Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Typing Yoruba

Yoruba is one of the major languages of Nigeria, and many speakers have also emigrated to the UK, Brazil, and the US. It is written with the normal English alphabet plus a few extra "dotted" letters: Ẹ/ẹ, Ọ/ọ, Ṣ/ṣ. Also tone marks are required, grave ` for low and acute ´ for high. Lucida Grande is probably the best font to use.

The dotted letters can be made with the US Extended keyboard layout, using Option + x, followed by the base letter. Tones can then be added using Option + Shift + ` and Option + Shift + e. You can also download a custom Yoruba keylayout from my iDisk. This puts the dotted letters on the 1, 2, and 3 keys and all the vowels are deadkeys. You type the vowel and then choose a) 4 for grave accent/low tone, b) 5 for acute accent/high tone, and c) any other key for no accent/mid tone. The Naira symbol is on the = key. This layout also has the special characters needed for Hausa and Igbo (Ɓ ɓ Ɗ ɗ Ƙ ƙ Ƴ ƴ Ṅ ṅ Ị ị Ụ ụ).


Adélékè Adéẹ̀kọ́ said...

Your information on Yoruba character are very helpful. But one major problem remains unsolved: it is still not possible to combine an underdoted letter (ẹ, for example) and a tone mark (high or low) on top. Even after following your instructions, the last diacritic to be added to the letter does not allign; it shifts to the next space.

Also: can you please post instructions as to how to install your Yoruba keylayout. Thanks.

Tom Gewecke said...

Some fonts or apps may not be able to do the two diacritics together correctly. Try it with Lucida Grande and TextEdit and let me know if any problem. To install the layout, put the file in Home/Library/Keyboard Layouts, then logout/login, go to system prefs/international/input menu and check its box (plus the box for "show input menu in Finder"), and then select the layout from the "flag" menu at the top right of the Finder. You can see which key does what with Keyboard Viewer, which is activated just like a keyboard layout.

Adélékè Adéẹ̀kọ́ said...

All the diacritics alligned perfectly in Lucida Grande font. Thanks. I will install the keyboard layout and ger back to you. Are you a scholar of Nigeria?

Tom Gewecke said...

I'm not a scholar, but I lived in Lagos during 1968-70 and have maintained an interest (but no skill) in the languages of the country.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bro,
Thanks for the help, I was just looking for something like this...One question, though. What about low capital O. I have your layout running and when I press lowercase low o, ò, it works, but capital low O gives me O` with the grave mark right next to the letter.
Maybe there's a special technique? (I don't seem to be able to find a keyboard viewer on my OS10.4.10)

Tom Gewecke said...

It looks like an bug in my layout. It will work right when you hold the shift key down the whole time (but you should not have to do that). I will need to fix it.

Keyboard viewer is activated in system prefs/international/input menu, just like you activated the Yoruba layout.

Tom Gewecke said...

I have put a new version of the Yoruba keyboard on my iDisk which will hopefully work better. Let me know if there are still problems.

Anonymous said...

Hey thanks a lot. This is really cool. It works so well...This makes me appreciate my Mac that much more.

wordsmith said...

i tried to open the yoruba file from your idisk but it opened as a Quicktime file (which didnt work...) but thanks though

Tom Gewecke said...

You don't open the file. You just put it in Home/Library/Keyboard layouts.

natty c said...

I am so happy to find this blog. It is great to be able to finally type yoruba correctly. I do have one problem - I am having trouble putting the tone marks on the N. Is that possible?

Thank you

Tom Gewecke said...

I had forgotten to include the n's with tones. I put a modified layout on my idisk to include those. Let me know if it does not work.

Anonymous said...

You are such an awsome dude!

Everything works on the Mac, including the ns.

Thank you so much!

Eartheleph said...

Hey Tom,
Chaz again. I'm having trouble installing the keboard layout on mac 10.6... doesn't seem to recognize it in the new "language & text" control panel.
Any hints?

Tom Gewecke said...

Chaz -- email me (tom at bluesky dot org) and I'll send you a copy, which may work better.