because of the great number of objects, actions or ideas confronted by daily life, pictographic languages require a prodigious number of characters, far more than can be conveniently represented on a Western keyboard (Anadoliiski, Wang, Barnes). Consequently, even in advanced Asian countries such as Japan routine business memoranda are still in large measure manually composed (Gornati, Monroe).
Accordingly, the only manner that these objects, actions or ideas can be related to a limited number of keys of the orthographic keyboard is to adopt the Western pedagogy which involves categorizing the pictographic characters into sound and tone units and then relating unit combinations to key combinations on electronic Western keyboards. Keyboards have been specially designed for this purpose, many of which have been developed over the past decade.
Consequently, at present the Asian child is first taught by the classical pictographic pedagogy for personal and business correspondence, For advanced science and technology Western languages are then taught using the alphanumeric keyboard. As this latter task involves Western pedagogy, for many Asians it is far more logical to simply learn a western orthographic language rather than expending considerable effort on pictographic language for a very limited end. Ultimately, the result will be the decline of the pictographic languages, and with technological advancement, their eventual disappearance altogether except for isolated communities and scholarly research.
As long as the pictographic languages must be compromised to utilize the Western keyboard required by modern technology, the decline of the pictographic languages will become irreversible. However, because the Bicameral Keyboard can be directly utilized for scientific and technological communications, as well as business correspondence, the pictographic languages could maintain their predominant position in those societies that chose to retain pictographic expression.
Because of the sheer number of Chinese characters they they do not lend themselves to practical keyboard representation as required for technological utilization such as commercial correspondence and business reports and particularly for newspaper and magazine composition at speeds necessary for mass distribution requirements.
Cumbersome typewriters have been developed with extended keyboards, some with several hundred keys to represent the most frequently occurring characters. However, because of the large number of less common but still ordinarily required characters, even the largest of such mechanical devices require open keys onto which individual type from a nearby font can be manually secured. Nevertheless, because individual characters generally represent whole words rather than syllables, practical printing speeds comparable to alphanumeric typewriters have been achieved. However, such mechanical contrivances have reached their limit and of course were never suitable to a modern business office (Lee).
Because of the ongoing need to input pictographic language information into computers for storage, correlation, transformation, and transmission, and the ostensible lack of a suitable pictographic keyboard for this purpose, resort is being made to other means of information input.
Apple Computer has developed a speech recognition system that relates audible input signals to specific pictographic characters. While suitable for dictation purposes, it is exceedingly difficult to think conceptually while speaking, to maintain speech patterns in a noisy area, maintain privacy in a public area, and not disturb others in a crowded area.
Motorola has developed a script recognition system that relates a proper arrangement of linestrokes to specific pictographic characters. While suitable to those with reasonable calligraphic skills, this input means is significantly slower than other input means considered because of the large number of linestrokes required for many characters. Such a system would be an excellent tutorial in aiding calligraphy.
With the development of electronic typewriters and typesetters with word-processing capabilities, it would appear that some electronic scheme would appear to alleviate this problem, but this has not been the case. The fundamental problem remains: before electronic reproduction of a character, whether pictographic or orthographic, the character identification must be entered into the machine (Caldwell).
Because of the limited number of orthographic characters used in the West, rarely exceeding sixty, a simple alphanumeric keyboard arrangement was found practical over the past century for manual typewriters. Subsequently this keyboard arrangement was found equally suitable for accessing electronic word-processors. Consequently, is not surprising that westerners perceive that the basic alphanumeric keyboard arrangement as superior for all written language arrangements, both orthographic and pictographic. Nevertheless, almost 1.5 billion people, a quarter of the worlds population, will correspond using pictographic characters for the foreseeable future.Unfortunately, many Asian scholars, knowledgeable in both orthographic and pictographic languages, are so enthralled by western technology that they cannot conceptualize a specifically Eastern keyboard, one essentially free of western influence (Wan, Aoshima).
