Thursday, December 23, 2010

Indic Scripts Keyboards Available for iOS

There is now an app, IndicNotes, which provides a way to input Devanagari, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, and Gurmukhi on the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch. You can copy/paste what you compose into other apps or share directly via email, facebook, or twitter.

PS (6/16/11) Another option are the PaniniKeypad apps, which are available for Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Punjabi, Malayalam, and Tamil.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

iBookstore Language Support

In the iBookstore Publisher User Guide it says:

"What languages does the iBookstore NOT support?

At this time, the iBookstore does not support the following languages: Persian, Old (ca.600- 400 B.C.), Persian, Samaritan Aramaic, Amharic, Arabic, Official Aramaic (700-300 BCE), Imperial Aramaic (700-300 BCE), Burmese, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Arabic,Central Khmer, Lao, and Mon-Khmer languages."

I find it surprising that Chinese and Japanese would be on this list, the others not so much. By implication all sorts of Indic scripts (Devanagari, Tamil, Bengali, Tibetan, etc) are supported, which is interesting as well.

For updated info see here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

iPad Country Releases

Q: In which countries has the iPad been officially released for sale, and when?


April 3: US

May 28: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK

July 23: Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore.

September 17: China, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru

November 30: Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Sweden, and Taiwan

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mobile Safari Displays Embedded Fonts

I just noticed that the Safari on my iPad with iOS 4.2.1 will display embedded .ttf/.otf fonts -- fonts that are not part of iOS but downloadable from a web page. For an example try my Egyptian Test Page.

This is a very important capability, since users are not able to add any fonts to iOS devices.

My iPod Touch, still on iOS 4.0, lacks this feature, so it must be new. Also the new WOFF format, designed to offer greater IP protection, does not work yet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

iPad Language Capabilities Expanded

iOS 4.2 for the iPad was released today and as expected it brings the language capabilities of the iPad up to those available for a while now in the iPhone/iPod Touch, including Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Korean, Traditional Chinese, etc. A full list can be seen in the updated iPad Tech Specs:

No keyboards are yet available for Indic scripts, even though fonts are present for Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Tamil, Bengali, Oriya, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Sinhala. (The full OS X still does not have the last 6 of these.)

For a full list of virtual and hardware keyboard layouts, see

I understand that the Keyboard Dock is available in the following layouts: English, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, and French.

Monday, November 15, 2010

MS Office 2011 Language Support

The Help for Office 2011 for Mac provides the following list of supported input keyboards and methods:

"Australian, Austrian, Belgian, Brazilian, British, Bulgarian, Canadian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Dvorak, Estonian, Faroese, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hawaiian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Inuktitut, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian (F.Y.R.O.), Northern Sami, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss French, Swiss German, Turkish, U.S., Ukrainian, Unicode Hex Input, and Welsh. You can also use the following Mac OS X input methods: Hangul, Kotoeri, Murasu Anjal Tamil, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese."

A list of languages for which proofing tools are available is here.

I am skeptical that Murasu Anjal Tamil will actually work and am seeking confirmation. MS claimed that for Office 2008 as well, and it turned out to be incorrect.

PS For a great analysis by Michael Kaplan of Mac Office 2011 support for Tamil, see this article.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Will MS Word for Mac 2011 Do Arabic and Hebrew?

With the announcement of the Oct. 26 release date and appearance of a MacWorld review, we are wondering whether Word will in fact finally support RTL scripts. This blog entry last month seemed to indicate "no", but the MacWorld reviewer has posted a "yes" for Arabic in the comments section of his own piece.

Some earlier postings based on beta versions seemed to say "yes" or "only for reading".

Update Oct. 15: In response to a question, the MS Office for Mac Team blog owners responded that "Due to technology limitations on the text input tools, Office for Mac’s Unicode support won’t include right-to-left languages such as Hebrew and Arabic."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fixing Broken British English Spell Checking

I've seen a couple of reports in the Apple Discussions about Pages and other apps in 10.6.4 refusing to recognize the OS X British English spell checking dictionary for certain users regardless of the care taken to ensure various settings are right for that.

