How to Use Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard in Windows Vista

By Tashi Tsering

Published: May 10, 2007

Abstract: This white paper provides users information about Microsoft Tibetan keyboard for Windows Vista and the guide about how to use the keyboard to type Tibetan in Windows Vista. It's from the original designer of the keyboard.

Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Chinese National Standard of Tibetan Keyboard Layout
  3. Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard of Windows Vista
  4. How to Type Tibetan in Windows Vista by Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard
  5. Download Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard Layout
  6. Design Your Own Keyboard: Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator
  7. Referenc

Introduction

Microsoft Windows Vista supports four Chinese minority languages include Tibetan, Mongolian, Uyghur and Yi languages. Tibetan keyboard in Windows Vista was designed based on the Chinese National Standard of Tibetan Keyboard Layout. Its keyboard layout is the identical one of the national standard.

There are five keyboards for Tibetan in the Chinese National Standard of Tibetan Keyboard Layout.  In Microsoft Tibetan keyboard, these five keyboards are assigned to the following five keyboards: the regular keyboard, keyboard with SHIFT key, keyboard with key combination of Alt+Ctrl+Shift, and two virtual keyboards activated by two dead keys: 'm' and 'M' (capital m).

Microsoft Tibetan keyboard is not an IME keyboard. It's designed by using Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator under the basic keyboard design principle: one key for one character. Users can easily modify the layout of MS Tibetan keyboard to their own favorite one by using Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator.

Chinese National Standard of Tibetan Keyboard Layout

In 2005, led by Tibet University at Lhasa, the Chinese National Standard of Tibetan Keyboard Layout was designed by the national research group consists of experts from all over of China under the supervision of CESI. The standard includes five keyboards for assigning the total 193 Unicode Tibetan characters on them. Layouts of many legacy Tibetan keyboards, which are popular in China, such as Beida Founder and Huguang Tibetan keyboards were considered during the project work, together with the widely known Wylie keyboard. Frequency data of Tibetan characters was also counted when the characters were assigned onto the keyboard layouts. Some tradeoffs are there during the design of the layouts.

The basic principle for designing the national standard of Tibetan keyboard layout is:

  1. To assign those most frequently used non-combining characters onto the first keyboard, others on the secondary ones;
  2. To put each Tibetan consonant letter and their variants onto the same key from different keyboards. This will be helpful for users to remember key locations of Tibetan characters;
  3. To assign Tibetan letters on same keyboard mostly based on phonetic association between Wylie letter of each Tibetan letter and letter of the key where the Tibetan letter is assigned;
  4. To refer to other legacy Tibetan keyboards when Tibetan characters are assigned onto keys;

There are 193 Unicode Tibetan characters in the Unicode character set. On each keyboard, there are 47 keys that Tibetan characters can be assigned onto them. (Space bar is not included.) Therefore, at least five keyboards are required in the Chinese National Standard of Tibetan Keyboard Layouts for assigning all the Tibetan Unicode characters. In the standard, the first keyboard is called the main keyboard, other four keyboards are called secondary keyboards. By following the basic design principle of keyboard layout described above, Tibetan keyboard layout of Chinese national standard is designed as following:

On the first Tibetan keyboard, i.e. the main keyboard, the following Tibetan characters are assigned onto its 47 keys:

  1. 30 Tibetan consonant letters
  2. 4 vowel signs
  3. Tibetan delimiter Tsheg
  4. Tibetan punctuation Shad
  5. 10 Tibetan digits
  6. The "Link" character. There is a character called LINK character in ISO 10646 for Tibetan. It said that it is used in control. And no further rule is defined for this character. Users are allowed to use it in any way they need, including for implementing this keyboard layout standard.

