RE: ALT Codes for Accession Countries

From: Marco Cimarosti (
Date: Tue Jun 25 2002 - 08:11:43 EDT

Toor, Indie wrote:
> At the ECB we use Windows NT 4 Workstation. We have a
> Translation department
> that wishes the use of the special characters for the
> countries mentioned
> below:
> * Bulgarian
> * Czech
> * Estonian
> * Hungarian
> * Lithuanian
> * Latvian
> * Maltese
> * Polish
> * Romanian
> * Slovak
> * Slovene (Slovenian)
> * Turkish

I would take Bulgarian off the list. Bulgarian is written in Cyrillic, and
the only reasonable way to type it is with a Cyrillic keyboard. Same for
Greek, among EU languages.

> Is there a way I can configure NT 4 Workstation to allow the
> use of the special ALT Codes for the above.

I don't know, but why do you ask? Do the European Central Bank translators
use ALT+code to enter "accented characters"!? That is a barbaric method!

This confirms my impression that the European Bank (and the EU in general)
has serious cultural gaps with linguistic issues. The ECB is probably the
only institutions in history who issued banknotes including a single word
and several spelling errors, which people all over Europe feel compelled to
correct with red pens. :-]

As others said, the right way to type in several languages is to install all
the relevant keyboards and switch them as typing. On Windows systems, the
switching keyboard can be as easy as hitting a single key.

Another possible way is implementing corporate keyboard(s) containing all
the relevant characters. Good examples of such multilingual keyboards are
the Swiss keyboard (which supports German, French, Italian and Rumantsch)
and the Spanish keyboard (which supports Castilian, all the local languages
of Spain, and all mainstream European languages).

Considering EU languages plus your list above (minus Greek and Bulgarian),
an hypothetical pan-European Latin keyboard could look like this:

ıİ\ 1!¡ 2◌¨" 3◌̀£ 4€$ 5%* 6&| 7◌´/ 8(« 9)»
0=◌° '?¿ øØ+
        qQ¹ wW² eE³ rR® tT◌̨ yY¥ uU◌̆ iI◌¯ oOº
pP¶ þÞ[ đÐ]
        aAª sSß dD± fF◌̋ gG­ hH# jJ§ kK© lL·
łŁ¬ œŒ{ ħĦ}
æÆ@ zZ÷ xX× cC¢ vV◌̌ bB◌̂ nN◌̃ mMµ ,;< .:>

This is definitely very crowded and not very ergonomic for mono-lingual
users, but it has all the needed characters at the fingertips (including
redundant ones like ¹²³º¶ª#§¬{}¢µ).

Of course, all "accented letters" are obtained with a pair of keys: base
letter + diacritic mark (or the other way round, if dead keys are used).

A more ergonomic alternative could be to define a keyboard for each
language, but limiting language-specific variations to a limited part of the
keyboard, and keeping the rest of the keyboard uniform.

In the example below, the double asterisks on the right-hand side represent
six language-specific keys with two slots available (unshifted and shifted).
These can be assigned to either a lowercase/uppercase pair (including
precomposed accented letters, if frequent), or to a pair of unrelated
symbols or diacritics:

◌´◌̀◌̂ 1!¡ 2"@ 3#£ 4€$ 5%* 6&| 7/± 8(« 9)»
0=◌° '?¿ **+
        qQ¹ wW² eE³ rR® tT¯ yY¥ uU iI­ oOº
pP¶ **[ **]
        aAª sSß dD fF gG hH jJ§ kK© lL¬
**· **{ **}
◌¨\| zZ÷ xX× cC¢ vV bB nN◌̃ mMµ ,;< .:>

_ Marco

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