|Intellark: The new Arabic keyboard layout tutorial||| Print ||
Table of Contents
Intellark is a new intuitive keyboard layout for typing in Arabic. It is designed for keyboard typists who type using Latin-based keyboard layouts similar to the one shown in Figure 1, but wish to type in Arabic-based alphabet languages using their current typing knowledge. If the layout similar to that in Figure 1 is all you know, then Intellark is for you, guaranteed!
This 10-minute video gives an introduction on Intellark and the motivations behind creating it.
The next section presents background on Arabic characters that Intellark produces. Section 3 presents features of Intellark. Sections 4 to 9 introduce Intellark through nine interactive tutorials that take about one hour. Section 10 shows Intellark through numerous tables and figures for bulletin board copies (if needed ;-).
The tutorial is concluded with Section 11, where a mini poll and an area where you can contribute comments about your Intellark experience are provided.
Intellark supports 48 characters. To facilitate learning Intellark, the following points are noted:
When learning Intellark and practicing the exercises provided below, please note the following:
What distinguishes Intellark is that typing using it can be mastered in a very short time. Following is an enumeration of such features.
According to the phonetic pronunciation of the 28 Arabic letters, there exists a direct one-to-one phonetic correspondence between 19 English and Arabic letters; they are the easiest to remember and are listed below in Table 1.
Let’s practice typing using the above 19 letters using the following two exercises.
Exercise 1: Displaying letters of Table 1 on the screen
Starting from right to left, type the 19 letters below several times. For example, typing the letter a in the text-area below will show ا , b will show ب , c will show ص , and so on. Make sure you type in lowercase letters. Characters not mentioned in Table 1 are handled below in the following sections.
Exercise 2: Writing using letters of Table 1
Write the sentences shown below. For example, you can write the first sentence of ابي و امي by typing these letters: aby w amy. Note that hamza (همزة) based characters and diacritics (تـشـكـيـل) are handled later.
Congratulations! You typed all of the above using 73% of the English keys without any learning! This accounts for 50% of the type-able Arabic letters mentioned in Section 2.
If you are used to typing in Arabic using typical Latin-based keyboard layouts, this exercise is specially for you.
Test: How would you write سمك (fish) in Arabic using a Latin-based keyboard? Try writing it now in the text-area below before proceeding. Did you type the letters smk, or samak? And how would you write the word كتب (he wrote) in Arabic? Did you type the letters ktb or kataba? Probably in both cases you chose the second spelling, right? This is because you are thinking in English to write Arabic words! What you should do is to think of the keyboard keys as if they were Arabic character keys, not English letter keys. Result? Instead of writing ساماك and كاتابا , you would correctly write سمك and كتب. Now, translate these words into Arabic and write them in the text-area below: boy, girl, chair, hand. Want the translation of these words? Drag your mouse between the following two brackets.
[ ولد بنت كرسي يد ]
[ بريد جميل قميص ]
Nine of the Arabic letters in Table 1 can be used as aliases (pointers, or reminders) to another 9 Arabic letters based on direct phonetic- and/or shape-similarity; they are listed Column 2 in Table 2 below.
To type any of the letters in the second column of Arabic letters, press the English key twice very rapidly (i.e., within a fraction of a second). Note that this resembles how Arabic letters are drawn on paper. For example, whereas the number strokes, or number of times you put your hand on paper and lift it up to draw the letter د is one, and twice to draw ذ , similarly Intellark needs you to make one press on Key d to type د , and two presses to put a dot on د to produce ذ. Therefore, if it takes one press to write either of س ص و , then it takes two presses to put a dot or a hamza (the character ء ) on them to produce ش ض ؤ . If needed, watch the 16 second video to see key tapping in action.
There is an exception to the above rule. In the case when Key y is pressed, ي is shown first because it is more frequent than its look-alike ى , as is shown in the frequency table in Figure 3.
Exercise 4: Double-tapping letters of Table 2
To write أ , type the letter a twice very rapidly (within a fraction of a second). The rest of the letters are treated similarly. Write these 9 letters several times (start from right to left): أ پ ض ذ خ ش ة ؤ ى . Notice that Intellark provides a rotary typing mechanism, so pressing Key s for example continuously keeps switching between س and ش. So to write the word مدد , some waiting period (a third of a second for example) is needed between the two presses to produce the second د instead of simply putting a dot on the first to produce ذ.
Exercise 5: Writing using letters in Tables 1 - 2
To write أبي , type: a2by, where a2 means that a is typed twice very rapidly. To write the name خالد , type k2ald . Note by the way that there is no direct phonetic equivalent to the letter خ in English, and that kh is consistently used to approximate the phonetic sound of خ , hence typing k twice displays خ . Write these small sentences.
Exercise 6: Switching between Arabic and English typing
To switch between typing in Arabic and typing in English, press together the keys Alt-L (L for languages, or لغة) to switch from Arabic to English and back. Try these sentences now.
The Arabic vowels are made up of these three letters: ا و ي . Intellark designates each of these letters as an alias to their modified forms, so ا is designated as alias to (read from right to left): أ إ آ ء , letter و is alias to ؤ , and ي is alias to ى ئ. Table 3 shows the frequency analysis of the vowel letters and their modified forms as counted in the Book of Quran, which contains about 330,709 letters as follows:
Therefore, the higher the frequency of a letter, the smaller the number of presses to print it. So, to write أ which is less frequent than ا, press the Key a twice rapidly; to write إ , press the Key a three times rapidly. To write ئ , press ي three times in a row. Here we see the mechanics work, but keeping low the number of key presses would definitely be preferred. Intellark introduces the solution in the following section.