Accordingly, advocates of the alphanumeric keyboard arrangement do not address themselves to the basic differences between orthographic and pictographic speech representation. The advantage of the orthographic language representation is that words can be constructed from a limited number of characters, each basically representing a sound unit. Consequently memorization skills are minimal. However, words are constructed from syllables, each of which requires a number of sound units. Accordingly, much of the advantage in learning speed is lost in writing speed as an almost unlimited number of syllables must be constructed character by character to express a thought. Of course the alphanumeric keyboard is directly compatible with such an arrangement, as the limited number of sound-unit characters can be represented by a limited number of keys.
In contrast, in pictographic languages each character essentially represents a word. The initial time lost in memorizing thousands of characters ostensibly is recovered in rapid writing speed because only a limited number of characters is required to express a thought, except that pictographic characters can themselves be exceedingly complex. The Western alphanumeric keyboard is not compatible with this arrangement. In contrast a truly Eastern keyboard such as the Bicameral Keyboard could make use of this advantage of pictographic languages in compressing even complex thoughts into relatively few characters, permitting typing speeds equal to or greater than that possible in the West using orthographic characters.
Figure 4.1 illustrates the proprietary Bicameral Keyboard arrangement, the subject matter of a United States Patent (Garfinkle). Two mirror-image keypads are provided, each comprising a thumb key and nine character-keys. Two additional keys are situated on either side of the keypads. In contrast to Western keyboards, neither labels, identifiers nor notation appear on the Bicameral Keyboard.
Finger positions are indicated for the Bicameral Keyboard on Figure 4.2. There are 18 character keys arranged in two groups, or keypads. The three character-keys of each principal keypad accommodates the index fingers, the middle three keys the middle fingers, and the outmost three keys the ring fingers, of the right and left hands. The lower key of each keypad is actuated by the thumbs. The rest position of the fingers are shown in Figure 4.2.
To specify any character will require depressing four character-keys: two character-keys on each keypad independent of actuation-sequence or actuation-rate. Hence, one finger of each hand always remains on the reference row, which has a dimpled key. As an example, Figure 4.3 shows a typical key arrangement to specify two characters.
Only vertical finger motion is allowable however, from the reference row to the key directly above or directly below the reference row. Hence the key arrangement shown in Figure 4.4, with two keys on the same column activated, is forbidden.
Accordingly, the eighteen character keys, nine keys on each keypad, can specify 729 characters. By using the right and left thumb-keys however the number of characters that can be specified is increased four-fold.
The four thumb-key combinations are shown in Figure 4.5. As an example, Figure 4.6 shows a typical key arrangement to specify two characters using thumb-keys.
Altogether therefore 2,916 (4x729) characters can be specified with just the 18 character-keys and two thumb-keys. This number of characters is sufficient for all ordinary personal and business correspondence.
5 ERGONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS
Ostensibly, the bicameral nature of the keyboard presents a problem. It is not psychologically possible to normally conduct two separate manual tasks simultaneously that involve non-continuous or non-repetitive operations. This is particularly true of finger movement. Consequently, the keyboard operator: whether a student, a secretary, a technician, or a novelist, concentrating on a thought, a manuscript text, or dictation, and although cognizant of the proper key combination for the next character, cannot actuate the four required character keys simultaneously. Therefore, depending on the operators propensity, the four character keys will be depressed in some random order.
For this reason the number of character-keys to be actuated for each character is held to a fixed number: two on each keypad. Only when four character-keys are depressed, regardless of actuation-sequence or actuation-rate, is a proper signal produced corresponding to the selected character, with the thumb-keys, if required, actuated before the character-keys. A low momentary audible tone would indicate to the operator that four character-keys have been depressed, so that the operator can then move rapidly to the next character. This will establishing a cadence. It is because of this cadence that input speeds using the Bicameral Keyboard will be high, possibly exceeding a western keyboard.
To aid in maintaining this cadence, the middle row of keys on each keypad is denoted reference keys. Because only two fingers are moved at any one time, at least one finger is always in contact with a reference key on each keypad to locate the position of the other keys, with the combination shown in Figure 4.4 forbidden.
