Friday, 23 September 2016

Innovation: A Specially Designed Keyboard Allows Yorùbá and Igbo Speakers to Type Their Languages

Image result for photos of yoruba language keyboard
Typing Nigerian languages, such as Yorùbá and Igbo, is usually a challenge as most keyboards are not equipped for the tonality that characterizes them. These technical barriers have been a source of concern for many Nigerians who would wish to type their local languages properly.

However, this might no longer be an issue thanks to YorubaName.com, which has developed a Yorùbá and Igbo keyboard. YorubaName.com is a multimedia dictionary of Yorùbá names, which seeks to preserve and document all Yorùbá names in a multimedia format. It is part of a long-term project to document all types of African cultural experiences on the internet as a way of ensuring the survival of African identities in their various expressions.

YorubaName.com was founded by Kola Tubosun, whose bachelor of arts’ thesis formed the backbone of the project. He and his team of linguists and techies, including Global Voices author and translator Laila Le Guen, are behind the keyboard.

Laila has been a volunteer with the YorubaName project since March 2015, and she recently completed a three-year diploma in Yorùbá studies offered at Inalco, Paris, that included a rigorous language course alongside specialised classes in linguistics, history, literature and anthropology. She explained in an interview the issue that the keyboard solves:
With this keyboard, we are addressing technical barriers to the use of Yorùbá and Igbo online. The new keyboard is an updated version of a keyboard layout we released last year to fill a gap in technological solutions to type Yorùbá in standard orthography. Yorùbá makes use of grave accent, acute accent and occasionally macron (n̄) to mark tone, and some characters include subdots (ẹ ọ ṣ). Some keyboard layouts existed on Windows and I had created one for Mac for my personal use since none existed at the time but all these efforts were scattered and inconsistent. The idea behind the YorubaName keyboard layout was to propose a user-friendly package for Mac and Windows and also to take advantage of our existing platform to promote its use.

Read more on globalvoices,org

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