I’ve got a Mac and one of my first questions was: How can I write in Chuvash on my Mac, obviously :) In this post I am going to tell how I created Chuvash Keyboard Layout. The solution and installation instructions are on Github: Chuvash Keyboard Layout for Mac
What the heck is Chuvash?
For those who don’t know yet: Chuvash are people who live in Chuvash Republic in Russian Federation, and abroad, as me. We are 1.5 million. Chuvash is also a language, an official language of the Republic, a minority language, that is completely different from the second official language Russian. Chuvash uses Cyrillic letters, all 33 Russian letters plus 4 additional letters: A breve (Ӑ), E breve (Ӗ), C cedilla (Ҫ) and U with double acute (Ӳ).
There is no official Chuvash keyboard layout. What we have is a de facto standard - a very humble layout. It is “humble” because it does not dare to put Chuvash letters on the buttons directly, they are accessible through modifiers: AltGr in Windows and Linux, Option on a Mac. To get A breve you press AltGr and A in the same time. That is not a good input method for Chuvash where additional letters with diacritics (breve, double acute and cedilla) are more common than some Russian letters. In fact, many Russian letters are just part of the Chuvash alphabet because the loan words are just imported in the original spelling. The reason why this humble keyboard layout was introduced and became a de facto standard was a will to provide a fully functional Russian keyboard layout with a bonus - being able to write in Chuvash, although a hard way. It is hard to write, but it is very simple to have (you don’t need to switch input sources), it is easy to explain: want a diacritic, just press AltGr and the corresponding plain letter. I created the same layout for Mac, too. In future a better, more Chuvash, keyboard layout must be designed and agreed upon.
Keyboard Layouts on Mac
AFAIK, there is no keyboard layout (“input source”) for any minority language in Russia. On the other hand the process of creating and installing a custom keyboard layout is easiest on a Mac. I followed the steps described on Salvatore Testa’s blog: I installed Ukulele and created a new keyboard layout based on Russian PC. That bundle that is saved from Ukulele needs to be copied to ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts/ folder. Then (presumably after a computer restart), Chuvash can be added as an input source. Custom keyboard layouts are just files (bundles) in a user’s home folder. No need for Administrator rights (as in Windows for installing a custom keyboard layout as an exe file), no sudo access to X11 folder (as in Linux). What I would like to wish is the presence of Chuvash and other minority languages' keyboard layouts directly Out-of-the-Box on Mac OS, iOS, Android and Windows. Linux is the only OS family that natively supports Chuvash keyboard layout.
Other minority languages
I am just curious: what languages have already had custom keyboard layouts ready for install. I found those ones:
Some words in Chuvash and Russian
I want this text to be searchable and findable, so here come summary of this blog post in Chuvash and Russian.
Макинтош валли чӑваш сарӑмӗ
Чӑваш сарӑмӗ Линукс, Виндовс, татат Андроид оператив системисенче пуррине халӑх пӗлет-ҫкӗ. Паян эпӗ Маккинтош (Mac OS) валли чӑваш сарӑмне турӑм. Вӑл виндовсри тата линуксри пекех, мӑйракаллисене ҫырас тесен Option (Alt) пускӑчне пусса мӑйракасӑррине пӗрле пусмалла. Option + А - Ӑ пулать. Ку ҫӗнни мар. Сарӑмӗ тата мӗнле лартмалли ку вырӑнта тупӑнать (хальлӗх акӑлчанла, анчах вӗҫ ӑнлантарнине ӳкерчӗклентертӗм).
Чувашская раскладка на Макинтош
Теперь есть чувашская раскладка для Mac OS, она такая же как и на Виндовс и Линукс. Чтобы написать Ӑ нужно нажать на Option (Alt) и на букву А. Раскладку и инструкцию по установке можно найти на этой странице (инструкция на английском пока, но все шаги проиллюстрированы картинками).
Working with Ukulele
I won’t go into details about how to work with Ukulele. But I was very surprised how easy it was to update the keyboard layout. And more surprised I became when I saw that Chuvash was present in the list of available languages. Just to compare, Chuvash exists as a language in many systems in the Open Source world and close to it: Linux, Firefox, Wikipedia… For Microsoft Chuvash does not exist. No LCID, no locale, no way of referencing cv and cv-RU. There is one exception - Skype, but it was added before Skype was bought by Microsoft. I really hope it can be changed in future. The last step was to rename to Chuvash - PC and generate an ID within the range for Cyrillic keyboards.
Microsoft again (update 2015-12-14)
After I installed my Chuvash keyboard layout and I was glad, suddenly I could not open Word, it just crashed. I didn’t realize that it was due my custom keyboard layout. How painful, that Microsoft products crash on a custom keyboard layout. Sigh.
Chuvash Latin Script (update 2016-02-06)
I found that ABC Extended Keyboard Layout on Mac lets me write in Chuvash Latin Script using following dead keys:
- Option b = Breve (ă, ĕ and maybe ĭ)
- Option u = Diaeresis (ü)
- Option c = Cedilla (ş)
- Option v = Caron (š)
Other turkic languages
- ı: Option+w and then i
- ə: Shift+Option+: and then a