The great advantage of the Bicameral Keyboard, to be used to directly access word processors, page editors, displays and printers, as well as computer programming, is speed. However, typing rate is related to character recognition and identification rate, the rapidity of which can only be routinely achieved by altering the classical pedagogy.
According to the classical pedagogy as represented in Figure 6.1a, in those countries using pictographic expression character recognition and linestroke proficiency are taught simultaneously. While young children have surprisingly acute sound and symbol recognition skills, as evident from their ability to learn not only their native language but foreign languages almost from infancy, the required motor functions needed for writing are not generally developed until later. Hence, if both skills are taught together, writing requirements tend to retard reading progress.
For the pictographic languages students must learn not only to recognize the various characters and commit to memory their assigned meaning, but must master the calligraphic skill of manually representing the characters. Each character comprises a series of strokes, generally between 7 and 15, but can range up to 36. Because the differences between characters can be very subtle, students must cope with exacting stroke type, relative size and position, and stroke intersection.
Considering the number of strokes required for a single character, learning pictographic characters is quite slow in comparison to learning orthographic characters, each rarely requiring more than two linestrokes. Understandably, it generally takes roughly six years for students to master some 3000 characters at the rate of some 500 to 600 each year.
Consequently, mastering Chinese character reading and writing is slow. This is not necessarily because such learning depends on sheer memory power to master reading and exceptional calligraphic skills to master writing, but because these two skills are combined in learning the written language. Although such a procedure is amenable to manual correspondence, it is not amenable to technological proficiency. As illustrated in Figure 6.1a, according to the classical pedagogy keystroke proficiency must be a secondary endeavor if practiced at all.
For technological proficiency however, reading proficiency must be disassociated from writing skills, the technological learning methodology shown in Figure 6.1b. In this manner those using pictographic characters can master parallel reading and keyboard skills before the need for exacting calligraphic skills are required.
To disassociate reading from writing requirements, combined as they are in language learning in virtually all societies, will require basic cultural changes because such a disassociation can only be achieved by relegating calligraphic skills to secondary importance. This eventuality can be particularly dislocating in societies in which esthetics in general and calligraphy in particular are held in high esteem.
Nevertheless, the overwhelming advantage of this dissociative approach in promoting literacy is that reading and transmission can be taught in infancy before motor functions are sufficiently developed to learn calligraphic skills, as is possible using the Bicameral Keyboard. Young children can learn keystroke skills far more rapidly and at an earlier age than they can linestroke skills. Essentially, skill in calligraphy is as necessary in recognizing a particular pictographic character as skill in portraiture is necessary in recognizing a particular person. They are separate endeavors.
Once reading and transmission is mastered, calligraphy can be taught as a separate discipline, one that would probably be mastered relatively rapidly because it is not interspersed with character recognition requirements. Nevertheless, societies utilizing the Bicameral Keyboard would ultimately evolve from ones relying primarily on calligraphy to ones relying on electronic character reproduction and transmission.
While all advanced societies must eventually make this technological transition for all but the most personal correspondence, the need is far greater in those societies relying on pictographic expression. It is recognized that for the less developed countries using pictographic language that the rate at which this transition will take place can not be any faster that the rate which they can acquire relatively expensive electronic teaching aids, nevertheless, with present manual methods even minimal mass literacy is achieved with great difficultly.
The Bicameral Keyboard and the dissociative approach that it represents is for the next generation of infants and students. The present generation of adults, with the exception of highly motivated individuals, probably would not have the patience to rememorize some three thousands characters with their keystrokes rather than linestrokes, although doing so would be comparable with the learning skills required in originally memorizing the characters, but without the calligraphic requirements.
However, with an Eastern Keyboard the next generation of students can leap over the calligraphic obstacle, achieving reading and transmission rates comparable to that of the Western societies. Because the rapid reading and transmission rates will be indispensable for furthering rapid industrial and commercial development, the rate of utilization of the Eastern Keyboard will accelerate as the means to purchase these devices are acquired and their cost decreases with volume of purchase.
