CJK: December 2008 Archives

HKSCS (Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set) Links


A while ago, I wrote about the complexity of specifying a language code for Cantonese, the form of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong. As many East Asian specialists know, Cantonese is so distinct from standard Mandarin Chinese (Beijing) that Western universities offer separate Cantonese language classes.

To further complicate the situation I also recently learned that there is also HKSCS or the "Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set" which is a block of Chinese hanzi characters used just on Hong Kong. I did decide to gather a few links for myself, in case the topic ever comes up. Here is what I found.

Some Basic Notes

1. Microsoft does incorporate HKSCS support into Windows in principle, but you may need to download the appropriate plugins, especially for XP and earlier versions of Windows. See the first few links above for details. Full support may also depend on implementation in other software packages.

2. Recent versions of Mac include Changjie and Janyie option in the Traditional Chinese input utilities. See the Yale Chinese Mac page above for details. Full support may also depend on implementation in other software packages.

3. HKSCS comes in a 2001 and a 2004 version. It is also tied to both Uniicode (UCS) and Big5 encoding (Traditional Chinese, Taiwan) even though the rest of China mostly uses Simplified Chinese.

4. Some recent discussions on the Unicode list (ca. Nov 2008) seemed to indicate that HKSCS was not as wide-spread as it could be, but it does appear that the major vendors are making initial steps.

While I am not an expert on the technical aspects of HKSCS, I do think it's interesting that there continues to be a "Hong Kong" issue even though it's been a part of China for over 10 years. Several centuries of a separate colonial heritage has allowed a Cantonese written standard to more fully emerge than it might otherwise have happened.


About The Blog

I am a Penn State technology specialist with a degree in linguistics and have maintained the Penn State Computing with Accents page since 2000.

See Elizabeth Pyatt's Homepage (ejp10@psu.edu) for a profile.


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