Cherokee Unicode Keyboard Layout

Just a few years ago, the Cherokee Nation released their official font for inputing the Cherokee language on a typical American keyboard. Unfortunately, if the Official Cherokee Font was not installed, the characters would not show up as Cherokee, but instead a mix of the letters, numbers, and symbols typically input with an American QWERTY keyboard. Since that time, however, the characters of the Cherokee syllabary have been encoded into Unicode.

Ĝøst u fyü yjrz ugo, ðu Ĉerukj Nejšń rjljst ðir ufišĺ fånt for inpøtiŋ ðu Ĉerukj laŋgweĝ ån u tipicĺ Umericń kjbord. Unforĉunetlj, if ðu Ufišĺ Ĉerukj Fånt wuz nåt inståld, ðu karectŕz wød nåt šo up az Ĉerukj, but insted u mics uv ðu letŕz, numbŕz, and simbĺz tipiclj inpøt wiþ un Umericń QWERTY kjbord. Sinц ðat tåjm, haoevŕ, ðu karectŕz uv ðu Ĉerukj silubarj hav bin encoded intü Yünicod.

At some point in time, I began wondering how/if Cherokee was entered onto computers. In Windows, I searched through the keyboard layouts in Regional Settings; Fedora Core 2 did not have anything that I could find. I searched the internet, and all I found was the Official Cherokee Font as well as some others that just displayed ASCII characters as Cherokee.

At sum pojnt in tåjm, Åj bjgan wundŕiŋ hao/if Ĉerukj wuz intŕd ontü cumpyütŕz. In Windoz, Åj surĉd þrü ðu kjbord lejaots in Rjĝunĺ Setiŋz; Fedoru Kor 2 did nåt hav injþiŋ ðat Åj cød fåjnd. Åj surĉd ðu intŕnet, and åll Åj faond wuz ðu Ufišĺ Ĉerukj Fånt az wel az sum uðers ðat ĝøst displejd ASCII karectŕz az Ĉerukj.

One Saturday, I set out to create a keyboard layout for Cherokee using the Unicode character set.

Wun Satŕdej, Åj set aot tü crjejt u kjbord lejaot for Ĉerukj yüziŋ ðu Yünicod karectŕ set.


Image 1 shows the keyboard without the Shift key depressed. The blue keys in the spaces for 1, 2, and 3 enter more than one character at a time. The key for 1 enters the Cherokee characters for o-si-yo, the 2 key enters the characters for do-hi-tsu, and the 3 key enters the characters for wa-do. Imiĝ 1 šoz ðu kjbord wiþaot ðu Šift kj duprest. Ðu blü kjz in ðu spejsź for 1, 2, and 3 intŕ mor ðan wun karectŕ at u tåjm. Ðu kj for 1 intŕz ðu Ĉerukj karectŕz for o-si-yo, ðu 2 kj intŕz ðu karectŕz for do-hi-tsu, and ð 3 kj intŕz ðu karectŕz for wa-do.


Image 1: No Shift


Image 2 shows the keyboard with the shift key depressed, or Caps Lock on. Imiĝ 2 šoz ðu kjbord wiþ ðu šift kj duprest, or Kaps Låc ån.


Image 2: Shift Depressed


The only appreciable difference between the layout of this keyboard and the Cherokee Font is that I have encoded the syllable nah in the upper left-hand corner (no shift). As far as I know, the syllable nah was not encoded into the Official Cherokee Font. The Official Cherokee Font did have a symbol encoded into that same location, but I am ignorant as to its function. Ðu onlj åprjšjubĺ difrinц bjtwjn ðu lejaot uv ðis kjbord and ðu Ĉerukj Fånt iz ðat Åj hav inkoded ðu silubĺ nah in ðu upŕ left-hand kornŕ (no šift). Az får az Åj no, ðu silubĺ nah wuz nåt inkoded intü ðu Ufišĺ Ĉerukj Fånt. Ðu Ufišĺ Ĉerukj Fånt did hav u simbĺ inkoded intü ðat sejm lokejšń, but Åj am ignorint az tü its fuŋcšń.

The fact that this keyboard layout uses the Unicode Cherokee character set means that in order to properly display the characters typed with it, you will need to have a font which includes the Unicode Cherokee set. I presently know of two fonts which definitely support it: Aboriginal Serif and Aboriginal Sans. I personally recommend Aboriginal Serif. It is what I used for the keyboard images, and I think it is the better-looking of the two. Both fonts can be downloaded for free from languagegeek.com. Here is a direct link to a zip file containing Aboriginal Serif: http://www.languagegeek.com/font/abserif.zip

Ðu fact ðat ðis kjbord lejaot yüzez ðu Yünicod Ĉerukj karectŕ set mjnz ðat in ordŕ tü pråpŕlj displej ðu karectŕz tåjpt wiþ it, yü wil njd tü hav u fånt wiĉ inclüdz ðu Yünicod Ĉerukj set. Åj prezńtlj no uv tü fånts wiĉ definitlj suport it: Aboriginal Serif and Aboriginal Sans. Åj pursunulj rekumend Aboriginal Serif. It iz wat Åj yüzd for ðu kjbord imuĝiz, and Åj þiŋc it iz ðu betŕ-løkiŋ uv ðu tü. Boþ fånts kan bj daonloded for frj frum languagegeek.com. Hjr iz u durect liŋc tü u zip fåjl cuntejniŋ Aboriginal Serif: http://www.languagegeek.com/font/abserif.zip

Download the Cherokee Keyboard Layout installer as a self-extracting zip-file here.
Save the file to your desktop, and double-click it when it has finished downloading. After the files are extracted, double-click on the file called cherokee.msi

Daonlod ðu Ĉerukj Kjbord Lejaot instålŕ az a self-ecstractiŋ zip-fåjl hjr.
Sejv ðu fåjl tü yor desctåp, and dubĺ-clic it win it haz finišd daonlodiŋ. Aftŕ ðu fåjlz år ecstracted, dubĺ-clic ån ðu fåjl cåld cherokee.msi