Dead and Compose keys (was: Re: Romanized Singhala got great reception in Sri Lanka)

Naena Guru naenaguru at
Mon Mar 17 11:08:19 CDT 2014

Making a keyboard is not hard. You can either edit an existing one or make
one from scratch. I made the latest Romanized Singhala one from scratch.
The earlier one was an edit of US-International.

When you type a key on the physical keyboard, you generate what is called a
scan-code of that key so that the keyboard driver knows which key was
pressed. (During DOS days, we used to catch them to make menus.) Now, you
assign one or a sequence of Unicode characters you want to generate for the

Use Microsft's keyboard layout creator for all versions of Windows from XP:

Select the language carefully. I selected US-English for RS. That way, I
can switch between the two keyboards quickly with Ctrl+Shift. You can
change all these in the Control Panel.

Here is the keymap I made for RS in Linux:
Just scroll down for the English part. (The lines starting with double
slashes are comments and have no effect on the program)

The Macintosh key layout is easy too.

The story with iOS and Android are different but not hard either.

On Sun, Mar 16, 2014 at 6:47 PM, Doug Ewell <doug at> wrote:

> Jean-François Colson <jf at colson dot eu> wrote:
>  The idea here was “that characters not on an ordinary QWERTY keyboard
>> could be entered _using_an_ordinary_QWERTY_keyboard._” Are there any
>> dead keys on an _ordinary_ (i.e. not one using an international(ized)
>> driver) QWERTY keyboard?
> Not on the standard vanilla U.S. keyboard. It has to be provided by the
> OS, via a driver, just as Compose key support has to be provided by the OS.
> The standard vanilla U.S. keyboard also doesn't provide the accented
> letters and other non-ASCII letters like ð that Naena Guru uses for his
> font hack.
>  If a character is available by a dead key, isn’t it on the keyboard ?
> It depends on what you mean by "on the keyboard." Thanks to John Cowan's
> delightful Moby Latin keyboard layout, I can type AltGr+\ followed by 7 to
> get the fraction ⅐ (one-seventh). That character is not "on the keyboard"
> in any sense other than what the driver provides.
> --
> Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, USA
> | @DougEwell ­
> _______________________________________________
> Unicode mailing list
> Unicode at
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