A Unicode Keyboard for African Languages: The Case of Dagaare and Twi

A Unicode Keyboard for African Languages: The Case of Dagaare and Twi

Adams Bodomo (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong), Charles Marfo (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong), Andrew Cunningham (State Library of Victoria, Australia) and Sally Y.K. Mok (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/jthi.2006010101
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Writing technology is a central issue for Human Language Technology (HLT) both in terms of theory and actual implementation. Two issues that neatly divide theory and practical implementation are what and how to represent. What to represent takes us into the realm of linguistic analysis. Once the question of what to represent is answered reasonably well, the question of how to represent has to be addressed. This is where computer technology comes in. Challenging issues that have to be addressed in alphabetic writing systems are how to felicitously represent difficult graphemes and other diacritics. These issues are discussed with reference to two African languages — Dagaare and Twi. After reviewing works for the development of orthography for these languages (Bodomo, 1997, 2000; GLASC, 1990; Hartell, 1993), we propose a set of Unicode graphemes for Dagaare and Twi, respectively, based on a discussion of the phonemic systems of the languages. We then indicate how these conceptualized Unicode graphemes that we have proposed can be developed practically into a real keyboard system for the two languages.

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