[OLPC India] Devanagari Effort
sayamindu at gmail.com
Sun Oct 14 03:12:50 EDT 2007
On Sun, 2007-10-14 at 11:31 +0530, Manusheel Gupta wrote:
> We are in search of Unicode ligatures for Devanagari. It appears that
> they have not been defined.
Unicode only defines the base characters, getting ligatures to work is
the work of the rendering engine and the font involved.
>From what I hear, the Lohit font (already packaged in Fedora) is a
pretty good font for Devanagari.
> So, we'll either have to find a way to generate multiple character
> output for a single XKB symbol table entry or, not include the
> ligatures on the keyboard as suggested by a language expert. Your help
> and feedback in this area will be highly appreciated.
All the most commonly used Devanagari keyboard layouts in GNU/Linux do
not have dedicated keys for ligatures. To get ligatures (or more
specifically in this case, sanyuktakshars), the form <consonant> halant
<consonant> is used - see
http://sayamindu.randomink.org/conv_guide/ch01s02.html#id2449024 for a
graphical representation of that. This is consistent what we learn in
our language classes at school, so it shouldn't be a major problem.
The most common keyboard layout for Devangari is Inscript, something
standardised by the DOE, government of India in 1986. It follows a
scheme where the vowels-signs (matras) are on the left of the keyboard,
while the consonants are occupy the right side. This is especially
useful for fast typing (since it ensures almost equal use of both
hands). However, it has got a medium learning curve, especially for
people who are used to English (more specifically QWERTY) keyboards.
However, in the case of OLPC, I'm not sure whether this will be a major
issue since this will be the first time the children will be using a
The layout is available online at http://tdil.mit.gov.in/isciichart.pdf
The layout is also available in XKB, so this means less work for the
However, there are some stuff missing from the Inscript stuff in
Devanagari - more at http://indlinux.org/wiki/index.php/InscriptBugs
Apart from Inscript, for users who are accustomed to QWERTY, there is a
layout called Bolnagri, which follows a semi phonetic scheme (ie,
Devanagari alphabets are mapped to keys which have similar sounding
mappings in QWERTY as well. eg: क (ka) is mapped to 'k', and so on).
Details about this layout, as well as the relevant file for XKB support
is available at http://indlinux.org/wiki/index.php/BolNagri
Thanks to Karunakar (from the Indlinux project) for pointing out the
Please free to ask more questions :-)
Have a great day,
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