One fix that has worked in some cases is to download the OED dictionary from this site, install the .dic and .aff files in Home/Library/Spelling, and set the dictionary in Edit > Spelling > Show Spelling (or Inspector > Text > More > Language in Pages) to English (Library).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Reference on Working with Classical Languages

David Perry has recently completed the 2nd Edition of his excellent "Document Preparation for Classical Languages," which covers such topics as Unicode, smart font technology, and how to choose typefaces and editing tools, with special reference to Classical, Biblical, and Medieval Studies and Linguistics. For more info go to

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

iPad Keyboards in iOS 4.2

Some sites have published info about iOS 4.2 beta which has been made available to developers for testing before release in November. According to this, the iPad will have the following virtual keyboards at that time:

English, English (UK), Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cherokee, S. Chinese (handwriting, pinyin, stroke), T. Chinese (handwriting, pinyin, cangjie, stroke, zhuyin), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, French (Canada), French (Switzerland), German (Germany), German (Switzerland), Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese (romaji, 50On ), Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Cyrillic), Serbian (Latin), Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese.

If this list is correct, some keyboards available in OS X will still be missing: Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Tamil.

In addition, some fonts that come with current iOS 4 (but not with OS X) will not have keyboards: Bengali, Oriya, Telugu, Sinhala, Kannada, Malayalam, Lao.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

More Keyboards for iPad Coming in November

Apple has announced the availability of iOS 4.2 for the iPad in November, including "Keyboard and dictionary enhancements: Choose from more than 30 new keyboards and dictionaries, including Arabic, Greek, and Hebrew."

Under Accessibility, they show "Output in braille to over 30 supported wireless Bluetooth refreshable braille displays in more than 25 languages."

(I count 13 keyboards in the current iPad and 49 in the last iPod Touch, for a difference of 36.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New iPod Touch Adds Languages

According to the tech specs of the new iPod Touch announced today, some additional languages have been added in its version of iOS 4:

UI: Cherokee

Localized Keyboards: Tagalog, Cherokee

Localized Dictionaries: Tagalog

(Annoyingly no language info is included in the tech specs for the new Apple TV.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Progress on Language-Related Work in CSS3

Readers interested in new possibilities that will be offered by the proposed CSS3 standards for webpages and other documents (e.g. ePub) that use Cascading Style Sheets may find it useful to check out the current drafts of the Text Layout Module and the Fonts Module.

In the proposed Text Layout Module are rules for specifying direction and block flow which should better enable display of vertical text such as sometimes used for the Chinese, Japanese, Uighur and Mongolian scripts.

The Fonts Module includes the possibility of enabling automatic downloading of fonts from a server, plus ways for authors to specify advanced typographic and language-specific features that may be available in OpenType or AAT fonts.

Of course it may be some time before these standards are agreed and adopted, and even longer before all are supported by Safari and other major browsers. I have seen a report that Firefox 4 beta supports the proposed advanced font features, but have not been able to test it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Magic Trackpad Does Chinese Handwriting Input

Although Apple totally fails to mention it, the new Magic Trackpad will do Chinese Handwriting input just like the multitouch trackpad of certain Apple laptops. The July 29 report here may be of use to people who want to try it.

Update 8/13/2010: Apple has now documented this feature here.

As with the laptop feature, Japanese is not supported.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alternatives for Missing iPad Keyboards

As of 11/1/2010, the iPad app store lists keyboards for Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Korean, Dvorak, Norwegian, Swedish, Turkish, Czech, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Icelandic, Finnish, Serbian (Cyr), Serbian (Latin), Catalan, Macedonian, Hungarian, Romanian, Polish, and Pashto.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Viewing Non-Unicode Indic Language Web Sites

A good number of Indic language web sites have not yet converted to Unicode, but still require custom fonts and are designed to work only with special dynamic font support available in the Windows IE browser. Viewing them on a Mac can be tedious, since you have to find and install the font used by the site and then hope a Mac browser will recognize it. An easier alternative is to download the Padma Extension for FireFox from this page:

It is supposed to provide support for display of non-Unicode Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Devanagari, Gujarati, Bengali, and Gurmukhi.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Perils of PDF

Anyone who has tried to work with PDF files whose content includes complex scripts has probably noticed that copy/paste and searching rarely if ever work. For those interested in this problem, here are five useful blog posts with comments that discuss this, with examples from Tamil:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Native American Language Keyboards

The LanguageGeek website has available a large number of OS X keyboard layouts for Native American languages. Check this page for further into and download links:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Plug-in for Complex Scripts for Adobe Apps

WinSoft has announced ScribeDOOR, which expands the capabilities of standard versions of Adobe InDesign or Illustrator CS4 or CS5 to edit and treat text in various complex scripts. According to their specs, support includes Arabic, Azeri, Bengali, Farsi, Georgian, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Kannada, Kazakh, Khmer/Cambodian, Lao, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Thai, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

iOS4 Displays Indic Scripts, More Keyboards

A major surprise after installing iOS4 on my iPod: Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, and Tamil display correctly! Not only that, this OS has Indic fonts that OS X is still missing: Bengali, Oriya, Telugu, Sinhala, Kannada, and Malayalam. Plus Lao. There is a bug in Sinhala.

Major scripts still not available are Ethiopic, Khmer and Burmese. There is a Tibetan font, but it does not render correctly.

A test page for some scripts is here.

iOS4 provides for using hardware keyboards. As a result, a lot of keyboard layouts have been added to accommodate that, plus various other changes. Here is a complete list.

The Japanese and Chinese IM's have a Custom Dictionary facility so users can create their own pinyin/yomi to hanzi readings. Chinese IM's have a switch to turn on a "fuzzy pinyin" option (but I'm not sure how that works).

The Emoji keyboard choice only works on devices used in Japan (unless you employ special tricks to activate it). But the Japanese and Chinese keyboards have a key which generates a menu of conventional ascii "facemarks".

Switching among keyboards can now be done via a menu that appears when you hold down the "globe" icon.

Voice Control has 24 languages. VoiceOver has 21 and can be set independently of the OS language.

Also see this earlier article.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Romanian Module for

Thanks to Sorin Paliga you can download a Romanian Dictionary that functions as a part of the OS X from this location:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Word Web App Does Arabic and Hindi

MS Word for Mac currently cannot do complex scripts such as Arabic or Hindi, and it looks like the next edition, to be released with Office Mac 2011, won't have that capability either. But my initial tests of the Word Web App now available as part of Windows Live Office indicate that these scripts are possible when using this "cloud" version.

A reader with a PC has confirmed that they display correctly when the Word Web app .docx is viewed or downloaded with a Windows machine. Whether such a doc created using a Windows machine will display correctly on a Mac remains to be tested.

There seem to some input problems with Safari when the Alt/Option key is required -- characters may not appear in the text. Firefox works OK, however. Opera does not work at all.

Monday, June 7, 2010

iOS 4: New Language Features

Judging from the tech specs for iPhone 4, the new iOS 4 (formerly iPhone OS 4), available for iPhones and iPod Touch starting June 21, has the following added language features compared to the current version:

Localizations: Hungarian, Catalan, and Vietnamese

Keyboards: Cangjie and Wubihua for Chinese, plus Catalan and Vietnamese

Dictionaries: Hungarian, Flemish, Catalan, Vietnamese

Voice Control: Danish

iOS 4 is expected to be available for the iPad in the fall of 2010.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Typing Urdu

I did a short article about Urdu a while ago, but it has come to my attention that Kamal Abdali has created a really excellent and comprehensive resource for Urdu on the Mac, which you can find at

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Viewing Hindi, Tamil, Bengali Websites with Your iPad/iPhone/iPod

Apple's mobile devices are in general still unable to correctly display Unicode Indic scripts like Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and Tibetan. But it turns that the Opera Mini browser can solve that problem for web pages by turning the text into a graphic. To activate this feature, you have to type opera:config in the browser address window. A page of settings will then come up, and you go to the very bottom one called "Use Bitmap Fonts for Complex Scripts", set that to Yes, and hit the Save button.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Tibetan Fonts and Keyboards

My thanks to Andrew Main for alerting me to a new source for OS X Tibetan fonts and keyboards. If you go to the downloads page on the Tibetan Geeks site and then click on the file "", you will get a set of 13 Monlam fonts and 2 keyboard layouts.