On the second Tibetan keyboard, the following Tibetan characters are assigned onto its keys:

  1. 30 subjoined letters of 30 Tibetan consonant letters. Among 30 Tibetan consonant letters, Tibetan letter ཝ ཡ and ར each has two different subjoined letters. They are ྭ and ྺ ,  ྱ and ྻ , and  ྲ and ྼ .  Among these 6 subjoined letters, ྭ ,  ྱ and ྲ are regular subjoined letters of these three consonant letters. Others are their alternative subjoined letters that are specially used for Sanskrit transliteration in Tibetan. Three regular subjoined letters are assigned onto second keyboard. Three alternative subjoined letters except ྺ are assigned onto third keyboard. ྺ is still assigned onto second keyboard because there is a key left for it.
  2. The alternative subjoined letter of consonant letter ཝ, which is ྺ
  3. 3 Sanskrit transliteration vowel signs:  ཻ  ྀྀ  ཽ
  4. 5 Tibetan punctuations:  ༄   ༅  ༎   ༑   ༈
  5. 8 marks and signs: ཾ  ྃ   ༷  ༵  ཿ   ༔   ྄   ྅  

On the third Tibetan keyboard, the following Tibetan characters are assigned onto its keys:

  1. Tibetan vowel sign a-chung:  ཱ
  2. 2 subjoined letters:  ྻ and ྼ
  3. 6 reserved consonants: ཊ  ཋ  ཌ  ཎ  ཥ  ཀྵ
  4. 10 minus half digits:  ༪ ༫ ༬ ༭ ༮ ༯ ༰ ༱ ༲ ༳
  5. 14 Tibetan astrological signs:  ༕  ༖ ༗ ༘ ༙ ༚ ༛ ༜ ༝ ༞ ༟ ࿏ ༿ ༾
  6. 5 head marks:  ༁  ༂  ༃  ༆  ༇
  7. 5 marks and signs:  ༴  ྇  ྆  ༸  ༹
  8. 4 punctuations:  ༺  ༻  ༼  ༽

On the fourth Tibetan keyboard, the following Tibetan characters are assigned onto its keys:

  1. 7 Sanskrit transliteration vowel signs:  ཱི ཱྀ ཱུ ྲྀ ཷ ླྀ ཹ
  2. 4 Sanskrit transliteration head letters:  ྊ ྋ  ྉ   ྈ 
  3. 4 Sanskrit transliteration consonant letters:  གྷ དྷ བྷ ཛྷ
  4. 6 subjoined letters of Sanskrit transliteration consonant letters:   ྚ ྛ ྜ  ྞ   ྵ ྐྵ
  5. 11 marks and signs:  ༉ ༊ ༏ ༐ ༒ ༓ ༔ ྂ  ྾ ྿ ༶
  6. Fixed form of Rago: ཪ
  7.  Tibetan syllable OM:  ༀ
  8. 4 Cantilation signs:  ࿀ ࿁ ࿂ ࿃
  9. 9 Tibetan symbols:  ࿄ ࿅  ࿆ ࿇ ࿈ ࿉ ࿊ ࿋ ࿌

On the fifth Tibetan keyboard, the following Tibetan characters are assigned onto its keys:

  1. 5 subjoined consonants:  ྒྷ ྜྷ ྡྷ ྦྷ ྫྷ
  2. 1 Sanskrit transliteration consonant letter:  ཌྷ

Some design notes for Chinese National Standard of Tibetan keyboard layout:

