Update 2010-10-07: I’m now working on an Apple and am thus no longer able actively to support the keyboard drivers below. But they still work! And I very much hope I’ll soon be able to share some of the rather fabulous Mac things I discovered recently…

Keyboards vary according to the language they are used to express and the country the language is spoken in. Most must have been designed for, and perhaps by, monoglottal people since the changes introduced are often unnecessary. For instance, if I select, say, a Swiss French keyboard on my laptop, which is equipped with a US keyboard, the round brackets will migrate one position to the left, that is, they will now correspond to the shift states of 8 and 9. Or to change the example, the French generally use an AZERTY keyboard, the French-speaking Canadians a QWERTY one, and the French-speaking Swiss a QWERTZ one. Those writing in three or more tongues, and with as many keyboards, often have no other choice than to live with Confusion.

The two keyboards I designed—the one for languages written in a Latin alphabet, the other, for Greek—are best used in concert since brackets, trema, ellipsis, … are assigned the same keystrokes. The drivers should work with Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, etc., on x86-32, x86-64, and IA-64 platforms.

The installation takes about fifteen minutes. To begin with, create a restore point. Next, download one of the zip files below on your desktop, unzip it, and move the resulting folder (called either kbd-la12 or kbd-gr15) to your root drive—for most users, this would be the drive C. Next, quit any application except Windows; make sure, in particular, that your antivirus is no longer running. You then open the folder C:\kbd-la12\ (for Latine) or C:\kbd-gr15\ (for Graece), double-click on a file called setup.exe—and after a few seconds the program will announce that the installation has been successful. Lastly, reboot.

The easiest way to switch keyboards is to use your mouse: simply click on the Language bar and select the desired keyboard. (In case the Language bar is hidden, right-click anywhere on the Taskbar, choose Toolbars, and check Language bar.) A vastly more efficient way to do the same is to use shortcuts: to assign each keyboard a combination of keystrokes, go to Settings » Control Panel » Regional and Language Options » Languages » Details » Key Settings (see the screen capture). I also suggest you print the layout and the list of dead keys, which you can download from the menu on the right. And if everything went fine, or not, then please leave a comment (specifying your configuration)—it might be of help to others.

Latine 1.2

To download: kbd-la12.zip (0.4 MB), la12-layout.pdf, la12-deadkeys.pdf

The first layout (top left on the PDF file) corresponds to the standard US keyboard, the sole peculiarity being the so-called dead key on ` (i.e. the grave accent): press and release it, then press a vowel such as U, and your keyboard will output the corresponding accented character, viz., in this case, ù. Such mappings will be abbreviated as following:

` U —> ù

The list of all dead keys indicates which vowels can be accented thus.

To access the first shift state (bottom left on the PDF), press Shift. This layout has two dead keys, viz. Shift+` (i.e. ~) and Shift+6 (i.e. ^). Thus

Shift+` O —> õ
Shift+6 E —> ê

and so forth.

The second shift state (top right on the PDF) can be accessed by pressing Ctrl+Alt. It is not very populated since I use this combination of keystrokes for my styles in Word and InDesign. The dead key on / will result in an acute accent: thus

Ctrl+Alt+/ E —> é

Further, , obtained by Ctrl+Alt+7, abbreviates or, just as , obtained by Shift+Ctrl+Alt+7, abbreviates and. Ctrl+Alt+- yields what is called a soft hyphen. Internet Explorer, Opera, and Lynx treat soft hyphens as discretionary, i.e. they do not display them as a rule but may split a word at a soft hyphen (and then append a hyphen at the end of a line). This is the intended behavior according to HTML 4 and XHTML specifications. Netscape, Mozilla, and Firefox still ignore soft hyphens.

The third and last shift state (bottom right on the PDF) is accessed by means of the combination Shift+Ctrl+Alt. The deadkey on ; results in a trema: thus

Shift+Ctrl+Alt+; I —> ï

Further, Shift+Ctrl+Alt+2 denotes the character used to speak of degrees, as in 4 ºC. Contrast this with Ctrl+Alt+6, the character used to abbreviate masculine ordinals, as in , which might be used to describe, say, a Shakespearean Quarto. Shift+Ctrl+Alt+6 is the latter’s feminine counterpart, as in la 1ª vez. (The degree and masculine ordinal differ not only in semantics but also in shape: º °.)

In most setups, MS Word and other word processing programs replace straight quotes with curly ones, that is, ' and " are automatically converted into ‘ and ’, or “ and ” (mentioned here without quotes…). Not always, though, is the conversion appropriate: it is not after numerals, for instance, or when writing an email in plain text. To obtain a straight quote, press first ' and then Ctrl+Z, which will undo the conversion.

Finally, spaces. Clicking the spacebar (henceforth: SP) yields the ordinary space character, that is,   (U+0020); and so does Shift+SP. Clicking Ctrl+SP yields a hair space (U+200a), Ctrl+Alt+SP, an en-space (U+2002), and Shift+Ctrl+Alt+SP, an em-space (U+2003). Shift+Ctrl+SP is assigned a no-break space (U+00a0). Among the fonts that include all five characters are Segoe UI (which I recommend as a screen font), Arial Unicode MS, Palatino Linotype, and Lucida Sans Unicode. If you type Alt+Χ after a certain character, MS Word rather usefully will display the corresponding Unicode value; contrariwise, if you type Αlt+Χ after a certain Unicode value, it displays the corresponding character.