Also Jomolhari, which seems to work in 10.6 but not in 10.5.

These are a welcome addition to the two Tibetan fonts supplied by Apple and the commercial fonts available from XenoType.

Give us your impressions if you try the Monlam fonts.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

iPad Language Capabilities Update

The iPad became available today. As noted in an earlier article, the language capabilities (listed in the tech specs) are rather less than those on the iPhone/iPod Touch. In particular there is no input for Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Thai, Korean, Traditional Chinese, and also various European languages (see list here.)

iPad Safari and Pages can display all of the missing scripts without problem, however. As in the iPhone/iPod, support for Indic scripts, such as Devanagari, Tamil, and Tibetan is still not available. There is no ability to add additional fonts. A list of included fonts can be found here.

International Keyboards are discussed on pages 19-20 of the iPad User Guide. This states that "some languages written from right to left" are supported, which is clearly wrong at this point.

Japanese Input includes qwerty, azerty, and qwertz Keyboard Layouts, but no direct Kana input. Chinese, in addition to handwriting, provides qwerty and azerty.

There is a dual set of keyboard layouts in Settings, one for the virtual keyboard and one for hardware keyboards. For example, under English Hardware, you can choose US Extended, US International PC, and Dvorak, among others. A full list of layouts is here.

To use a JIS (Japanese) hardware keyboard, set the iPad OS to Japanese before trying to pair it.

As of 7/28/2010, the iPad app store lists keyboards for Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Korean, Dvorak, Norwegian, Swedish, Turkish, Czech, Ukrainian, and Macedonian.

Apps that let you input all unicode characters include Unicode Maps, Unicode, and Unicode Table.

Apple says iBooks can display books written in English, French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish. The built-in dictionary is only available in the English language. I have reports that iBooks can also display other languages, but that the page order is wrong in RTL scripts.

VoiceOver speaks 13 languages and works with all of the applications built into iPad. The list of languages is that found on this page.

Pages 1.0 is only available in English. A 5/13 update adds French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish. Pages cannot display advanced typography in the Hoefler Text font.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Typing Orkhon/Old Turkic

Orkhon, or Old Turkic, is a script used by the Göktürks of Inner Asia and first found on inscriptions dating to the 8th century. It is one of the new additions to Unicode 5.2. Emir Yasin Sari has created both a font and a keyboard for Orkhon, which you can download here.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Embedded Font Support Test

CSS 3 will eventually include standards for code that tells browsers to temporarily download normal .ttf and .otf fonts needed to display text when they are not present on the machine, and the latest Safari, Chrome, and Firefox browsers already support this feature. Some additional info can be found here.

I've seen a report that Mobile Safari (e.g. iPad, iPhone) does not support embedded fonts, unless they are converted to SVG format.

I have put up a test page that should make your browser download the Gardiner font (assuming you don't have it already) to display some of the Egyptian heiroglyphs which start at U+13000 in Unicode 5.2. It may take a bit of time for the characters to show up.

This technique has interesting potential for enabling the display of uncommon language scripts without requiring the viewer to deliberately download and install special fonts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fonts That Expand Word 2008 Language Capabilities

MS Word is normally unable to handle Arabic, Hebrew, plus Indic and other complex scripts. But XenoTypeTech has found that with certain fonts Word 2008 for Mac can be used for Tibetan, Khmer, Tai Le, Kannada, and Malayalam. See this page for info.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New Keyboard for Tagalog

Thanks to Alex Ibrado there is a new keyboard layout for Tagalog (also known as Baybayin or Alibata), a pre-Spanish writing system used in the Philippines. You can get it here.