Suppose we wanted to write the word سماء , what are the keys to be pressed according to what we have learned so far? These would be : smaa5 , right? Try it now. To keep a low number of key presses while typing, Intellark uses the Shift key to access multi-character typing keys in reverse order. So, reading from right to left, if the normal order for the list of key a is ا أ إ آ ء , then the reverse order that’s generated in listing the letters when pressing Shift a (i.e., A) is ء آ إ أ ا , where Shift a means that Key a is pressed while holding down the Shift key. Note that continuous pressing issues the sequence in a rotary way as in ء آ إ أ ا ء آ... . So writing the word سماء is achieved faster by the letters smaA. Similarly, writing the word الآن is achieved by pressing alA2n, where A2 means pressing Key a twice while holding down the Shift key. More letters may now be added to Table 2 for more complete mappings as shown in Table 4 below.
Can you write the word الأئمة ? Try now without looking at the next sentence. So, you should have typed ala2y3mt2, or, ala2Ymt2. Note that ث is one more dot than ت , but since ة is more frequent than ث, the list of Key t is ت ة ث as shown in Table 4. Try write these few sentences now.
Therefore, just 19 of 26 Latin letters can be used as aliases to 33 out of the 38 Arabic letters without the effort needed to learning much anew; rather, we simply bring out and exploit knowledge we already had. The only new thing we may have learned is the mechanism used in printing some of the low frequency letters. The learning curve should remain relatively flat as a result, which is good.
Do you know which letters have been left untreated so far? Try to guess before reading ahead.8.1. The case of the letter ح
While considering to map Key h, two candidates highly qualified: هـ and ح ; this is because both of these Arabic letters are transliterated or transcribed into h. Resorting to our frequency analysis in Figure 3, it is revealed that هـ is almost three times more frequent then ح. Table 5 shows the rank and frequency of these two letters. This justifies mapping Key h to هـ , which is also more precise phonetically speaking. In searching for an easy-to-remember key for ح , Key g presents itself as a good candidate since:
For convenience, and because of the shape similarity between ح and its much less frequent look-alike خ , pressing Key g twice puts a dot on the ح to display خ . Therefore, there are all these ways to write خل , which means vinegar:
Contrary to the way English alphabet is arranged, Arabic alphabet possesses many characteristics inherent in their alphabetical order as mentioned in Section 3. These characteristics are conveniently exploited when mapping English keys to what's left of the Arabic letters. For example, in the Arabic alphabet, these four letters are listed in the order shown here (read right to left): ص ض ط ظ . Remembering such ordering, and since the unused Key x is to the immediate left of Key c on most Latin-based keyboard layouts, where Key c is alias to the pair ص ض, it is easy to find the intuition in assigning the pair ط ظ to Key x .8.3. The case of the letters ع and غ
At this stage, one of two English consonants and one pair of Arabic same-shape letters remain unmapped, Key p and the pair ع غ. To help inject intuition into this map, it is worth mentioning that numerous Arabian names start with the prefix عبد as in عبد الله and عبد الرحمـٰـن , which in turn start with the letter ع; therefore, assigning ع to the little finger (pinkie) on the right hand should be sufficiently intuitive, especially to touch-typists.
The list of mapped letters may now be completed with these three mappings of Section 8 as shown in Table 6:
Therefore, 22 of the 26 English letters can be used as aliases to all of the 38 Arabic letters mentioned in Section 2.
Write these small sentences.
At this stage, only four English letters remain unmapped, these are the vowels o, i, u and e. Also, the only Arabic writable characters that remain unassigned are the eight diacritics and the two symbols mentioned in Section 2. These diacritics are essentially equivalent to short vowels in English; they sit above or below letters and guide to accurate phonetic pronunciation of words. English vowels are therefore mapped to Arabic diacritics based on phonetic similarity. Examples using Canadian city names are used to show the mapping:
The four diacritics can in turn be used as aliases to several other less-frequent related diacritics in the following manner:
The complete listing of mapping to diacritics is shown in Table 7 below.
Exercise 9: Writing using diacritics of Table 7
Write these few sentences.
This last section shows Intellark through several figures that show all characters that Intellark produces as a function of the number of key presses. Table 8 shows all the letters and diacritics of the Intellark layout.
Table 9 shows the result of pressing some of the punctuation characters available on any keyboard, all other keys produce the same labels imprinted on them. Note that the second press on the Key comma produces the English comma back, which is mainly used to allow for writing numbers of 4 or more digits, as in 12,345,678 instead of 12،345،678.
Whereas Table 8 lists the map based on the alphabetical order of the English letters, Figure 4 displays the map based on the alphabetical ordering of the Arabic characters.
Figure 5 shows how Intellark may fit on a QWERTY keyboard layout. The rules for using this bulletin board image are as follows.
Intellark is striving to be the most natural choice for intuitive multilingual bidirectional typing. We would like to hear your thoughts about Intellark and the exercises used in this tutorial page, maybe you can suggest something better to make learning Intellark more joyful. You may write your comments in Arabic too using our Bidirectional Comment Component.