Obviously, the usefulness of the Bicameral Keyboard depends on the ability of a student to commit to memory roughly 3,000 keystroke combinations for ordinary correspondence and mentally relate each of them to a specific character, essentially the same number of words comprising the basic vocabularies in orthographic languages. This procedure is strictly a mental exercise and is consequently far less difficult to achieve than is the present practice of committing to memory the linestrokes of the 3,000 most common characters while simultaneous mastering the calligraphic skills required for manual reproduction: an exacting combination of mental and physical exercises.
Essentially, proficiency will require that a particular character be memorized with its equivalent keystroke, then the connection would be made, as illustrated in Figures 4 and 6. However, the keystroke-character combinations illustrated in Figures 4 and 6 are factual representations, not true mnemonics: true aids to memory. They are pictorial representations of keystrokes, not aids in memorizing them. Worse, as these keystroke-character illustrations require the memorization of unique spatial relationships between identical and unconnected components, it is in fact a poor aid to memory. What is required is a true mnemonic. To create such a mnemonic, various symbols can be assigned to each character-key, for example, as shown in Figure 7.1.
Using this formalism, the characters illustrated in Figures 4.3 and 4.6 and their keystrokes can be memorized not as keystroke-character combinations but as symbol-character combinations as shown below, where the under-bar indicates a thumb key.
Because only two character-keys on each keypad are actuated at any one time and two character-keys in the same lateral position on each keypad are precluded, just two key symbols are required to represent the character-keys of each keypad without ambiguity. These are true mnemonics.
Although roughly 3,000 of these symbol-character combinations must be memorized, this exercise can be expedited because pictographic characters are not random unrelated symbols, and accordingly relationships between characters can be reflected in identical relationships between keystrokes. Consequently, in comparison to memorizing the exact linestrokes for some 3,000 characters and exhibiting the calligraphic skills required to manually reproduce them, memorizing the keystroke symbols can be significantly more rapid.
Beyond the basic 3,000 characters required to be memorized there are perhaps quadruple this number that are sufficiently well defined to appear in technological material and might occasionally appear in business, political, and social correspondence. With the exception of scholars, these would ordinarily be referenced rather than memorized.
The classification of these 12,000 characters will require actuation of the lower keys on each side of the keypads, denoted shift keys. Two such characters are shown below.
Engineering terms, for example, are generally represented by pictographic character combinations. Not only would such combinations appear in technical dictionaries with their mnemonic, but could be accessed with the Bicameral Keyboard using a work processor programmed to display character combinations. For the required additional keyboard capacity the upper keys on each side of the keypads, denoted the option keys, would be required.
Option keys will permit direct access to 20,412 characters. Two such characters are shown below.
Beyond the utilitarian purposes already discussed, classification of the Chinese characters by linguistic scholars can be greatly aided by the Bicameral Keyboard which can ultimately accommodate 46,656 characters using shift-key and option-key combinations.
Of course for mass teaching purposes no more than the 2,916 characters sufficient for ordinary correspondence need be accessed by the Bicameral Keyboard. Consequently, at the most basic level simple Bicameral Keyboards, each with a small video display, would suffice. Accordingly, the device accessed need be no more than the simplest word processor with a minimal (2,916 characters) font library and a common printer in a classroom would suffice.
On a more sophisticated level, the electronic teaching aids that have found favor in the West would be far more advantageous in teaching the pictographic languages. For example, a teaching program that electronically displays characters singularly in sequence with its mnemonic will permit the student to emulate the combination a sufficient number of times on the keyboard for retention. Drill exercises would be programmed to require the student to reproduce a number of characters displayed without mnemonics, with the exercise becoming more difficult with proficiency (Gilman). In all probability learning rates significantly greater than 500 characters per year could be regularly achieved with the Bicameral Keyboard using teaching aids.