OS X does not come with Tagalog fonts, but these should work.

Friday, February 12, 2010

OS X Support for Ideographic Variation Sequences

In an earlier article I noted that Unicode 5.1 added codepoints for Ideographic Variation Sequences (IVS), which can be used to trigger display of glyph variants in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

OS X 10.6 has support for IVS in TextEdit, as described in this recent blog article. All you need is one of the Adobe Pr6N Japanese fonts.

Inputting an IVS is not so simple, however, because Character Viewer won't scroll down to U+E0100 and the Unicode Hex keyboard requires typing in two surrogates. The easiest way is to have UnicodeChecker on your machine. Then you can copy/paste from that or type in the character entity (like 󠄀 ) and convert it via the html > unicode item in the Services menu.

PS I see now an easier way. You can put the IVS characters in the Kotoeri dictionary and invoke them via vs0, vs1, etc. directly from the Kotoeri IM. Here is a demo page I did using that method.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

No Language Fixes in Office for Mac 2011?

MS has now released info on the new features expected in Office for Mac 2011 here. It's hard to believe, but there is no indication that the much-requested support for Arabic, Hebrew, and Indic scripts has been included.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Typing Naʻvi

Na'vi is the constructed language of the inhabitants of the moon Pandora in the fiction movie Avatar. Though its native speakers have no writing system (as far as we know), Na'vi is represented in Latin script for earthlings' learning purposes.

The alphabet is the same as English, except for the accented vowels ì and ä, plus a glottal stop represented by ’ . All of the required characters can be made easily using the normal US keyboard layout -- ì is Option/alt + ` then i, and ä is Option/alt + u, then a.

While the author of the language has employed underlines to indicate syllable stress, this is impossible in plain text, so an acute accent might be used as an alternative (made via Option/alt + e, then the vowel).

Ideally for digital representation of Na'vi something other than the straight or curly Apostrophe (U+0027 or U+2019) should be used for the glottal stop, because this character is actually "punctuation" rather than a "letter" and is often ignored in text processing operations like sorting, matching, and searching. Also it cannot be used in an internet domain name.

To avoid such problems one can use the Modifier Letter Turned Comma (U+02BB) or the Modifier Letter Apostrophe (U+02BC). The former is found for the glottal stop in Hawaiian (called ʻOkina) and the latter in Navajo. Unfortunately these are not available on the US keyboard, so one would have to make a custom layout for Naʻvi.

You can download an experimental Na'vi keyboard here. It puts ì, ä, and U+02BC on the [, ], and \ keys, and the acute accent vowels on the Option/alt keys.

For a good site with materials and forums on Na'vi, see

For the language creator's site, see

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad Language Capabilities

Apple released the tech specs for its new iPad on January 27, and they indicate its language capabilities are somewhat less that those of the iPhone and iPod Touch:

Language support for English, French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Russian

Keyboard support for English (US), English (UK), French (France, Canada), German, Japanese (QWERTY), Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, Italian, Simplified Chinese (Handwriting and Pinyin), Russian

Dictionary support for English (US), English (UK), French, French (Canadian), French (Swiss), German, Japanese, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, Italian, Simplified Chinese (Handwriting, Pinyin), Russian

Whether the web browser and other apps might correctly display additional languages is unknown at this time. A test page for various scripts can be found here.

2/12 This page indicates iPad has browser support for Arabic display.

3/12 The Apple iPad Accessibility page say "VoiceOver speaks 21 languages and works with all of the applications built into iPad." This conforms with what is provided with some models of the iPhone and iPod Touch (and much superior to OS X, which is English only unless you buy 3rd-party voices). The list of languages is probably that found on this page.

The first iPads are supposed to be available April 3.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Google Nexus One Language Support

Considering Google has probably the best online translation site, and the Google Search interface is localized in well over 100 languages, I was thinking the Nexus might have particularly good language support. However it turns out to be much more limited than the iPhone. The tech specs say

Display: English (U.S), French (France), German, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Korean, Japanese, Russian

Keyboard: English (U.S), French (France), German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil)