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Existing resources

I could not find any existing keyboard layouts for Chamorro, even layouts available for download. There are minimal changes that need to be made to a US English layout to include all characters found in Chamorro, so it may be that the combination of Chamorro having a small native population and the language not having a radically different orthography didnʼt make it a priority.



Changes to English keyboard

  • Added å and Å as third and fourth level characters for the a key because they are separate letters in the alphabet. However, it is natural for them to be placed on the same key because the only difference is the diacritical mark.
  • Added ñ and Ñ as third and fourth level characters for the n key for the same reasons as above.
  • Replaced the single apostrophe ' with the character representation for a glottal stop ʼ. This is because the glottal stop is a common occurrence in Chamorro, and it would be inconvenient for users to type an additional key to get to a common letter. I moved the single apostrophe ' to the third level position (holding down <rightalt>) instead.

IPA Extension

  • Added ɑ as third level character for the q key and æ as third level character for the w key. This is because they are the IPA transcriptions of å and a, respectively. Because the third and fourth level characters for the a key were already taken up by å and Å, I had to use other keys. Q and w are right next to the a key, and because neither letter is used in the Chamorro alphabet, I figured they would be good locations to put IPA transcriptions.
  • Added ə as the third level character for the e key because it is the IPA transcription.
  • Added ɾ and ɻ as the third and fourth level characters for the r key. There are two allophones of r in Chamorro, and I wanted to keep them both on the same key to avoid confusion.
  • Added ʦ as the third level character for t. It is not the direct IPA translation, but it is the closest single letter approximation of the ʦ sound so I thought the choice to put it on the t key would be natural.
  • For similar reasons, I added ʣ as the third level character for d, ʤ as the third level character for j, and ʧ as the third level character of c.
  • Added ɲ as the third level character for the b key because it was near the n key and the third level of b was not being used for anything useful in the original keyboard layout.
  • Added ʔ as the second level character for the ʼ key because it is a direct IPA translation. Therefore, I had to move " to the fourth level. This makes logical sense, however, because ' and " now both require the <rightalt> key, which was not the case in the simple Chamorro keyboard layout.
  • Added ̈ as the third level character for the 0 key, ́ as the third level character for the - key, and ̂ as the third level character for the = key. All of these are important because the Chamorro grammar I found discussed how accenting is sometimes included in the orthography if the word deviates from the basic rule (penultimate syllable). All three of these require an additional key press to assign the accent mark to a specific character.

Other comments

  • Chamorro has a single letter ch, but I decided to keep this as two separate key presses. One alternative was to replace the c key with a ch, but that would make it impossible to type in English on the Chamorro keyboard, which is not ideal.
  • Same as above for the single letter ng.
  • There are lots of additional third and fourth level characters that are irrelevant in Chamorro yet still available on the keyboard layout. I chose not to delete them because they donʼt get in the way and allow for more options.


Copyrighted with MIT License to Lee Tarlin 2017

  1. Download the cha file listed in my personal github.
  2. Put the cha file in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols. You can use the cp command to do it, and you'll probably need to use sudo too. E.g. sudo cp cha /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/
  3. Add a layout entry in the /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/evdev.xml file for the layout. To do this, edit that file with your favorite text editor (again, you'll probably need sudo), and search for the end of the layoutList section by searching for </layoutList> in the file. Copy a simple layout block from above that line, paste it in as a new layout block (between the last </layout> and </layoutList>and modify it for this layout. You can use something like this:
  4. Save the file, exit the editor, and restart cinnamon. The quickest way to do this is to run cinnamon --replace on the command line.
  5. Go back to your keyboard layout settings, and you should be able to find the layout under "Chamorro" in the list.