Moreover, with the Bicameral Keyboard electronic teaching can significantly accelerate calligraphic skills after a certain character recognition proficiency is achieved. A character can be displayed and then by using a graphic tablet the student can attempt to reproduce the character using a stylus. (Chen) Each stroke would be displayed in proper sequence with direction arrows, and the student would superimpose his stroke on the displayed stroke. Such devices have been designed with alphanumeric keyboards for teaching pictographic calligraphy, and could be readily adapted to the Bicameral Keyboard to great advantage.
The use of the Bicameral Keyboard in conjunction with speech recognition systems (Apple) and script recognition systems (Motorola) will go far in accelerating learning of pictographic characters.
Because of its natural bicameral design the Bicameral Keyboard lends itself to modular construction. A center keypad on each module is provided for Arabic numerals for business computations. Using the thumb-keys, the center keypad has provisions for 48 alphanumeric, punctuation, and special business characters that may be required in commercial correspondence.
Personal Computer Keyboard
Because of its modular arrangement the Bicameral Keyboard is highly adaptive to ergonomic requirements with the position of the keypads laterally adjustable as shown in Figure 10b and rotatable adjustable as shown in Figure 10c.
Accordingly, the lateral separation and rotation angle of the modules can be adjusted to the most comfortable position by the operator.
The Bicameral Pictographic Keyboard lends itself admirably to a laptop computer configuration.
The character library would be stored on the removable disc with the character-processing applications, as well as spread sheets and so forth.
10 AUTHORITARIAN CONSIDERATIONS
It is evident from this description that the Bicameral Keyboard is not simply an input device for communication, computing and typesetting but rather would become an integral part of the language itself. The keystrokes assigned to the characters would become as invariant as the linestrokes prescribed many millennia ago. Accordingly the Authority that is chosen to assign the keystroke-character combinations must have plenary jurisdiction in this respect for the particular pictographic language considered. The keystroke-character combinations finally chosen after exhaustive consideration must be the best possible arrangement as they must be set for all time.
The objective of the Bicameral Keyboard is to permit rapid computer programming and access to word processors, page editors, displays and printers using Chinese characters. This objective can be achieved using the Bicameral Keyboard by coupling the reading skills required in pictographic character recognition with keystroke symbol recognition while relegating to a later time the vastly different and more exacting calligraphic skills required in manual character representation. In this manner the rate of character recognition can be significantly accelerated.
Equally important, the widespread use of the Bicameral Keyboard will permit such countries whose students become proficient in symbol-character recognition to pass the Western countries in mass employment of electronic communication. Moreover, the commercial utilization of the Bicameral Keyboard would go far in improving the business practices of concerns using pictographic language representation in terms of utility and speed. In addition the utilitarian advantages of the Bicameral Keyboard would accrue to Westerners aspiring to learn the pictographic characters, particularly with the aid of speech (Apple) and of script (Motorola) recognition systems. The difficulties associated with acquiring the calligraphic skills can be completely avoided. Moreover, the Bicameral Keyboard would be ideally suited to accessing pictographic-orthographic translation machines (Garvin).
Thanks are due to Professor Jin Meilin, English Department, Tianjin Foreign Language Institute, Tianjin, PRC; Professor Luo Xue Jun, Department of Materials Engineering, Beijing Polytechnic University, Beijing, PRC, and Professor An-Min Chung, Department of Business Management, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, for their technical review and personal encouragement.
Technical and pedagogical details concerning the operation and utility of the Bicameral Keyboard are discussed in the following appendices.
A. Character Coding
To appreciate the extent of the character classification problem, consider that almost ninety percent of the characters have two elements, a radical (semantic) element and a phonetic (sound) element; the remainder being either single element or three element characters. A radical element, for example one representing water, is combined with different phonetic elements to form characters representing nouns such as a river, lake, or ocean; or combined with a phonetic element to form a verb such as "to wash".