  1. Based on the frequency data of Tibetan characters, the most frequently used Tibetan regular characters such as Tibetan delimiter Tsheg, 4 Tibetan vowel signs, 30 Tibetan consonants, Tibetan punctuation Shad and 10 Tibetan digits are assigned onto the first keyboard. Other characters are assigned onto those secondary keyboards as they are rarely used in Tibetan, even though some of them such as Tibetan subjoined letter Ga, Yata and Rata have higher frequency data than some of non-combining characters such as Tibetan consonant letter Wa and Ha that are assigned onto first keyboard. The reason for this is:
  2. Based on the design principle of keyboard layout described above, each Tibetan consonant letter and its subjoined form, its variant and the subjoined form of the variant are supposed to be assigned onto the same key location of different keyboards. For example, Tibetan consonant letter NA, Tibetan subjoined letter NA, Tibetan letter NNA and its subjoined form Tibetan subjoined letter NNA are assigned onto same key location, i.e. key N of Tibetan main keyboard and three secondary Tibetan keyboards;
  3. On a same keyboard, by following Wylie transliteration system, most of Tibetan consonants and vowel signs are assigned onto same keys with Wylie transliteration letter of the Tibetan consonant or vowel sign. For example, Tibetan letter Sa is assigned onto key S; Tibetan vowel sign I, U, E and O are assigned onto key I, U, E and O, respectively. For those Tibetan letters that have more than one Latin letters in Wylie transliteration, they are assigned key locations based on their frequency data;
  4. Beside the main keyboard, there are four secondary Tibetan keyboards. Among these five keyboards, the first keyboard, i.e. the main keyboard has the highest priority of implementation than other four secondary Tibetan keyboards. Priority for each of four secondary keyboards is not defined in the standard. Users are allowed to take full control to the implementation level of these four secondary keyboards. We assume they have priority in the order they are listed in the standard;
  5. There are few Tibetan consonants and their subjoined forms that are combinations of some Tibetan letters. They can be called Tibetan consonant stacks rather than consonant letters. They are equivalent to certain Tibetan strings, and they can be input by typing sequences of certain Tibetan characters. For example, Tibetan consonant GHA is equivalent to the sequence (or string) of Tibetan consonant letter Ga and Tibetan subjoined letter Ha. Tibetan letter GHA can be input by typing Tibetan letter Ga, then subjoined letter Ha. However, in case some users still want to input Tibetan consonant letter GHA (u+0f43) individually, these Tibetan consonant stacks are assigned onto certain key locations in the keyboard standard;
  6. There is no any rule defined in the Chinese National Standard of Tibetan Keyboard Layout for implementation of the Tibetan keyboard layout. No any limitation is defined for implementation of the Tibetan keyboard except the key location for each Tibetan character. No details of implementation of the keyboard layout are predefined in the standard. Users are having fully right to determine how to implement their keyboard. However, the bottom of line is that users are required to keep key locations for all Tibetan characters identical with the standard no matter what priority the keyboards have in your implementation. In other words, users are allowed to switch five keyboards each other, but are not allowed to change key locations for characters on a same keyboard layout.

Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard of Windows Vista

Based on Chinese National Standard of Tibetan Keyboard Layout, Microsoft designed a Tibetan Keyboard for Windows Vista. There are five keyboard layers in Windows Tibetan keyboard that is completely identical with the five keyboards in national standard of Tibetan keyboard layout. In Windows Tibetan keyboard, regular keyboard is allocated for the first keyboard (i.e. the main keyboard) of national standard of Tibetan keyboard layout. Four keyboard layers (virtual keyboards) obtained by combining two state keys: "SHIFT" and "Alt+Ctrl+Shift", and two "DEAD" keys: "lower case m" and "upper case M" with regular keyboard respectively, are allocated for the four secondary keyboards of Chinese National Standard of Tibetan Keyboard Layout. Let's call these four virtual keyboards as "Shift keyboard","Alt+Ctrl+Shift keyboard", "m keyboard" and "M keyboard". So in Windows Tibetan keyboard, "m keyboard", "Shift keyboard", "Alt+Ctrl+Shift keyboard" and "M keyboard" are allocated for four secondary keyboards of the standard respectively. Therefore, the keyboard layout of Microsoft Tibetan keyboard is as following:

1. Regular Keyboard, corresponding to the main keyboard of national standard of Tibetan keyboard layout:

2. m keyboard, corresponding to the second keyboard of national standard:

3. Shift keyboard, corresponding to the third keyboard of national standard:

4. Alt+Ctrl+Shift keyboard, corresponding to the fourth keyboard of national standard:

5. M keyboard, corresponding to the fifth keyboard of national standard:

Some design notes from Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard:

