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Old English & Old Norse Keyboards

Download the keyboards

Click here to download the Old English keyboard for Windows.

Click here to download the Old Norse keyboard for Windows.

Right-click here to download the Old English keyboard for Mac. (Note: the file name should be 'OldEnglishVanBenthuysen.keylayout'. The name of this file seems to change when it is downloaded. Please revert to this file name after you download to ensure proper function.)

Right-click here to download the Old Norse keyboard for Mac. (Note: the file name should be 'OldNorseVanBenthuysen.keylayout'. The name of this file seems to change when it is downloaded. Please revert to this file name after you download to ensure proper function.)

Click here for Daniel O'Donnell's custom keyboard solution for Linux

Tools to troubleshoot these keyboards or to create your own.

Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator

Ukelele Mac OS X Keyoard Layout Creator

Right-click here to download the .klc file for the Old English Keyboard for Windows (to troubleshoot with Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator). (Note: the file name should be 'OldEnglish-VanBenthuysen.klc'. The name of this file seems to change when it is downloaded. Please revert to this file name after you download to ensure proper function.)

Right-click here to download the .klc file for the Windows Old Norse Keyboard for Windows (to troubleshoot with Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator). (Note: the file name should be 'OldNorse-VanBenthuysen.klc'. The name of this file seems to change when it is downloaded. Please revert to this file name after you download to ensure proper function.)

About these keyboards

I created these keyboard layouts to be simple for those who use the US English keyboard layout (standard on Windows if you live in the US). They include all the special characters for Old English and Old Norse, form the characters by adding a simple keystroke, provide two options for adding macrons (Old English) and acute accents (Old Norse) to most vowels, and intrude minimally on the standard US keyboard layout (the only regular key altered is the ').

Here are a few things to keep in mind about these keyboards:

  • The Windows keyboards should be compatable with any version of Windows back through Windows 2000 and up to Windows 7. My instructions, however, will be based on Windows Vista (Windows XP and Windows 7 should be quite similar). The Mac Keyboards should be compatable with OSX back through 10.2. My instructions are based on 10.5.
  • The keyboard layouts allow you to quickly create Unicode characters. In order for them to display, the program and font you are using must support the character.
    • Programs: Most word processors, office programs, and browsers from the past decade should have no problem displaying these characters, so long as you have a font. When using Notepad, when you click Save As, you should select Unicode in the Encoding drop down before saving to ensure you do not lose the non-standard characters.
    • Fonts: Your best bet is to select one of the standard fonts--Times New Roman or Arial--as I am sure the current iterations of those fonts support all the characters. If you select another font, if the character is not supported (likely with some characters like ǣ or ƿ), either the character will not display or the font will change. You might experiement to see if other fonts support the characters you need. If your fonts (which usually come with the operating system or the word processing program) are more than five years old, even Times New Roman and Arial might not support all the characters.
    • If you are having trouble getting the characters to display with your installed fonts, try installing Junicode (Junius-Unicode). This font was designed by University of Virginia medievalist Peter S. Baker specifically for medieval scholars. It not only easily handles all the characters necessary for Old Norse and Old English, but also displays them quite nicely.
  • MEGSE at UNM offers these keyboards for free. If you distribute them, please credit this website (MEGSE at UNM) and Douglas Ryan VanBenthuysen.

The Keyboard Maps

Basically, you can insert all the special characters by first typing the ' (Apostrophe) key, then pressing another key. To type an ' as usual, simple press the ' key twice.

Just to make sure my nominclature below is clear:
Ā: ' → A
Should be read as:
To make a capital A with a macron (Ā), first press the ' (Apostrophe) key, then type a capital A as you normally would (Shift + A or A with Caps Lock down).

Old English

': ' → '
ā: ' → a
Ā: ' → A
æ: ' → 1 (chosen for its proximity to 'a')
Æ: ' → !
ǣ: ' → 2
Ǣ: ' → @
ē: ' → e
Ē: ' → E
ī: ' → i
Ī: ' → I
ō: ' → o
Ō: ' → O
œ: ' → 0 (that's the zero)
Œ: ' → )
œ̄: ' → 0 → ' → - (dash) (won't work as often as others)
Œ̄ (macron on top, hard to see): ' → ) → ' → -
ū: ' → u
Ū: ' → U
ȳ: ' → y
Ȳ: ' → Y
þ: ' → t
Þ: ' → T
ð: ' → h
Ð: ' → H
ƿ: ' → w (I am a ƿynn advocate)
Ƿ: ' → W
ġ: ' → g (sometimes used for palatized g)
Ġ: ' → G
ȝ: ' → z (sometimes used for palatized g)
Ȝ: ' → z
ċ: ' → c (sometimes used for palatized c)
Ċ: ' → C
ć: ' → x (sometimes used for palatized c)
Ć: ' → X
ך: ‎ ' → 7 (For the 'ond' symbol; causes problems; just use a 7)

(These next few only work if the program/font supports "combining" Unicode characters. You can use these as an alternate way to insert the long vowels.)
Mark previous letter with a macron: ' → - (dash)
Mark previous letter with an accute accent: ' → = (equal)
Mark previous letter with an umlaut: ' → ; (semicolon) (just thought I'd throw that in)

Note: the characters whose key combo was not reassigned from the Old English keyboard layout will also work in the Old Norse layout. So, if you want to type a ƿ while using the Old Norse keyboard, you can still use ' + w.

Old Norse

Note that while this keyboard layout has been set within the Icelandic language group, it is still based on the US English keyboard layout (so don't go looking for the Þ where the ? is on your keyboard).

Since I have much less experience with writing and typing Old Norse than Old English, I used the letter forms found in E. V. Gordon's An Introduction to Old Norse, Taylor revision, pages 266-269. If there are any others useful to typing Old Norse, please let me know (megse@unm.edu).

': ' → '
á: ' → a
Á: ' → A
æ: ' → 1 (chosen for its proximity to 'a')
Æ: ' → !
é: ' → e
É: ' → E
ę: ' → 3
Ę: ' → #
í: ' → i
Í: ' → I
ó: ' → o
Ó: ' → O
œ: ' → 0 (that's the zero)
Œ: ' → )
ǫ: ' → 9
Ǫ: ' → (
ǫ́: ' → 9 → ' → = (equal)
Ǫ́: ' → ( → ' → =
ø: ' → 8
Ø: ' → *
ú: ' → u
Ú: ' → U
ý: ' → y
Ý: ' → Y
þ: ' → t
Þ: ' → T
ð: ' → h
Ð: ' → H

(These next few only work if the program/font supports "combining" Unicode characters. You can use these as an alternate way to insert the long vowels.)
Mark previous letter with a macron: ' → - (dash)
Mark previous letter with an acute accent: ' → = (equal)
Mark previous letter with an umlaut: ' → ; (semicolon) (just thought I'd throw that in)

Installation Instructions -- Windows

If you are familiar already with the Windows Language Bar and switching keyboard layouts, you need only download the files above and install them (the installer will automatically enabled the keyboard layout). If you are not familiar with them, these instructions should help. If anything is unclear, please e-mail me at megse@unm.edu.

I. Enable the Language Bar

Note: your language bar may be enabled already. Look at the bottom right (to the left of the clock). If you see EN, your language bar is enabled. Likewise, if you see a small window floating on the screen somewhere indicating the input language, your language bar is enabled. If so, skip ahead to Section II.

  1. Click Start | Control Panel.
  2. Double-click Regional and Language options.
  3. Click the Keyboards and Languages tab.
  4. Click the Change keyboards... button.
  5. Note: You are now viewing what keyboards you have installed. You can add any of the many keyboards that come with Windows by clicking the Add button.
  6. Click the Docked in the taskbar radio button.
  7. Click OK to close the Text Services and Input Languages window.
  8. Click OK to close the Regional and Language Options window.
  9. Note: The Language Bar is now visible on your task bar. You will see EN (assuming your default language is English) to the left of your clock and the system tray.

II. Download and Install the Old English & Old Norse keyboards.

  1. Click the Click here to download the Old English keyboard. link at the top of the page and save the file to your desktop (or other location if you prefer).
  2. Double-click the OldEnglishKeyboard.exe file.
  3. Click the Install button.
  4. Wait for the Installation Complete message to appear (a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on your styem).
  5. Click the Close button.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for the Old Norse keyboard if desired.
  7. Right click the language bar and select Settings....
  8. Two new keyboards are now present: under English (United States) you will see Old English (VanBenthuysen) and under Icelandic (Iceland) you will see Old Norse (VanBenthuysen). You will also see any ohter keyboards you have installed (in my case, US and Icelandic).
  9. If you are ultra-hard-core, you can change your default language by selecting a different language in the Default input language drop down menu.

III. Switching between keyboard layouts

Keep in mind that there is a difference between keyboard layout and keyboard language. The Old English layout uses "English (United States)" as the language and the Old Norse layout uses "Icelandic (Iceland)" as the language.

By default, you switch between keyboard layouts within a language by pressing Control + Shift (at the same time) and between languages by pressing Left Alt + Shift.

So, to switch between the US layout and the Old English layout, press Control + Shift and to switch from either English layout to Old Norse and back, press Left Alt + Shift. (In my case, since I also have Modern Icelandic installed, I would switch between Old Norse and Modern Icelandic by pressing Control + Shift, since they are two layouts within the same language.

You can also assign hot-keys to the various keyboard layouts by following these steps:

  1. Right-click the language bar and select Settings....
  2. Select the Advanced Key Settings tab.
  3. Select the language to which you wish to assign a hot key and press the Change Key Sequence... button.
  4. Click to enable the Enable Key Sequence checkbox.
  5. Use the dropdown menus to select a key sequence then click OK.
  6. Repeat for other languages

  7. Click OK to close the remaining windows

  8. You should now be able to switch easily between keyboard layouts!

IV. Troubleshooting

If you have problems installing these keyboards, you might try installing the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator (linked above), a free tool from Microsoft, and download in .klc files linked above. You can then recompile the keyboards on your own computer and try installing again.

Installation Instructions -- Mac

If you are familiar already with the Mac Keyboard Layout Library and the Input Menu, you need only download the files above and put themin the Keyboard Layout Library. If you are not familiar with them, these instructions should help. If anything is unclear, please e-mail me at megse@unm.edu.

Note: These instructions are somewhat less detailed than the Windows instructions because I am less familiar with the Mac OS and because the Mac keyboard layout files are much simpler themselves (there are XML files).

  1. Right click the Right-click here to download the Old English keyboard for Mac at the top of this page.
  2. Save the OldEnglishVanBenthuysen.keylayout file somewhere on your computer.
  3. Note: For some reason, when these files are downloaded, the name is sometimes changed appended with .xml. If this happens, you will have to revert the name back to OldEnglishVanBenthuysen.keylayout with no additional extension.
  4. Copy this file to the Finder | Hard Drive | System | Library | Keyboard Layouts folder. You may need to enter administrator credentials.
  5. Note: There are several Keyboard Layouts folders. If you complete these steps with the one listed above the keyboard doesn´t work, try the copying the file to at Hard Drive | Library | Keyboard Layouts or Hard Drive | Library | Keyboard Layouts. Also note that on OS 10.2-10.4, the Keyboard Layouts might be in a slightly different location.
  6. Log in and log out of the computer. (This might not be necessary)
  7. Go to Finder | Applications | System Preferences.
  8. Click the International icon.
  9. Click the Input Menu tab.
  10. Scroll down to find the Old English (VanBenthuysen) keyboard layout.
  11. Click to enable the checkbox.
  12. Ensure that the Show input menu in menu bar check box is checked.
  13. Note: The input menu bar should now appear at the top right of the screen. It will look like the icon of your default keyboard, such as an American flag.
  14. Click the default language icon (American Flag) in the menu bar to select the Old English (VanBenthuysen) keyboard layout.
  15. Repeat the above for the Old Norse Keyboard.
  16. If it they keyboard doesn't work, first try logging in then logging out or restarting. You might also download the Ukelele Mac Keyboard Editor (linked above) and try editing the .keylayout files.




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