I have managed to get myself involved in helping with a Society of Biblical
Literature project to develop a keyboard layout for Unicode Coptic fonts and
am after some feedback. For those who (like me before I got involved) are
not sure about the significance of this: each character in a Unicode font is
assigned a unique code, and this makes it possible for scholars and
publishers to exchange texts between Unicode environments without converting
texts or losing data.
What I am helping with is working out which characters to assign to which
keys on a keyboard to make them user-friendly.
Since I started learning Coptic, I have been using the (non-Unicode) fonts
made available on the Coptic Orthodox Church website
, which they are proposing as an
international standard for Coptic.As a touch typist, I find their keyboard
layout find very user-friendly. It was also very quick to learn, having
been designed to be used by people who type a lot of Coptic, so I have been
suggesting that this would be the best layout to use. The technical person
who has designed the provisional layout however says the layout he is
proposing is "based on the Greek Polytonic layout...[because] I suspect that
scholars of Coptic are likely to be familiar with that, and would prefer
something closely corresponding to it for Coptic too." He asks "Would those
scholars who are already familiar with the international-standard Greek
Polytonic mapping outnumber those who are familiar with the Church one?"
I have no idea, and I also wonder how important this is for typists who
don't touch type. So, can I have some feedback, please?
Are people on this list familiar with the Greek Polytonic keyboard layout?
And if you are, how important would it be for a unicode Coptic keyboard to
have the characters common to the Greek and Coptic alphabets on the same
keys in both?
And, incidentally, does anyone here use uppercase and lowercase in Coptic?
The unicode font with which we are working (New Athena) has both, but I
wasn't aware that uppercase was ever used. The characters look the same,
except for one that only occurs in Bohairic - they're just bigger.
And anyone who would like to be involved more directly would be welcome. I
made the mistake of complaining on the SBL fonts list that the keyboard
mapping for the existing Coptic font on the SBL site was very
non-typist-friendly and got invited to help out and suddenly I am the
resident Coptic expert after four semesters of working with the language and
very little familiarity with any text other than Gospel of Thomas!!!!!!
" Let us forever remember that the sense for the sacred is as vital to us as
the light of the sun." - Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1944
Rev Judy Redman
Uniting Church Chaplain
University of New England
ph: +61 2 6773 3739
fax: +61 2 6773 3749