  1. In the Chinese national standard of Tibetan keyboard layout, the character called "Link", which is from ISO 10646, is assigned onto key 'M' on the regular keyboard. However, there is no such character in Unicode. Key 'm' of regular keyboard will be wasted if we don't use it in other purpose. Therefore, we use key 'm' and its upper case 'M' as dead keys in MS Tibetan keyboard to activate two keyboard layers;
  2. Using dead key 'm' to input characters assigned on second keyboard of national standard of Tibetan keyboard layout, rather than using state key "Shift", is because typing dead key 'm' is much faster than using state key "Shift". And also Tibetan characters allocated on second keyboard have higher frequency data than Tibetan characters allocated on third keyboard of the standard. Therefore, in MS Tibetan keyboard, second keyboard of the national standard is assigned to "m keyboard" of MS Tibetan keyboard, third keyboard of the standard is assigned to "Shift Keyboard" of MS Tibetan keyboard;
  3. Among five keyboard layers of MS Tibetan keyboard, only the first two keyboards, i.e. "Regular keyboard" and "m Keyboard" are necessary for regular Tibetan language. Characters on the rest of three keyboards are rarely used in Tibetan. So don't be scared when you see five keyboard layers in MS Tibetan keyboard, three of them are only prepared for those of users who have special demand for inputting Sanskrit transliteration and many other strange marks and signs. Actually, you will only use the first two keyboard layers in most of your time, just like people type English words by using only two keyboard layers: regular keyboard and keyboard with state key "Shift". It's really easy to remember the key locations.

How to Type Tibetan in Windows Vista by Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard

In Windows Vista, go to Language and Region section of Control Panel and add Tibetan language. If you already did it, then directly go to Language Bar on Task Bar. You will see Tibetan keyboard marked as BO Tibetan (PRC) among keyboards on your language bar. Just simply select Tibetan keyboard. Now you are ready to type Tibetan in Windows.

Through regular keyboard, you can start to type 46 Tibetan Unicode characters assigned on the first keyboard of the Chinese national standard of Tibetan keyboard layout, without having to type any state key or dead key. The layout of these 46 characters is on the first keyboard diagram of Microsoft Windows Tibetan keyboard illustrated above.

From regular keyboard, by typing m key of lower case letter 'm', which is called "dead key", users can type all the characters assigned on the second keyboard of the standard. The details of the layout of Tibetan characters on that keyboard can be referred to "m keyboard" of Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard illustrated above. Each time when you input any character allocated on "m keyboard", you have to type 'm' followed by typing the key where the Tibetan character is allocated.

Same thing for "M keyboard", by typing upper case letter 'M' from regular keyboard, users can type 6 Tibetan characters assigned on the fifth keyboard of the national standard of Tibetan keyboard layout. Its layout can be referred to MS Tibetan keyboard "M keyboard" illustrated above.

On regular keyboard, by using state key "Shift", users can type Tibetan characters allocated on the third keyboard of national standard. The details of the layout of these characters can be referred to the diagram of MS Tibetan keyboard "Shift Keyboard" illustrated above.

On regular keyboard, with the combination of state key "Alt", "Ctrl" and "Shift", users can type all the characters allocated on the fourth keyboard of the standard. The details of the layout of these characters can be referred to the diagram of MS Tibetan keyboard "Alt+Ctrl+Shift Keyboard" illustrated above.

With Microsoft Tibetan keyboard, users input Tibetan syllables or words in the order they write the syllables or words in Tibetan. For example,

Tibetan syllable མི is input by typing Tibetan characters  མ   and  ི  in the order of  མ     ི

Tibetan syllable བསྒྲིགས is input by typing characters in the order of  བ    ས   ྒ    ྲ    ི   ག   ས

Any other typing order against writing order won't be able to input Tibetan syllables and words correctly. For example, typing the two Tibetan characters མ and ི in the order of ི མ will not be able to input Tibetan syllable མི . Same thing for syllable བསྒྲིགས, any different typing order from the order of  བ    ས   ྒ    ྲ    ི   ག   ས will not be able to input Tibetan syllable བསྒྲིགས .

