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Quail input methods with combining characters

From: emacs . mexon
Subject: Quail input methods with combining characters
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 2010 12:46:22 +0000
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20090817)


I'd like to write an input method for Chinese pinyin. Existing pinyin input methods are for typing characters using pinyin, "hanyu" -> "汉语", not typing pinyin itself, "ha4nyu3" -> "hànyǔ".

My problem is that quail rules expect a single character (UCS codepoint) as the result. But I want to insert a vowel with one or two diacritical marks, which is a sequence of combining characters. Does anyone know how to do this, or if it's possible?

For example, I want to type a first-tone "a". Pinyin signifies this with a bar over the character. So when I type "a1", it should insert "a" followed by a combining macron.

(quail-defrule "a1" ?ā)

That gives an invalid read syntax, since the character after the question mark is really two characters.

(quail-defrule "a1" "ā")

That is accepted, but provides two options, either the unadorned "a" or the macron alone.

There's no way I can find precomposed characters for all cases. For example, there's no precomposed character for "ǖ" ("u" + diaresis + macron).

Does anyone know if there's a way to do this, or is quail limited to precomposed characters?

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