Friday, 28 November 2014

Malay Language in Cyrillic Script (Абжад Сирил Мәлаю) - Part 3 - Computer Input

Добрый день and good day to everyone! 

In the beginning of this year I introduced the Malay Cyrillic alphabet to the world but I did not leave any indication of how to use it in everyday life. One of the most ubiquitous ways we handle our daily routine is by using modern computer devices for work, entertainment and studies. In this post I will bring to light the compatibility issues and ways to use the Malay Cyrillic alphabet seamlessly on your PC.

Unicode Compatibility

All letters of the Malay Cyrillic alphabet are included in the latest version of Unicode.


As of now, only a number of pre-installed fonts may be used to perfectly transcribe the alphabet without any issues. Luckily there are both serif and sans-serif options for the user. The best way to check whether the fonts support the characters in the script is by typing using the alphabet in a word processing software like Microsoft Word. Here is the list of fonts which support the Malay Cyrillic script:

  • Times New Roman
  • Courier New
  • Cambria
  • Cambria Math
  • PT Serif
  • Consolas
  • Calibri
  • Calibri Light
  • Arial
  • Helvetica
  • Segoe UI
  • Segoe UI Light
  • Segoe UI Semibold
  • Meiryo
  • Meiryo UI
  • Tahoma
Note: Generally well-known fonts have much better compatibility with the original Russian alphabet, where the Malay Cyrillic alphabet was derived from. If you wish to use these fonts while transcribing Malay into Cyrillic, see "Alternative Orthography for Computer Usage" for details on how to use purely Russian letters to write Malay.

Keyboard Layout for Malay Cyrillic

Since Malay Cyrillic includes letters not found in Russian, one may not simply use the Russian keyboard layout that is already installed in a Windows PC. To counter this problem, I had developed a new keyboard layout specially crafted for Malay Cyrillic using Microsoft Keyboard Layout Editor Software. This software could be used to edit existing keyboard layouts for all languages which are already pre-installed in your PC  as well as create new ones with your own combinations of characters.

A mapping of the general keyboard layout

The layout and position of the letters of the alphabet is mostly based on the regular QWERTY keyboard to type English and Malay in Latin script. Basically the Cyrillic letters are matched up to their Latin equivalents so that one could simply type using their knowledge of he mainstream Rumi script and have Cyrillic appear in the screen. For example: when you press the 'Z' key, letter 'З' would appear.

The keyboard is also fully compatible to be used for other languages using the Cyrillic script. The latest version supports Russian (Русский), Ukrainian (Україньска), Belarussian (Беларуская) and Uzbek (Ўзбекча) languages. Additional letters included to support these languages needs to be entered while holding 'Alt Gr' key.

To download the latest version of the Malay Cyrillic Keyboard Software, please click this link.

Input in Smartphones

Currently I have not yet developed any proper method of typing the Malay Cyrillic alphabet into smartphone and tablet PCs. The complexity of developing a software system coupled with limited free time prevent me from typing Cyrillic Malay using my own smartphone! This is because, as you already would know, Malay Cyrillic use letters from outside the conventional Russian alphabet.

Letters like 'ә' and 'ҥ' could be entered by using an application called 'Unicode Chars'. This application enables smartphone users to input any Unicode character provided that the font installed on the system could support it. It is very similar to the 'Character Map' on a Windows PC, or the 'Symbols' tab in Microsoft Word. This app could be downloaded from the Google Play Store in Android phones, and similar apps exist for Apple in the iTunes App Store. Unicode Chars is free to use.

Granted, typing Malay Cyrillic words will be slow this way because letters are not laid out in a convenient keyboard layout, so for a faster input method, see below for "Alternative Orthography for Computer Usage."

Alternative Orthography for Computer Usage

The alternative orthography or writing system I created is meant to be used when the non-Russian letters of Malay Cyrillic are not available. It maybe because Unicode is not supported, or when the Malay Cyrillic alphabet layout is not available.

Title and Subtitle Translation:
"Usage of Cyrillic for Computers - With Only Using Russian Cyrillic Letters"

The system is based on the first version of the Malay Cyrillic alphabet before reforming it to the way it is now. This version is a slightly modified version of that.

This alternative system employs Russian letters only - so letters like ҥ would not be there. This system also uses the soft sign and the hard sign from Russian, but they are not used to indicate palatalisation. Instead they are used to distinguish sounds, as explained above in the image.

Rules of alternative spelling with Russian-derived letters do not change from the original Malay Cyrillic alphabet with the exception of ё, which in the alternative spelling could be written as е. This happens very often in the Russian language itself. For example, мёд (honey) is often written just as мед, but pronounced always as 'myod'.

The benefit of using this alternative orthography over the official version is that all fonts which support the Russian Cyrillic alphabet could be used without any problems. Fonts downloaded from the Internet, like the one used in the example above, could be used to write Malay without any missing letters or boxes.

PREVIOUSLY: Malay Language in Cyrillic Script (Абжад Сирил Мәлаю) - Part 2 - Further Explanation

COMING NEXT: Malay Language in Cyrillic Script (Абжад Сирил Мәлаю) - Part 4 - Official Names of the Letters


  1. That's incredible! I'll talk about your language to my students. They are surprised when they learn that the letters and sounds of the Belarusian language are found in Malay.

    1. Thank you for your encouraging comments! Do have a look at the rest of my posts related to the Malay Cyrillic alphabet, I explained them in further detail there. I'm glad you like it :)

  2. Belarusian keyboard layout in Windows 8: