Tsong Kit for Chinese language beginners in an Apple operating environment with Chinese Language Kit

Table of Contents

Includes a pronunciation guide to Cantonese consonants, vowels, and inflection, as well as a link to the Tsong Kit radical index. In addition there is a link to a list of special topics related to Cantonese grammar and a complete index to all completed chapters of the basic introductory text including Parts I and II and a large portion of Part III. Click here.

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS9.x operating environment
  • Installed Chinese language kit
  • Basic computing and keyboard knowledge
  • An interest in learning written online Cantonese.

Browser Selection:

This webpage and all subsequent webpages under the Tsong Kit heading, although readable with Internet Explorer™, are best viewed with Apple™ Computer's Safari™.

Special Note to Windows and Other Non-Apple System Users:

As Tsong Kit and the Chinese language are not system dependent, it is likely that non-Apple system users can also make good use of these pages, . Simply skip the parts especially designated for Apple users and find those that you need, but are missing here in your own system's operating manuals. Hopefully, they are written in English, if you do not already know Chinese.

Getting Started

Your browser window

  1. Set your browser encoding language to traditional Chinese and reload this page.
  2. Take note of the pronunciation guide, as it will help guide you through the many pages that follow. Phonetically speaking it is far from perfect, but at least it will give you a useful phonemic guide, so as to be able to distinguish between different character sounds. In the end, you will probably never learn how to pronounce Cantonese well until you have lived in either Hong Kong or GuangDong for some time, but this should be a long term goal, and certainly secondary to the purpose of learning how to write Cantonese with Tsong Kit.

Your Macintosh operating system

  1. Open the language menu in the menu bar at the top of your screen.
  2. Find the Chinese words 緊體中文 and click on the corresponding icon.
  3. Return to the menu bar at the top of your page, find the pencil icon, and click on it. If the drop-down menu that results does not appear in the language of your operating system, scroll to the bottom of the menu, and click on your language. In an English operating system, you would click where it says Show English Menu.
  4. Open the pencil menu still again and find the word SoftKeyboard in English or your own language. Click on it. The keyboard which appears on your screen is your Tsong Kit keyboard.
  5. Place your cursor over any of the symbols while open to a word processing document like Simple Text, Apple Works, or a new message in Outlook Express. If everything is working properly, the symbol on which you clicked should appear in the document.
  6. Go to your hard keyboard and find the key corresponding to the one that you just clicked on in your soft keyboard. The same character should appear again.
  7. Hit the return key. You have just typed your first Tsong Kit character code, also known as a 倉頡根(Tsong Kit gan-1) or 倉頡毋 (Tsong Kit mou-5). It is from this simple keyboard character set and their associated keys that the entire Chinese language can be written in traditional format.

Typing Your First Chinese Name/Word - Tsong Kit

  1. Enter the following tsong kit ma 人戈日口 by typing on the o, i, a, and r keys on your hard keyboard. Then depress the return key once or the space bar twice. What should appear is a character for tsong-1: 倉
  2. Do the same thing again but type on the keys g, r, m, b, and c. The following Tsong Kit ma should appear: 土口一月金. Now depress the return key once or the space bar twice. On your screen should appear the Chinese name for Tsong Kit: 倉頡. You have just typed your first Chinese word/name using Tsong Kit ma. Congratulations!
  3. Now memorize Tsong Kit's SoftKeyboard and practice it on your hard keyboard until you feel comfortable that you can find all of the Tsong Kit ma, when you need them.

From 倉頡根(Tsong Kit gan-1) to 中文字 (dzung-1 man-4 dzi-6) -- namely, traditional Chinese characters

In order to get from the Tsong Kit keyboard and character set that you memorized above, you have one more very important stage of memorization to pass through.