These two element characters are constructed by combining the various radical and phonetic parts. For some two-thirds of these two-element characters the radical precedes the phonetic element and for the remainder the radical appears above the phonetic element. Consequently, the configuration of the elements can vary depending on their relative positions to maintain the basic box configuration to which all characters must conform.
Although conventional Chinese dictionaries are based on radicals, even the number of radicals is in dispute. Traditionally, Chinese has 214 radicals, but modern classifications range from 186 to 250, depending on the taxonomist. Likewise, the language ostensibly has 858 phonetic elements, but the most recent classifications show up to 1348 phonetic elements (DeFrancis).
To aid in such classifications, several attempts have been made over the years to assign a specific identification number to each Chinese character. The most widely adopted of these is the "four-corner" system, devised some two decades ago. Surprisingly, this system does not depend on radical and phonetic element specification but rather on the predominant linestroke arrangement appearing in each quadrant of the character. The linestroke arrangements are classified into ten categories numbered zero to nine, and these digits are arranged on the four corners of each character.
Because similar linestroke arrangements can appear in the same category, there is some ambiguity in this approach. Accordingly, a subscript 's' is included to distinguish between similar arrangements. These corner digits, when arranged sequentially, comprise the four-corner number. For example:
A more recent classification is the "three-corner" system which categorizes 99 basic linestroke arrangements or "roots" and consequently has less ambiguity than the four-corner system
Of course the three-corner system (like the four-corner system and other such classification schemes), are strictly aids in language analysis for specialists, not aids in mastering the written language for ordinary students.
B. Keystroke Coding
Unlike character coding, for keystroke-character assignment it will be necessary to develop a formalism to represent each character by a keystroke. This can be accomplished using a keystroke notation as shown in Figure B1.
Accordingly, each character has a keystroke code that can be represented as shown in Figure A2:
The left two bracketed group corresponds to the left two character-keys of the left keypad and the right two group the right two keys of the right keypad, the sequence being unimportant, but with the ergonomic restriction illustrated in Figure 4.4. The inner binary subscripts L and R relate to the thumb-keys, with their four actuation combinations illustrated in Figure A2 using the binary convention: 0 indicates a normally open switch and 1 a momentarily closed switch. The outer binary superscripts and subscripts L and R relate to shift-keys and option-keys.
For example, from their assigned key combinations illustrated in Figure 4.3 the four specific characters shown above are represented using matrix notation. Using this notation all Chinese characters can be assigned a character-key combination by an appropriate authority.
C. Program Coding
To actually program the Bicameral Keyboard to produce a distinct signal for each character typed will require that the Keystroke Codes designating each character be translated into Program Coding using a binary notation recognizable by a computer. Each character-key and thumb-key of the Bicameral Keyboard is in either one of two possible states in binary code: NORMALLY OFF (0) or MOMENTARILY ON (1). Upon actuation of any of these keys a momentary (1) signal is produced. From the ergonomic and sequencing requirements of the Bicameral Keyboard it is necessary that four of these binary signals originating from character-keys be combined to produce an unambiguous numerical identification for each character.
There are several ways to format the key combinations to achieve this objective. Figure B1 illustrates one of the least complex. Each character-key is assigned a binary code represented by 2^n where 0<n<8, the thumb key [TMB] by the binary code 2^9 and the shift key [SFT] and option key [OPT] by the binary codes 2^10 and 2^11, respectively.
To specify a specific character all of the binary values of the keys actuated on the left keypad are summed to generate a Left Character Specifier (CSL) and equivalently all of the binary values of the keys actuated on the right keypad are summed to generate a Right Character Specifier (CSR) as shown in Figure B2.
This arrangement is shown schematically in Figure C3. Two binary character specifiers are generated for each character.
For example, the left and right character specifiers for the two character shown in Figure B3 would be represented as
Hence, each pictographic character is assigned two character specifiers: CSL and CSR, which together form a unique character identifier.
