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Screenshot of keyboard layout

This wiki discusses the creation of a keyboard for transcribing Bikol, which includes all the IPA symbols for the sounds of Bikol, including native sounds and sounds from loanwords (predominantly Spanish and English). Due to the similarities in their phonemic inventories, this keyboard is also sufficient for use in Filipino, other Bikol languages, and likely many other related Philippine languages.

The keyboard is available for download on GitHub.

Existing Resources

There are no existing keyboards specifically for Bikol that I have found, but the Bikol orthography is derived from that of Filipino/Tagalog and contains no extra characters.

On Linux, there are several Filipino keyboards, and most come with a corresponding Baybayin layout:

  • Filipino
  • Filipino (Capewell-Dvorak)
  • Filipino (Capewell QWERF 2006)
  • Filipino (Colemak)
  • Filipino (Dvorak)

On Windows, there are options for a Filipino keyboard and an English keyboard specified for the Republic of the Philippines.

On iPhone, the Filipino keyboard comes with QWERTY, AZERTY, QWERTZ, and Spanish options.

Additionally, I was able to find keyboard layouts for Baybayin, an ancient Philippine script once used for many Philippine languages including Bikol. The script is generally not understood by most Bikol speakers, as it fell out of use in the 19th century, but it is still rarely used artistically and as a symbol of cultural heritage. These layouts can be found on iTunes, and here and here. However, they will likely require the download of Baybayin fonts.


I am using the standard Filipino keyboard layout available on Linux to develop a layout to be used for Bikol IPA transcription. The Filipino keyboard is based closely on the English keyboard, as the orthographies of Filipino and Bikol are subsets of the letters available in English keyboards. Most Bikol speakers also speak Filipino and English, so I suspect this standard keyboard is the most commonly used among Bikol speakers. This keyboard will also be the easiest for me to use, since I'm used to the English keyboard.

Design Justification

The orthographies of Bikol (and Filipino) are subsets of the Latin alphabet used in English, so no Latin characters needed to be added. Of the phonemic inventory of Bikol, there were 8 sounds whose IPA characters were not already on the Filipino keyboard. My default approach was to place these IPA symbols in the 3rd level on the key of their equivalent X-SAMPA symbols, keeping the standard Latin characters in their original places.

In the case of the voiced palatal fricative (ʝ), the 3rd level of the J key was already taken by the palatal nasal symbol (ɲ), so I placed it in the 4th level. The velar nasal (ŋ) has N as its X-SAMPA symbol, but the 3rd and 4th levels of the N key were used for ñ and Ñ. To resolve this, I placed the velar nasal symbol in the 3rd level of the G key, because the velar nasal is often called the 'eng' and is the sound used in the English 'ng', so G was the other logical location for the symbol.

Installation Instructions

The following is a list of instructions for installing this keyboard on Linux.

  1. Download the bcl file in my keyboard repository on GitHub.
  2. Put the bcl file in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols.
  3. Edit the /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/evdev.xml file and add the following code between the last </layout> and </layoutList> in the file:
            <description>Bikol Transcription Layout</description>
  4. Save and exit the file.
  5. Run cinnamon --replace in the command line.
  6. Go back to your keyboard layout settings and add "Bikol Transcription Layout" to your list of keyboards.