The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 14: Tifinagh, Tamazight, and Berber? Oh my!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2011/12/22 07:16 -05:00, original URI:

Previous blogs from this series:

Today's entry started when I got a message (via the Contact link) from Paul Anderson:

Hello. I've been working for some years on comprehensive keyboard support in Latin and Tifinagh script for a range of Berber languages, with national Berber institutions, associations and universities in North and West Africa.

While researching, I've often been led to your blog by obscure MSKLC and Unicode issues. I hope you can enlighten me again here!

I've been trying to take my keyboard layouts to the next stage, and adapt them for inclusion in or packaging as standard extensions to Windows. If the layouts pass muster with the national institutions, the institutions will then work with Microsoft's local offices.

Material I have read seems to indicate that future keyboards are unlikely to be accepted into Windows if they have deadkeys. I also read that Microsoft will not pay much attention to ISO9995.

I'd like to ask: - If the keyboard needs to be closely key-compatible with French AZERTY to be accepted by users (since Berber is a minority and non-official language and needs to fit with existing physical keyboards and user habits), could it keep deadkeys? - Three of the deadkeys, both "nice to have" but not absolutely essential, do not simply add diacritics, so the Unicode style of typing doesn't make sense. One deadkey yields superscript modifier letters. Another yields obsolete (but similar) forms of letters (forms likely to linger because some users still prefer them). The third rotates Tifinagh letters (similar situation to rotated letters in the Cree syllabary).

Would deadkeys still be appropriate in these situations? - What mechanism is likely for access to occasional letters and punctuation?

I notice that the Canadian international keyboard's Windows implementation uses Right Control + Letter or Right Control + Shift + Letter, not latching, with no 3rd level in group 2. Is that a technical limitation? Berber languages are used in countries where other languages are dominant, and typing of proper names in other languages is common, so an extension layer would be very useful.

Or would I continue to provide my own, by deadkey?

Thanks a lot!
Paul Anderson

Wow that's a lot of info in one message!

I'll start with the Tifinagh question - we've ha it in fonts for a few versions now. And in Windows 8 you will see two Tifinagh layouts based on NM 17.6.000: Technologies de l’information – Prescriptions des claviers conçus pour la saisie des caractères tifinaghes.

Clearly we are more Tamazight focused (Windows 7 even added a Latin script locale):

But the Windows 8 extended Tifinagh layout should be able to support Berber written in Tifinagh, and for Arabic script Berber there are several existing keyboard layouts to choose from.

Of course if you install the beta version of Windows 8 when it comes out (and no, I don't know the date!), you will get the better version of these keyboards (there were a few bugs that weren't fixed until after the Developer Preview).

But by the next version made available you'll see two different layouts, designed to comply with NM 17.6.000, and the two keyboard layouts it describes!

Now I don't know much about the other suggested work to get other keyboards into Windows, but it might make sense to look into NM 17.6.000, since another keyboard for Tifinagh is unlikely for Windows 8. Perhaps it is good enough for Berber?

Microsoft isn't anti ISO9995, we just uae MAKLC sources for our builds, so no matter how it is described in a standard, it must haave a reference implementation built with MSKLC for us to make use of!

For the other issues related to dead keys, such uses are reasonable and might make sense for users who are working with dead keys now, though I know they are not in the standard we were working from.

Neither Windows nor Microsoft is truly anti-deadkey when they make sense, and I wouldn't want any of my rhetoric meant to discourage people from using them then don't make sense to stop people from using them when they do....

Here are recent versions of the basic and extended keyboard layouts for Tifinagh, in the BASE, SHIFT,and ALTGR states.





In fact, you can install MSKLC on Windows 8, load up those two keyboards, and you can then create setups to install them downlevel if you like.... :-)

The point Paul Anderson raise about wanting a bilingual keyboard is not one that the standard embraces, though the idea has some merit -- perhaps in a future version?

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referenced by

2012/10/26 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 28: We finally fixed that 'Install New Languages' thing!

2012/10/02 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 27: No, the T and the H aren't silent...

2012/08/20 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 26: Hey Windows 8, there's someone on the phone for you.

2012/07/11 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 25: Something old, something new, something repurposed, and something...

2012/06/07 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 24: I Adar you! Hell, I Double Adar you! (Windows 8 ed.)

2012/06/05 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 23: Tamazight? Outta sight!

2012/04/12 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 22: Digit Substitution 2.0

2012/03/08 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 21: The Windows 8 Hijripalooza extraordinaire!

2012/03/02 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 20: Yes, it's Bangla. Not Bengali!

2012/02/21 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 19: In honor of International Mother Language Day...

2012/02/15 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 18: Two scripts that share ten digits can be trouble

2012/02/02 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 17: Today I feel like translating you more than before

2012/01/24 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 16: We can't scale to a Xishuangbanna Dai locale, but…

2012/01/17 The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 15: Fixing our listings up in Windows 8!

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