Graece 1.5

To download: kbd-gr15.zip (0.5 MB), gr15-layout.pdf, gr15-deadkeys.pdf

The Greek letters generally correspond to the shape of the (Latin) letters pictured on the keyboard. Thus Graece assigns the key X not to the Greek sound [ks], which would correspond to the letter Ξ, but rather to the Greek letter Χ, which originally corresponded to the sound [kh] although nowadays it is often pronounced as in Modern Greek, that is, as a palatal [ç ] or velar fricative [x] (i.e. as in ich or ach).

Likewise, lunate sigma is assigned the key C: that is,

C —> c
Shift+C —> C

(Since many fonts still lack lunate sigmas, the keys, for the time being, are mapped on the isoform Cyrillic characters, viz. U+0441 and U+0421.) Medial and final sigmas, on the other hand, are assigned to S:

S —> σ
Shift+S —> Σ
Shift+Ctrl+Alt+S —> ς

The distinction between final and medial sigmas dates from the thirteenth century, so that apart from nostalgic considerations there really is no reason to uphold it if one edits texts written more than a millenium earlier. (As far as I know, apart from Graece no other Greek keyboard offers one the possibility to type lunate sigmas directly.)

Because of the many diacritics used to represent Ancient Greek, Graece has many more dead keys than Latine. In the unshifted state there are seven dead keys, viz.

~ := Circumflex (e.g. ᾶ)
- := Short (e.g. ᾰ)
= := Smooth & circumflex (e.g. ἆ)
[ := Smooth & acute (e.g. ἄ)
] := Smooth & grave (e.g. ἂ)
J := Smooth breathing (e.g. ἀ)
V := Acute accent (e.g. ά)

(For the full list, see Graece’s Dead Keys.)

A dead key followed by a period in general yields the accent without any supporting letter: e.g.

[ . —> ῎

And a dead key followed by a space generally yields the corresponding character in Latine: e.g.

[ Space —> [

There are a few exceptions, though: for instance, for reasons unknown combinations of accents with iota subscriptum as in ᾄ have not, or not yet, been allocated a special position. (See the Unicode character code tables for Greek and Extended Greek.)

Note the following:

J Space —> ξ
Shift+J Space —> Ξ
V Space —> ϝ
Shift+V Space —> Ϝ

The key ' is mapped to the apostrophe—or rather: since in Greek (and only in Greek) the apostrophe is followed by a space, the key ' is mapped to two entities, viz. an apostrophe followed by a non-breaking space.

The first shift state includes all capitals, some punctuation, and a few extra signs. It has six dead keys, viz.

Shift+- := Long (e.g. ᾱ)
Shift+= := Rough & circumflex (e.g. ἇ)
Shift+[ := Rough & acute (e.g. ἅ)
Shift+] := Rough & grave (e.g. ἃ)
Shift+J := Rough breathing (e.g. ἁ)
Shift+V := Grave accent (e.g. ὰ)

As in the base form, dead keys followed by a period yield the accent without any supporting letter:

Shift+[ . —> ῞

and dead keys followed by a space yield the corresponding character in Latine: e.g.

Shift+[ Space —> {

The second shift state, accessed by Ctrl+Alt, contains seven dead keys, viz.

Ctrl+Alt+= := Smooth & circumflex & iota (e.g. ᾆ)
Ctrl+Alt+[ := Smooth & acute & iota (e.g. ᾄ)
Ctrl+Alt+] := Smooth & grave & iota (e.g. ᾂ)
Ctrl+Alt+J := Smooth & iota (e.g. ᾀ)
Ctrl+Alt+C := Sigma periestigmenon and sim. (e.g. c)
Ctrl+Alt+V := Acute & iota (e.g. ᾴ)
Ctrl+Alt+. := Iota subscriptum (e.g. ᾳ)

For the details, see again Graece’s Dead Keys. Note in particular the following:

Ctrl+Alt+/ Space —>  ̣  (i.e. dot below)
Ctrl+Alt+V Space —>  ϙ  (i.e. koppa)
Ctrl+Alt+J Space —>  ϡ  (i.e. sampi)
Ctrl+Alt+V . —>  ҆   (i.e. rough breathing in the form of a horizontal T)

The third shift state, accessed via Shift+Ctrl+Alt, contains eight dead keys, viz.

Shift+Ctrl+Alt+` := Circumflex & iota (e.g. ᾷ)
Shift+Ctrl+Alt+= := Rough & circumflex & iota (e.g. ᾇ)
Shift+Ctrl+Alt+[ := Rough & acute & iota (e.g. ᾅ)
Shift+Ctrl+Alt+] := Rough & grave & iota (e.g. ᾃ)
Shift+Ctrl+Alt+J := Rough & iota (e.g. ᾁ)
Shift+Ctrl+Alt+; := Diaeresis (e.g. ϊ)
Shift+Ctrl+Alt+V := Grave & iota (e.g. ᾲ)

Spaces, hyphens, and sim. are as in Latine.