I am putting these thoughts through my blog, since I do not know who the competent authority is, to take this forward. If any of you know who the authority is, kindly forward this to the competent authority.
I am a great fan of INSCIPT keyboard layout and have been its user since 2002(well, thats more than a decade). I have tried to convince others that this is the best (among existing) for Indian Language typing. Inscript in its current form is best suited for Devanagari script typing( aka. Hindi) but it has few shortcomings when its comes to South Indian Language typing.(Kannada, Telugu, malayalam, Tamil)
This article is to suggest some improvements to be made in INSCRIPT. These improvements, when implemented would make INSCRIPT best suited for all Indian Languages and not necessarily Hindi typing.
Existing Inscript Layout
(Courtesy – wikipedia)
1. Placement of vowel ऎ – There are three vowels in this family(ऎ, ए, ऐ) (ಎ, ಏ, ಐ). In Sanskrit, the latter two(ए, ऐ) finds heavy usage but the first(ऎ) is rarely used. However, in South Indian Languages all three are heavily used. These keys are mapped to (z, s, w) respectively. However, considering the vowel’s family, these have to be mapped to (x, s, w) respectively. Reason – (w, s, x) fall under single column in Keyboard layout), its very natural to place them (ऎ, ए, ऐ) and (ಎ, ಏ, ಐ)
2. Placement of ऒ – In Sanskrit, this character is rarely used and hence it has been placed on “~” character. However, in almost all South Indian Languages this character (ಒ(kannada), ఒ(telugu), ഒ(malayalam) ) is heavily used. Its very hard to type this character using INSCRIPT keyboard layout. This character’s natural position should be on ‘z’. (which currently holds ऎ, ಎ).
The first two improvements leads to
(ऎ, ए, ऐ) – (ಎ, ಏ, ಐ) – (x, s, w)
(ऒ, ओ, औ) – (ಒ, ಓ, ಔ) – (z, a, q)
3. Placement of Anuswaara and म – The character, ‘c’ of the English keyboard is currently used for two characters, म and ण. This needs to improved to hold, अं and म respectively. Reason – While अं is a nasal vowel म is a nasal consonant. Infact, one can be substituted for the other in few scenarios as well. मनोहरं – मनोहरम् would be signify the same. Hence these two characters needs to be mapped to ‘c’.
4. Placement of ण – This is related to Suggestion 1, instead of clubbing ण with म, it needs to be clubbed with न(the character v of the English U.S Keyboard layout).
5. Remaining characters – Because of the changes in 1, 2, 3, and 4, The two existing characters (ऩ and ँ) loose their mapping. Also, note that these two characters themselves are rarely used. Hence, these two could be mapped to “~” which would’ve become vacant after implementing suggestions 1 and 2.
Here is the modified layout. Note that with just these little changes, huge improvements could be achieved in Indian Language typing.