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Home > Tamil Digital Renaissance > Tamilnet'97 > Standardization of Tamil Keyboard Layouts > Tamil Fonts, Keyboards & Software


Standardization of Tamil Keyboard Layouts:
Recommendations of Tamil Nadu Standardization Committee

Tamil computer is a long felt dream of the Tamil Society. Many attempts were made to achieve this. But those attempts are limited due to lack of standards. To realize the Tamil Computer, Tamil Nadu Government constituted an expert committee, which is governed by Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education, Chennai. A separate history of the development of Tamil computers will be published later by the committee.

The Committee addressed various issues namely Tamil Character Set, Orthography, Keyboard layouts and Coding Scheme, and planned to provide standard solution.

As a first step, the Committee has decided to keep the existing Tamil Character Set, and Orthography as the standard one. Suggestions have also been made to bring back the "Before Periyar modification letters," like y s etc, which will be very useful in character recognization applications and scanning-in older Tamil books.

As a next step the Committee has taken up the standardization of Tamil keyboard layouts, that is the key issue. It has collected more than fifteen keyboard layouts which are in use, and catagorized them as,

1. Phonetic

2. Typewriter-like

3. Transliterate ( Romanized ).

Then, those layouts were analyzed and ranked for different key characteristics, like minimal key strokes, fingers' usage, etc. The Phonetic layouts took the first position, and the Typewriter-like layouts and Transliterate layouts are placed in second and third position respectively.

Based on the above excercise, the Committee has standardized Keyboard Layouts in each of the above category as given below.

Tamil Nadu Government's Phonetic Layout :-

jkpHf murp;d; xypad; tpirg;gyif :-

Since this layout is an efficient one, it has to be adopted for future Tamil computer usages. The layout comprises of the twelve vowels, the first eighteen vowel-consonants (mfuBkwpa bka;) and the kirandam letters.

phonetic.jpg (19232 bytes)

The following example shows the key combination to generate the consonants and vowel-consonants.

f + ; = f;

f + M = fh

f + n = fp

f + N = fP

f + c = F

f + C = T

f + v = bf

f + V = Bf

f + I = if

f + x = bfh

f + X = Bfh

f + xs = bfs

The Committee also decided to reserve one function key for inputting old style letters and another for speed-typing (The layout that has vowels and consonants only ). These function keys should not clash with standard DTP functions.

Tamil Nadu Government's Typewriter layout :-

jkpHf murpd; jl;lr;R tpirg;gyif :-

Considering the existance of large number of typewriter trained personnel, the typewriter layout is selected and is shown below.

typewriter.jpg (26126 bytes)

The following example shows the key combination to generate the consonants and vowel-consonants.

f + ; = f;

f + h = fh

f + p = fp

f + P = fP

F = F

T = T

b + f = bf

B + f = Bf

i + f = if

b + f + h = bfh

B + f + h = Bfh

b + f + s = bfs

Tamil Nadu Government's Transliterate layout :-

jkpHf murpd; xypkhw;wp tpirg;gyif :-

For the convenience of users who are familiar with English keyboard, a standardized transliterate layout is given below. This layout is not suitable for voluminous data input.

trans.jpg (21691 bytes)

The following example shows the key combination to generate the vowel-consonants.

f; + m = f

f; + M = fh

f; + n = fp

f; + N = fP

f; + c = F

f; + C = T

f; + v = bf

f; + V = Bf

f; + I = if

f; + x = bfh

f; + X = Bfh

f; + xs = bfs

The committee also noticed the method used by various research organisations at home and abroad for transliteration of Tamil using only lowercase English alphabets with additional diacritical marks. This has to be studied with all its implications.

Comments on these keyboard layouts may be sent to any one of the following email addresses before 31st July, 1997.


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