Each of the 倉頡根 (Tsong Kit gan-1), or more simply 根 (gan-1), that you memorized above corresponds to anywhere from one to seven more character symbols or forms known as 倉頡輔助字形 (Tsong Kit fu-6 dzo-6 dzi-6 jing-4) or more simply 字形 (dzi-6 jing-4). For example, the 口根 (hau-2 gan-1) has only one corresponding 字形 (dzi-6 jing-4), but the 心根 (sam-1 gan-1) can represent seven different 字形 (dzi-6 jing-4) depending on the Chinese character that you wish to type.

In order to help you memorize the little more than 100 different 字形 (dzi-6 jing-6) and their correspondence to each of the 字桹 (dzi-6 gan-1) that you have already memorized, the 字形 (dzi-6 jing-1) have been divided into four different groups, each of which corresponds to a different set of 字桹 (dzi-6 gan-1).

Four groups of 字形 (dzi-6 jing-6) and 字根(dzi-6 gan-1)

Each of the above groups can be viewed by clicking on the above highlighted characters. The webpages have been provided by the Hong Kong Institute of Education and can be accessed as a group by clicking here (new window - Chinese only)

In the picture provided you will note that a part of each of some of the 中文字 (dzung-1 man-4 dzi-6) or Chinese characters is highlighted in red. It is these highlighted portions that are the 字形 (dzi-6 jing-4) that you will need to know in order to select the proper 字根 (dzi-6 gan-1), so that you might elicit the desired Chinese character from your Tsong Kit SoftKeyboard.

Once you have memorized which 字形 (dzi-6 jing-4) correspond to which 字根 (dzi-6 gan-1), then you are almost ready to begin learning online written Chinese. There are a few more rules to make your life easy, but I have not gotten that far myself, and already I have managed to accomplish quite a lot.

Author's note

Two years ago, when I was still struggling with the rudiments of Chinese, one of my students provided me with a used Tsong Kit manual whose binding was still in tact. Although grateful at the time, I soon discovered that learning the method would be far more difficult than I ever imagined. On the one hand, Tsong Kit has a logic of its own that often does not coincide with traditional Chinese writing practices; on the other hand, I was having enormous difficulty trying to understand the manual for lack of mastery of the language. All the Japanese I knew helped little in breaking Chinese grammar code, and there were so many new characters having little semblance to Japanese that I was forever checking in my primary school Chinese-Chinese dictionary for possible meaning. As a result, I put the book aside and decided to obtain an electronic writing pad. Unfortunately, I discovered that the only writing pad available for my Apple computer came with software written in Chinese. Moreover, the instructions to the Chinese language kit that came with my Macintosh operating system was also written in Chinese. Overwhelmed, I put aside the whole idea of writing in Chinese online until I knew more Chinese. Fortunately, I now know enough, not only to learn Tsong Kit, but also to make it available to other beginners, who want to get started early. Afterall, chatting online in Chinese is a great way to learn how to write in Chinese, and Tsong Kit is ideal for this purpose.


  • 伍新華。倉頡輸入法用戶手冊。德喜書業。一九九七年。
  • 布裕民。牛津中文初階詞典大。牛津大學出版。一九九八年。
  • 植漢民,羅智宏,黃雅貞。粵音漢字讀本:第一冊,第二冊,第三冊。港中文大學新雅中國語文研習所。二零零一年。
  • 昋港教育學院倉頡之友
  • ProZ.com's Chinese/English KudoZ™ Online Forum


I do not purport to be an authority on the Chinese language, Tsong Kit, or Hong Kong Cantonese pronunciation. This is a self-exercise that I have formalized, so as to make it available to others. Please use it at your own risk and please drop me a line when you believe I am in error.

You can even write and say thanks, if you find these pages useful. It will make my day just a little nicer and eager to help more.

By the way, if you believe it is worthwhile to teach English to Hong Kongers, then just thing how much better you could help them, if you could speak their own language. Being a lead parrot might pay well and even be fun, but in the end language is about communication and the avenues across borders are one-way in both directions.

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