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Pinyin Input: An Input Method Editor (IME) for Learners of Mandarin

Maybe the two biggest challenges for beginning Western non-native learners of Mandarin are:

  1. Mandarin is a tonal language (like e.g. Vietnamese);
  2. Mandarin has a non-alphabetic script (mainland China “simplified” theirs, as opposed to Taiwan and other “traditional” Chinese communities, while e.g. Vietnam has Romanized the writing system).
    A common workaround, when starting to learn Mandarin, is first using only Pinyin, one of the Romanized phonetic transcription systems for spoken Mandarin which includes special markers for the most common 5 tones.

Typing the tone markers on a PC needs a special program. A number of tone marker input editors are available (see PinyinJoe’s list). I have used and supported PinyInput, which works similarly to Pinyin input IMEs used by native speaking PC users. Instead of offering, in a popup window, Mandarin script when typing with an alphabetic keyboard, PinyInput offers tone markers.

A 1-minute screencast hopefully says more than 1000*fps*duration words: Watch this PinyInput demo.