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Devanagari Typing Tutorial

1 Unicode

Unicode is a standard character and text encoding for many different scripts. Using Unicode, it is possible to represent any character in any language and type it in a computer. At least it is the goal of the Unicode consortium to support all existing scripts. The Devanagari script is supported by Unicode, and so it can be used in software that is Unicode-compliant. Windows 2000 and XP use Unicode, as do Linux and the Java programming language. This manual describes Devanagari text input under Windows XP and Linux resp. Unix with KDE.

Some links about Unicode:

2 Installation under Windows

Before you can type Devanagari on Windows XP, you need to install it. Therefore, open the Control Panel and go to the region and language options.

Language options in the Control Panel (Windows)

Here, you must tick the box for "install fonts for languages with complex scripts". Once you have done that, you are prompted to restart windows. Next, re-open that window and click on "Details". The window for text services and input languages opens.

Input languages settings (Windows)

Click on "Add" and select "Hindi" from the input schema list.

Select input schema (Windows)

Then the Hindi keyboard symbol appears in the list of input schemata.

Input language settings with Hindi (Windows)

Now you have the input schema tray icon in the bottom-right corner of the taskbar, which allows you to switch to Hindi input. The keyboard layout can be changed in the taskbar by clicking on that icon. Select "Hindi" there.

Input schema selection (Windows)

The taskbar shows a HI symbol, and you are ready to type in Devanagari.

3 Installation under KDE (Linux/Unix)

Typing Devanagari is supported by the KDE desktop under Linux and Unix derivates. I have tested it with Knoppix (Version 5.0.1). Along with KDE, you need to install the localization package for India; this is automatically available in Knoppix. You need to install the keyboard layout for Devanagari in the KDE Control Center. As shown in the picture below, go to the keyboard layout, select "India", click "Add", and set the layout variant "deva":

Keyboard settings in the KDE Control Center (Linux)

Now click "Apply", and you can select the keyboard layout in the KDE taskbar. Right-click on the flag icon and select "India (deva)".

Keybaoard layout selection (Linux)

The taskbar now shows an "in" symbol, and you are ready to type in Devanagari.

4 Keyboard Layout

The Devanagari keyboard layout looks as follows:

Devanagari keyboard layout

In this picture, the bottom left character appears when you press the key, the top left one appears when you press Shift and the key, the bottom right one appears when you press AltGr and the key, and the top right one appears when you press AltGr + Shift and the key. For example, to get ॐ, you have to press AltGr + Shift + x.
The following sections explain how you can type Devanagari texts using this keyboard layout. You can try it out by typing text in a text editor like WordPad (Windows) or KWrite (Linux).

5 Basic Typing

5.1 Vowels and consonants

Independent vowels and consonants are written as they come:

Dependent vowels are typed after their consonant:

5.2 Ligatures

In order to type ligatures, the viram ् (on key d) is written between two consonants. As you are typing, consonant 1 + viram + consonant 2 are automatically joined to a ligature.

Note that there is an abbreviation for ्र and र् on the keys Shift + 3 and Shift + 4, respectively. That means, you can type ligatures that involve र faster. So, you can type the last example also as उ, र्, द, ू = उर्दू (keys Shift + g, Shift + 3, o, t). The ligatures ज्ञ, त्र, क्ष, and श्र can be typed directly with Shift + 5, Shift + 6, Shift + 7, and Shift + 8, respectively.

6 Special Characters

6.1 Dotted characters

In Hindi there are dotted characters ग़, क़, ख़, ज़, ड़, ढ़, and फ़. You can type them as the undotted glyph plus the dot ़ (on the plus key next to the enter key).

Note that in the last example the dot ़ is typed before the viram ्.

6.2 Candrabindu, Anusvār

You can type candrabindu ँ and anusvār ं with Shift + x and x, respectively:

The last two examples show that the candrabindu is typed after the vowel. For typing only candra, you can use the ॉ character:

6.3 Visarga

You can type a visarga with the ? key.