Re: FW: Technology leads to cool fonts in Native language

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Mon Sep 18 2006 - 21:54:26 CDT

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    From: "Chris Harvey" <>
    To: "Philippe Verdy" <>; "Michael Everson" <>; <>
    Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 8:53 PM
    Subject: Re: FW: Technology leads to cool fonts in Native language

    > On Mon, 18 Sep 2006 14:38:42 -0400, Philippe Verdy <>
    > wrote:
    >>> • The Kutenai in Canada already use a QWERTY based layout for their
    >>> language.
    >> Note however that the layout shown is on screen only;
    > They keyboard layout graphic is a screenshot from Ukulele, a Mac keyboard
    > layout builder. The screen shot shows what the actual keyboard layout will
    > be.
    > Regarding your previous message, I don't think its appropriate to compare
    > the position of the ‘a’ key on the AZERTY keyboard (left pinky-finger, one
    > row up) with the ‘a’ on this Salish keyboard (left pinky-finger two rows
    > up, one row left) — the US keyboard Grave key.
    >> enough, and that combinations of keystrokes are appropriate and avoided
    >> as much as possible for the actual language;
    > What’s wrong with combinations of keystrokes? Welsh doesn’t need a ‘rh’
    > key, nor does Croatian need a ‘nj’ key, and Vietnamese certainly doesn't
    > need a ệ key.

    Vietnamese does not analyse 'ệ' as a single letter, but as a letter and a tone; given the restrictions on the number of keys, it's impossible to map all combinations with the phonemes and the tones on single keystrokes. That's a bad example.

    The Croatian "nj" is also a bad example: it is certainly not in the most widely used combinations, and Croatian needs all other basic latin letters. Given the number of possible alphabetic keys, only the most frequent letters can be placed on the primary level of input.

    That's the frequency of use of letters in a language that should dicate which letters top assign to the primary level for getting the fastest (and easiest to learn) input method. That'swhythe French keyboard maps the very frequent letters "é", "è" using a single keystroke (digits had to be changed to a Shift position as they are much less frequent in texts, and the functions of CapsLock was changed to Shiftlock so that it offers a convenient way to switch between numeric input mode and text input mode).

    The standard French keyboard still has its inconsistencies (why the full dot was shifted, instead of the less frequent semi-colon? Why the question mark was Shifted instead of the exclamation mark? Why the minus sign was not shifted like the digits for the numeric input mode?).

    Well on most keyboards for desktop, the numeric input mode is facilitated by a separate numeric pad. But there still remains the inconsistencies (that also exist in the English keyboard with the punctuation.)
    How can then be said that a QWERTY/QWERTZ/AZERTY is really better than a layout in alphabetic order? The good question is to wonder how letters are working and are analyzed by native writers of each language, and how frequently they are used.

    A screen-based input method is an easy way to test if the keyboard is sufficient or not for transcripting correctly a language, before a rational layout is found.

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