A better keyboard layout for typing IAST on Mac OS X (based on EasyUnicode)
To type IAST (English letters with diacritics, for Sanskrit transliteration) on Mac OS X, perhaps the easiest way, rather than to use transliteration tools, is to get a keyboard layout that does it. Just to be clear, this is the alphabet we want:
a ā i ī u ū ṛ ṝ ḷ ḹ e ai o au ṃ ḥ k kh g gh ṅ c ch j j ñ ṭ ṭh ḍ ḍh ṇ t t d dh n p ph b bh m y r l v ś ṣ s h
In other words, the special characters needed are:
- Letters with macron above: ā ī ū ṝ ḹ plus it may be occasionally useful to have ē and ō as well
- Letters with dot below: ṭ ḍ ṇ ṣ (the retroflex consonants), also the vowels ṛ ṝ ḷ ḹ, plus ṃ and ḥ (anusvāra)
- Letters with other marks above: ṅ ñ ś
There is a keyboard layout that does this: It’s called “EasyUnicode”, created by Toshiya Unebe (Nagoya University), and is documented at http://ebmp.org/p_easyunicode.php (“EasyUnicode version 5″ it says) (PDF version), and you can download it from http://www.ebmp.org/p_dwnlds.php (EBMP) (=Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project, University of Washington) or also http://www.palitext.com/subpages/PC_Unicode.htm “Pali Fonts for PC and Unicode”. (Page in Japanese.)
This keyboard layout is just like the usual (US English) layout ordinarily, but when you hold down the Alt (Option) key and press a, you get ā, similarly Option+s gives ś, Option+n gives ñ and Option+g gives ṅ, etc. The full mapping is available along with other documentation in the download above.
This is very convenient. One issue with the layout is that also overrides a lot of keys for no apparent reason (Ctrl-A / Ctrl-E etc. stopped working for me), so I got Ukelele from SIL, and wrote my own keyboard layout. I’ve called it EasyIAST, and it is available here for now. I plan to add a README etc. and distribute it in some proper way later; for now you can use the instructions from EasyUnicode above. If you find it useful and/or make any improvements, please let me know as well.
If some time is available, it would be good to make a Devanagari keyboard layout along the same lines.