Because neither of the two characters illustrated in Figure C3 required the actuation of the thumb keys or the shift and options keys, and therefore they are two characters out of a possible 729 characters which can be specified using the character keys alone. These 729 characters can be represented by a matrix as shown in Figure C4.
With the use of the thumb keys four matrices can provide for the assignment of 2916 characters, sufficient for ordinary conversation and communications. These matrices can be conveniently label as shown in Figure C6.
Accordingly the matrix illustrated in Figure C5 is labeled 000-000 inasmuch as neither of the thumb keys are actuated. The characters shown in Figure C7 however require the actuation of the left thumb keys, and consequently they appear on the separate matrix 001-000.
Two remaining 729-character matrices are required to account for the 2916 characters used in ordinary conversation and communications, and are schematically represented in Figure C8. These four matrices would be required in the library of the basic Bicameral Keyboard memory. If it is assumed conservatively that 10K bits are required per character, then roughly the basic library will require a minimum of 3.6 megabytes. Including the operating system and word processor, probably five megabytes of involatile memory would suffice.
For business and technological usage no more than 12,000 characters would be required. Utilizing the shift keys 11,664 characters would be available, as shown in Figure C9.
Beyond these number of characters is the realm of scholastic studies, and although the Bicameral Keyboard can handle up to 46,656 such obscure characters, most have not be classified and possibly never will.
D. Japanese Kanji System
Japanese, not being strictly an Indo-Chinese language, is written using two parallel syllabaries, Hiragana or Katakana. Each character or kana in each system represents a syllable, and with diacritical marks each system can accommodate well over one hundred syllables, sufficient for the language. The syllabary chosen in correspondence depends on cultural considerations. In modern usage computers generally use a katakana keyboard and word processors generally use a hiragana keyboard.
However, because of the overwhelming number of synonyms in the Japanese vocabulary, when these syllabaries are used alone intolerable ambiguities can occur in the written language, ambiguities which are largely resolved by tone and hand movement in the spoken language. Consequently, Chinese characters (denoted Kanji) were adopted to supplement the syllabaries as each such character has a unique meaning. Therefore, in written Japanese a Kanji character is substituted for a kana when required to resolve possible ambiguities. Accordingly, roughly 2000 Kanji characters must be recognizable in ordinary correspondence; and like Chinese with some 6000 characters known by the erudite. These have been recently classified according to the Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS). In addition, another 6000 Kanji characters are infrequently used.
Moreover, because of the widespread use of foreign words in modern Japanese which can be adequately represented by neither Hiragana nor katakana, the Latin alphabet is widely used, denoted Romaji. Consequently, a single sentence in modern Japanese may contain pictographic, syllographic and orthographic characters; based respectively on word, syllable and sound representations (Kaplan).
Obviously, an alphanumeric keyboard could not possibly accommodate all of the varying requirements of these decidedly different systems, although attempts have been made (Panko, Moon). For this reason facsimile is the most widely utilized form of electronic correspondence in Japan. Hence electronic mail, dependent on a keyboard, is not nearly as widely used. To rectify this problem many attempts are being made to accommodate Japanese pictographic, syllographic and orthographic characters with computer-compatible Western Keyboards.
The Human Applications Standard Computer Interface (HASCI) keyboard is considered one of the most compatible alphanumeric keyboard in terms of geometry and logic for worldwide use by Westerners. Thus, the 5550 Multistation introduced by IBM Japan uses simply the JIS variation on the HASCI keyboard, although this alphanumeric keyboard is not directly compatible with the Hiragana matrix keyboard arrangement (Willis). Consequently, the Hiragana matrix was altered to accommodate the alphanumeric keyboard, not vice versa. This is obviously a losing proposition: changing a familiar character arrangement to accommodate a machine. In contrast the proprietary Bicameral Keyboard would be particularly suitable to the pictographic, syllographic and orthographic characters used in modern Japanese inasmuch as the same pedagogical process could be used in teaching, substituting keystrokes for linestrokes. With the Bicameral Keyboard electronic character transmission of pictographic characters would become as practical as it is for orthographic characters.