The other day, we received a review on the iTunes Store for Keyman, which was really a support request. Now the problem with asking for help in the iTunes reviews is that Apple provide no means for us to respond to you. This is unfortunate, especially when, as in this case, there is a simple answer to the problem!

Please continue writing reviews — but if you have a question, just drop us an email to support@keyman.com as well!

This time, I'm writing an answer to Elias as a blog post, in the hope that Elias will stumble across this answer, or that at the very least, it helps other Amharic users of this keyboard layout. But this is clearly not the most efficient way to help you! 🙂

Elias's review

Review

Our response

The complexity of entering Amharic and other Geez script languages can be bewildering, and even the GFF keyboard layout, arguably the best yet devised, is limited by being designed around a standard "US English" physical keyboard using phonetic relationships between the Geez and Latin alphabet characters.

But help is available! The complete guide for entering the Geez characters can be seen by touching (i) on the Keyboard entry for Amharic. This will display a sub-menu indicating the keyboard version and a link to the complete Help documentation for using the keyboard.

You can also go directly to the help for this (or any other) keyboard using the Support link and navigating to the link to the documentation for the keyboard being used, in this case Amharic (GFF).

To answer Elias's specific question: to enter the Geez character it is necessary to use the input sequence 'sie' (ስ ኢ እ on the keyboard), not just 'se'. As Amharic has many more vowel sounds than can be represented by the Latin alphabet vowel letters, some syllables require entry of more than one vowel letter. This is also the result of the keyboard having been translated from a desktop layout, as described above.


2 thoughts on “In response to a Keyman for iPhone Review: How to type ሴ with Keyman”

Yonas · January 1, 2019 at 7:46 am

This is an extremely poor solution, especially on a touch/virtual keyboard! There are plenty of potential, alternate ways to represent this vowel in Ethiopic scripts.
It is only because Ethiopia has been such an impoverished nation that our languages and alphabets have gotten such inadequate support and lack of standardization.
And it is only the result of ignorance that Ethiopians accept such solutions that don’t make any sense from a native language perspective.

The majority of these keyboards for Amharic and other Ethiopian languages are so focused on this completely futile and pointless effort of trying to match up Latin letters to the consonants and vowels of our languages without any respect for their history, their linguistic roots and correlations or the intersection of grammar, etymology and writing system.

Every vowel in the Ge’ez script should be represented by a single, unique key on a standard keyboard!

I realize that many of the original solutions were even developed by Ethiopians; however, they come from an unfortunate era of Ethiopic studies being dominated by Western scholars and their native Latin-based languages.
We need to abandon these obsolete, inefficient layouts in favor of input methods designed with the language it serves in mind.

Every letter must be typed with no more than 2 keystrokes; not including modifier keys on layouts for physical keyboards.
Given the technology of the modern age we should have already developed a predictive input method that only requires entry of the consonant for each fidal.

Please understand that I do not intend to criticize the developer of this or other Amharic keyboard; however, I wish to challenge and motivate users to be more discerning and to reject keyboards whose logic doesn’t match the language it serves.

    Marc Durdin · January 1, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Yonas. Please do consider creating and sharing your own Amharic layout using Keyman Developer (https://keyman.com/developer) because as you note, on mobile devices we are not restricted to the paradigms of hardware keyboards.

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