Dr. Guru Prasad
KaNaada Phonetics pvt ltd.
Rarely we come across old keyboards for Indian languages. Today at the Bangalore Bunts Association event and exhibition,on TULU (language), Sahitya (literature) & Cultural event, came across a Kannada Typewriter among historic things people used at home and in agriculture and literature in coastal Tulunad area. Yes people had to use Kannada language Script (Lipi) to type Tulu language. Yes we do have a separate TULU lipi and yes a new TULU USB keyboard. (It has been long since the first printing press in kannada arrived in Mangalore from Germany leading to TULU granthas being printed in Kannada leading to a deadly demise of TULU (or Tigalari) script in a span of 20 years.
The Indic language computer keyboards were all overlays on keyboards based off qwerty English keyboard. QWERTY keyboard layout came from a 100 year old typewriter layout. Prof. Sastry has written some seminal articles on why Ka-Naada and why we lack keyboards suitable for Indic languages.
Here is a picture of an old FACIT kannada typewriter. Remington had the first typewriter more than a 100 years ago and the first line was designed to type the word TYPEWRITER fast and had nothing to do with phonetics and English with 26 alphabets is not a phonetic language (please note the second script proposed for English had 26+12 alphabets). This explains why these overlays didn’t catch up for Indic languages.
You can imagine the difficulty faced by people who made a living off this device and the multiple buttons to get a character. The beauty of TULU script and literature needs a better digital solution. Ka-Naada TM layout has brought significant simplicity to the layout of Indic languages and a child can learn it in no time. This USB keyboard can significantly help in content creation and one keyboard can be used for any Indic language based of BRAHMI script or Lipi.
Above is a Ka-Naada pad for TULU typing.
NY Times article predicts the demise of 7 major languages of India (including Kannada) to be out of vogue in next 50 years. Yes it is on us to provide better solutions to save our languages and YES our CULTURE.