Sunday, January 14, 2007

Typing Navajo

Navajo uses the Latin letters of English plus a number of extras that make it not that easy to render in ordinary print: Łł Ńń Áá Éé Íí Óó Ąą Ęę Įį Ǫǫ Ą́ą́ Ę́ę́ Į́į́ Ǫ́ǫ́. The last four do not have any precomposed version in Unicode, which means some apps will probably not place the two required diacritics quite correctly. In addition, Navajo makes heavy use of the glottal stop character, ʼ , which should probably best be represented by the modifier letter apostrophe (U+02BC). Some people have used the ascii apostrophe (U+0027) or the right single quote (U+2019) instead, but these are punctuation marks rather than real letters and it is better to avoid them.

Typing Navajo can be done using the US Extended keyboard layout in OS X. The glottal stop ʼ is made via Option + i, then space.

Navajo characters (with the addition of ṉ) can also be used for the closely related language Western Apache.

For an example of Navajo text, see this copy of a 1956 school reader.

For an example of Navajo on the Web, see here.

For a specialized keyboard, try Languagegeek's.

5 comments:

eleanornevins said...

I went to your iDisk to download a Navajo keyboard layout. From the page I could have uploaded a file--but there was no obvious way to download any of yours. I'm a major neophyte, so I'm sure it's something obvious I didn't see. Any help?

Thanks,
Eleanor

Tom Gewecke said...

You click on the downward pointing arrow at the far right of the line with the keyboard name, after the file size.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I am including a book excerpt in an upcoming issue of magazine that I edit. This book excerpt is about Navajo astronomy and uses lots of Navajo words. I really needed this info on how to re-create all those special characters and markings!

Nate said...

Hi Tom, This is great info, especially since I just started supporting a 10.6 Mac user who is using the Navajo font sets. Since I can't seem to find a Navajo-specific physical keyboard available for the Mac, would it be possible to get copies of your NavajoA and A2 key layout files that used to be on your .Mac homepage? I think .Mac and iDisk ground to a halt at the end of June, and I haven't found an alternate path to try those key layouts. Thanks so much for your amazing work and all your time!

Tom Gewecke said...

Nate -- email me and I will send you the layouts. tom at bluesky dot org