I’m learning Hausa, and trying to type as much of it up as possible. It’s not particularly original, but I’ve used the excellent Ukelele program to produce a nice wee Mac Keyboard Layout file to make it quicker to type Hausa a little more properly than most people manage.
Here it is: Hausa (+tone).bundle (a 20K zip file)
What you need
An Apple computer running Mac OS X 10.6, or 10.5, and maybe back to 10.4 or before.
How to install it
- Download the .zip file, double-click to unzip it (unless that happened automatically) and you’ll get a .bundle file.
- Move that into your /Library/Keyboard Layouts folder.
- Open System Preferences > Languages & Text
Switch to the Input Sources tab and scroll down the list of languages to find Hausa. Put a tick in that box and it’ll join the list of languages available on your computer for you to type with. Note the keyboard shortcuts given for changing keyboards.
How to type with it
- Hausa has 3 extra ‘hooked’ letters: ɓ ɗ ƙ. Hold down the alt key (option on some keyboards) and press the normal b d k keys. Alternatively since Hausa doesn’t use x and v, these produce ɗ and ɓ too.
- Type ` (beside left SHIFT on my MacBook) then a vowel to get low tone marked with a grave ` accent.
- Type / then a vowel to get high tone marked with an acute ´ accent.
- Type \ then a vowel to get falling tone marked with a circumflex ^.
Notes (especially for linguists)
- I know there are two r sounds but many struggle to distinguish them, I struggle to hear them and so far I’ve not really needed to. Also ‘y is written just as apostrophe y; no special keystroke.
- Hausa has contrastive vowel length and tone. I tend to write long vowels by just doubling the vowel. It may not be the best way, but accents over vowels are an easy way to write tone.
- Hearing tone is complicated by the marked down-step in tone throughout but especially towards the end of a sentence. So a sentence final HIGH tone may very well be lower than a sentence initial LOW tone. (At least that’s how it seems to me.)
- Let me know if you enjoy it, or if you have other suggestions that could improve its use. A version for French or Arabic keyboards might be helpful, but I can’t do that so easily.