In Microsoft Tibetan keyboard, the first two Tibetan keyboards, "Regular Keyboard" and "m Keyboard", are specially designed for regular Tibetan characters and syllables. Two of them are enough for inputting regular Tibetan, and enough for most of Tibetan users. These two Tibetan keyboards are similar with Regular Keyboard and Shift Keyboard of English keyboard, which typing one key for one character. The only different is we use state key "Shift" to type capital letters in English keyboard. In Tibetan keyboard, we use dead key 'm' to type subjoined Tibetan consonant letters for Tibetan stacks. So keep in mind that by Tibetan keyboard, always use dead key 'm' to type subjoined consonant letters of any Tibetan stacks.

Although the Unicode character U+0F39 is not a real Tibetan character, a key is still allocated for it in MS Tibetan keyboard. It is assigned onto the key combination of "dead key capital M" followed by capital M.

In term of inputting Tibetan Unicode characters into computer, Microsoft Tibetan keyboard is the best keyboard ever. In association with Microsoft Tibetan font Microsoft Himalaya, MS Tibetan keyboard allows users to input any kind of Tibetan stacks, syllables or words. It will guarantee that users can input ALL Tibetan syllables, words and Sanskrit stacks by using the keyboard.

Download Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard Layout

Microsoft Tibetan keyboard has five keyboard layers. It's not possible and not necessary for users to remember all the key locations for all Tibetan characters on these five keyboard layouts. Users can print the five keyboard layouts and put it aside for reference. The first two keyboard layouts are the basic keyboards for inputting regular Tibetan. Key locations of characters on these two keyboards should be able to be remembered in short time after you use the keyboards. For your convenience, we put the images of these five Tibetan keyboard layouts at the following five links for users to download. You can print the images of the keyboard layouts, or you can set one of the five keyboard images as the desktop background on your machine.

Click here to download keyboard layout of "Regular Keyboard" of Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard;

Click here to download keyboard layout of "m Keyboard" of Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard;

Click here to download keyboard layout of "Shift Keyboard" of Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard;

Click here to download keyboard layout of "Alt+Ctrl+Shift Keyboard" of Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard;

Click here to download keyboard layout of "M Keyboard" of Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard;

For setting the "Regular Keyboard" layout of Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard as the desktop background on your machine, you may follow the following steps:

  1. Download the image file of the keyboard layout from the link set above;
  2. Right click mouse on the desktop of your machine;
  3. Select property;
  4. On display property, select desktop;
  5. Click "browse";
  6. Select the keyboard layout image file you downloaded from the link above;
  7. On the "position" pull down menu, select "Center";
  8. Click "OK"

Then, you will have the Tibetan keyboard layout on the desktop of your machine.

Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator

As we said, for inputting Tibetan Unicode characters, Microsoft Tibetan keyboard is the best Tibetan keyboard ever. But if anyone believes he or she has better idea about Tibetan keyboard layout, they are free to build their own Tibetan keyboard in Windows Vista. They don't have to remain stuck with this particular keyboard layout. For those of users who want to have their own keyboard layouts, there is good news for them that Microsoft has already prepared for such event. Microsoft's tool MSKLC, Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator, allows users to design their own keyboard very easily. You can modify one existing keyboard layout, or even create a new one from scratch by using MSKLC. You don't need to write single line of code, but you are able to design your own keyboard and install it on you Windows system immediately. Once users design their own keyboard by MSKLC, they can use it forever. You can install your own keyboard in Windows Vista and replace the one coming with Windows system packet in minutes.

MSKLC is a free software from Microsoft. It is available for free at the following URL:

http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/tools/msklc.mspx

References:

  1. The Unicode Standard, Version 4.0    www.unicode.org
  2. On Frequency Data of Tibetan Characters and Syllables, by Tashi Tsering, No. 2, 1997, China Tibetology
  3. THDL Extended Wylie Transliteration Scheme, THDL,the University Of Virginia
  4. Microsoft Tibetan Keyboard Design Document, by Tashi Tsering
  5. Windows Vista:  http://www.microsoft.com/WindowsVista
  6. 《信息技术 藏文编码字符集键盘字母区数据区的布局》国家标准研制技术报告
  7. Font Design Document for Microsoft Tibetan font: Microsoft Himalaya, by Tashi Tsering
 

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