Shavian is an alphabet that is intended to be used as an alternative to our existing Latin alphabet. There are many reasons why it is both bad and good, ignoring all those it’s fun. Needless to say, I kinda like it.

Well today I spent a while looking for a website that would explain to me how to set up my computer in such a way that I’m able to write Shavian in Unicode.

Why Unicode? Well you’re quite right there are many excellent Shavian fonts that simply replace the standard English characters with the Shavian characters for that keyboard position. These are a fantastic way of playing around with Shavian, but simply put aren’t the way forward.

Unicode allows one font file to store information for multiple languages. Which should be that as long as you have at least one font on your computer with Shavian information in it then you’ll be able to see my text. The amazing thing is that it doesn’t have to be the same font that I’m using and I don’t have inform viewers of my documents that a specific font is required.

Any ways, back to the point. The closest I came in my quest for help, was a very old post in a yahoo news group that claimed to have the exact solution I wanted. Unfortunately the attachment to the message was stripped by yahoo.

So, I solved the problem myself and wish to share this with the rest of the world. Just in case someone else out there find this useful.

  1. Attached to this post you will hopefully find a ZIP file.
  2. This file contains a install program.
  3. This install program will install on to your Windows NT/2000/XP computer, a Keyboard Layout. The layout is set up for English (United Kingdom) and is called Shavian.

Using the keyboard layout is easy but simply installing it is not enough. You also need a Unicode Shavian font. ESL Shavian Unicode by Ethan is very good and available from his webiste.

Once you have the font and the layout you need to visit your Windows Control Panel. in the control panel you should find an icon for Regional and Language Options. In there you should find a Languages tab and a method for accessing the Text services and input languages details. In there you will find an Add button which will allow you to add the keyboard layout to your computer. While there you should also take a look at the Key Settings which allow you to set up a combination of keys for switching between standard keyboard and Shavian keyboard.

If you like the above process is too long winded, complain at Microsoft, (they wrote it).

Update (23 April 2007):

I’ve noticed a small problem with the attached ZIP file, I encoded some of the characters wrongly :( I plan to remake it but haven’t done so yet. Make a comment if you’re looking for this.

Update (31 August 2012):

I’ve rebuilt the Shavian Unicode Keyboard and it’s now available for download. Please visit the other article for details.

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