Tongan Keyboard

Making Tongan Keyboard Entry easier

Been typing away at that Tongan Language thesis??
How about trying to make those letters home look more grammatically correct??
Does your pinky finger cramp up from typing all those apostrophes/fakau’a??

M�l� e ng�ue mo e ‘eve‘eva holo he Internet. Neongo ‘a e si’i ange ‘o e ngaahi mata’itohi faka-Tonga� mei he mata’i tohi faka-Pilitania pe faka-‘Amelika�, ka ‘i he fakah� ‘o e ngaahi faka’ilonga toloi� pe fakamamaf� ‘oku faingata‘a ange ‘a hono ng�ue‘aki ‘o e kipooti komipiuta ki he taipe’i ‘o e ‘u fetu’utaki faka-Tonga�.




One step accented letters. The Word for Windows macro TonganKeyboard (tested on Word 6.0, Word 95, Word 97, Word 2000) converts keyboard letters not used in Tongan correspondence into accented letters.

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  • Typing English is infinitely easier than typing Tongan, even for those whose Tongan is infinitely better than their English.

    It seems strange in today’s world of computing that Tongan Language typing is still performed on "US" Keyboards. By staying with the "old way of doing things" Tongan Language typing is extremely cumbersome, requiring fancy finger dancing to type the accents in Tongan letters like �, �, �, �, � .

    All very strange since there are plenty of keys on the keyboard that are untouched by the Tongan Language.

    Examples: q w r y d j z x c

    Where we Are

    Figure: Standard US Keyboard Layout

    Figure: Standard US Keyboard Layout

    The English/US language uses a 26 letter alphabet A ~ Z. The Tongan Language uses a 16 letter alphabet A, E, F, H, I, etc. These sixteen letters are complemented by 5 accented letters, �, �, etc. Combined, the Tongan lettering uses 16 + 5 = 21 letters, yet we only use 16 letters on the typewriter.

    To use of a typewriter for Tongan Language communications requires a lot of hand travel to the platinum to move the paper up and down for making accented letters. Most people gave up and pen the accents in after the typing.

    Physically changing the keys on the typewriter is unthinkable because (a) most people using a typewriter correspond in English and Tongan, (b) it requires pulling apart the typewriter and putting in "print hammers" which do not exist.

    What Becomes What?

    After you run the macro, the keyboard layout inside Microsoft Word will be changed to simplify entering Tongan accented characters. When you type keyboard letters shown in the above US Keyboard Layout, Microsoft Word will get the "new" letters shown in the lower figure (Tongan Keyboard Layout). Most keys remain the same, the changes are highlighted below.

    Figure: Tongan Keyboard Layout

    The accented vowels amacron, imacron, umacron, omacron, and emacron (�, �, �, �, �) are now directly accessible with a single keystroke. Where an accented a (amacron) is needed you hit the "q" on the keyboard and Microsoft Word will place an amacron on the screen.

    After very little practise typing with Tongan accents will flow as English typing.

    The fakamamafa and fakau'a.

    The fakamamafa and fakau'a have additional support with the Tongan Keyboard layout. The J Key is replaced with the ' (fakau'a) is to relieve keyboard pains as this is a frequently used character in Tongan language. The J key is used since it is not commonly used and is also on an index finger for constant typing. The fakamamafa replaces the "B" key.

    Notes:

    I wrote this macro to put the accented letters/characters on top of those letters not normally used in Tongan, and it works well for my needs. If you decide to try it, please keep me informed whether it is useful and whether there are any changes you would like me to include.

    The macron (toloi) is not part of the standard character sets of screen fonts. In the above text examples I have used the dierisis characters (�, �, �, �, �) which use two dots instead of the straight bar (macron.)