The Wubizixing input method (simplified Chinese: 五笔字型输入法; traditional Chinese: 五筆字型輸入法; pinyin: wǔbǐ zìxíng shūrùfǎ; literally "five stroke character model input method"), often abbreviated to simply Wubi or Wubi Xing, is a Chinese character input method primarily for inputting simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese text on a computer. Wubi should not be confused with the Wubihua (五笔画) method, which is a different input method that shares the categorization into five stroke types with Wubi.
The method is also known as Wang Ma (simplified Chinese: 王码; traditional Chinese: 王碼; pinyin: wáng mǎ; literally "Wang's code"), named after the inventor Wang Yongmin (王永民). There are three Wubi versions that are considered to be standard: Wubi 86, Wubi 98 and Wubi 18030. The latter two can also be used to input traditional Chinese text, albeit in a more limited way. Wubi 86 is the most widely known and used shape-based Input Method for full letter keyboards in Mainland China.
The Wubi method is based on the structure of characters rather than their pronunciation, making it possible to input characters even when you do not know the pronunciation, as well as not being too closely linked to any particular Chinese dialect. It is also extremely efficient: every character can be written with at most 4 keystrokes. In practice, most characters can be written with fewer. There are reports of experienced typists reaching 160 characters per minute with Wubi. What this means in the context of Chinese is not entirely the same as it is for English, but it is true that Wubi is extremely fast when used by an experienced typist. The main reason for this is that, unlike with traditional phonetic input methods, one does not have to spend time selecting the desired character from a list of homophonic possibilities: virtually all characters have a unique representation.
As its name suggests, the keyboard is divided into five regions. The Chinese character 笔 (bǐ), when used in the context of writing Chinese characters, refers to the brush strokes used in Chinese calligraphy. Each region is assigned a certain type of stroke.
- Region 1: horizontal (一)
- Region 2: vertical (丨)
- Region 3: downwards right-to-left (丿)
- Region 4: dot strokes or downwards left-to-right strokes (丶)
- Region 5: hook
A major drawback to learning Wubi is its learning curve. Memorization and practice are key factors for proficient usage.
In this article, the following convention will be used: character will always mean Chinese character, whereas letter, key and keystroke will always refer to the keys on keyboard.
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