RE: Optimus keyboard

From: Michael Maxwell (
Date: Mon Apr 30 2007 - 16:40:01 CST

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    David Starner wrote:
    > On 4/30/07, William J Poser <> wrote:
    >> A great many minority language
    >> users do not need to switch back and forth constantly - if they are
    >> going to use their minority language, they just need a keyboard
    >> that lets them enter it efficiently. [...]
    >> It is true that SOME minority language users will also have to write
    >> frequently in a larger language.
    > It all depends on what you consider a minority language.
    I don't think the question of whether Hausa is a minority language affects Bill's point. Rather, he's questioning
    >> whether the lack of such a keyboard is the sticking point for
    >> widespread use of minority languages...
    So he's asking: If language X *is* a minority language, then is the lack of a "visible" keyboard important?
    >> For such users the switching issue is not important - what is important,
    >> beyond being able to obtain the keyboard mapping they need, is
    >> LEARNING the minority language mapping, for which keycap
    >> covers and on-screen keymaps may be quite adequate.
    To which I might add that, judging from the proliferation of alternative keyboard layouts I have seen for some languages with a mid-sized market share (like Bangla--which is in the top ten languages in population; or Yoruba), writers of minority languages can be thankful that their language doesn't have a *larger* market share. If they did, those writers would have a keyboard standardization problem on top of all their other problems. (Imagine trying to type on someone's Dvorak keyboard.) If OTOH you type in a minority language that has a very small market share, there's probably only one keyboard layout (and it's probably the same as the national language's keyboard, with exceptions like Inuit).
    As for the good keyboard support in GNOME and KDE:
    > That's not true for the other 4,000 languages in the world.
    > I think that most users of minority languages are going
    > to be in the boat of having to use another language on a computer.

    Those users will probably have to use another language with pencil and paper, too, since most of those 4000 languages are unwritten. I would guesstimate that there are in the neighborhood of 1000 to 1500 written languages in the world today, with the majority of those having been first written in the last fifty years or so (and the alphabets for those languages often being in flux, and sometimes in disuse). There are another 100 or 200 written languages which are now extinct. Oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be any comprehensive list of written languages; that information isn't always clear in the Ethnologue. I suppose Omniglot comes as close as anything.

        Mike Maxwell

       CASL/ U MD

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