Multilingual accented Letters keyboarded with LingoMAIL and Supersigno  

Multilingual accented Letters keyboarded with LingoMAIL and Supersigno

Unicode is a step forward towards displaying many languages on the World Wide Web, but it is only a partial solution because it does not seem to allow users to type special characters off the keyboard for webpages.

The technology to type accented letters off the keyboard in wordprocessing has existed for years. For Esperantists, Supersigno ©, copyright 1994 by Australians Mark and Jeff Hayward, had allowed people to type the accented letters on wordprocessors in Windows 3.1 and 95 © and their successors, if the right typefaces are downloaded.

MOST OF THIS WEBPAGE'S DISCUSSION IS NOW OUT OF DATE.  People wanting helpful up-do-date information are invited to go to the foot of this webpage, and clink links there to visit other webpages.

Ms Word 97 included a method of assigning Shortcut Keys, and then typing Esperanto's six accented letters off the keyboard.  John Massam of Perth only discovered this (on a later version of Word) on 30 Nov 2001, but soon after found that Prof. John Wells of London had been trying to tell the global Esperanto community about it for at least 18 months.  Therefore, much of what follows on this webpage is of historical interest only..

And, since 1998 at least, off-the-keyboard technology has been marketed in an e-mail system by LingoMAIL ™, with the added advantages of covering 31 languages and not requiring any fonts to be downloaded. However, it does not seem to work in Apple Macintosh machines.

If you see question marks (?) on your screen when viewing the following with Netscape -- Ĉĉ Ĝĝ Ĥ ĥ Ĵĵ Ŝŝ Ŭŭ -- the problem might disappear if you click "Back", allow the previous webpage to appear, then click "Forward". If you succeed, Netscape will show Esperanto's accented letters and allow you to print them on paper; and, Internet Explorer 6.0 often leaves the accents off when printing.

Unicode ©, when used with Windows 98, did not require any typefaces to be downloaded, and it displays the special letters in both Netscape Navigator (at times) and Internet Explorer (on some I.E. it won't PRINT the special letters even when coded for UTF-8 Unicode) browsers. A drawback is that it seems to require a ponderous coding system. For instance, to display Esperanto's Ŭ (the special "U" or "U^") requires inserting the six-character code "& # 3 6 4 ;" (including the semi-colon) into the source code, and to display é (the "e acute" which is used in several languages) requires inserting "é" or "& #233;".

LingoMAIL is being used for Esperanto and for 30 other languages, being many leading European languages, including Russian, Ukrainian, and Serbian which have Cyrillic alphabets, plus Arabic and Hebrew, which have "right-to-left" scripts with special alphabetic characters.

(Unfortunately it does not yet cover Hindi and other South Asian alphabetic languages, nor Chinese/Japanese which are ideographic languages.)

And, it does not seem to work on Apple Macinthosh computers.

Esperanto requires six accented letters. If you have Windows 98 or other up-to-date equipment, thanks to Unicode the 28-letter Esperanto alphabet (there is no Q, W, X, or Y) ought to appear correctly below, in capitals and lower-case:

A, B, C, Ĉ, D, E, F, G, Ĝ, H, Ĥ, I, J, Ĵ,
K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, Ŝ, T, U, Ŭ, V, Z.
a, b, c, ĉ, d, e, f, g, ĝ, h, ĥ, i, j, ĵ,
k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, ŝ, t, u, ŭ, v, z.

(Adapted from Curtis Whalen's webpage

For people with equipment which does not show the letters properly above, here are the alphabets in image form:

Esperanto alphabet, 156mm x 33mm, probably 526 x 100, green background looks white on AOLpress, linked - jcm 03& 04 Mar 2000
Esperanto alphabet lower-case, probably 
425x98 pixels, red background, linked to source

Once LingoMAIL is set up, it is fairly easy to use for sending e-mails, because as stated above the special letters are created off the keyboard. To create Esperanto's five circumflexed letters, one only needs to press the circumflex "^" (Shift 6) before the relative letter required. To make the Ŭ or ŭ appear, press the hyphen "-" before a U or u.

Regretably, non-LingoMAIL clients who receive their first e-mail find it a bit of a problem because they have to install a small "reader" before they can read the message. It is best to install it to the desktop, I find. After that, there is no problem when receiving the e-mails.

Supersigno's off-the-keyboard system can be as simple as anyone makes it. Tap the grave accent/tilde (~) key, then the Esperanto letter required, and the accented letter appears in your document.

Returning to Webpages, it must be remembered that there are thousands of Esperanto Webpages that were devised before the Unicode solution became generally accessible. Casual Websurfers who come across an Esperanto webpage might see any of several systems of providing for the six special letters. The Esperantist who reads Esperanto Webpages and E-mails is sometimes amused by the various systems, sometimes mixed in the one document!

Where it is impossible to print the special letters, the "x" system is far and away the best system. There is no "x" in real Esperanto, so the experienced Esperanto reader who sees them immediately knows it represents the accent mark of the preceding corresponding letter.

Others use the "h" after the corresponding letter to represent the circumflex, following Zamenhof, but unfortunately officially no "h" follows the "U" and "u", so that system makes it harder to automatically convert to a different system such as Unicode. Some use the circumflex (^) and tilde (~) before or after the letters, but that breaks up the words and makes reading difficult. Some use an apostrophe ('), but that would be awkward in poetry where apostrophes can be used to represent omitted sounds.

All these systems off the keyboard use hardly any extra disk space, AND they do not require up-to-date browsers, nor special typefaces nor settings. The "x" system is far and away the best of those substitutionary systems.

A number of Esperantists code their pages in a system called Latin-3 and they download sets of special typefaces, which allow them to view Esperanto on Webpages, as it ought to be displayed showing the special letters. Unfortunately, people who have not downloaded the special typeface founts see only strange fractions and symbols instead of the Esperanto letters.

Unicode: About July 2000 I came across the Webpage of Professor John Wells of England, and from it learnt how to use Unicode © to show correct Esperanto. He stated that if a person had the correct letter founts, his method would work in the following Browsers: Internet Explorer 4.0, Netscape 4.03 (for Windows 95) or Tango.

It was necessary that typefaces capable of Unicode be installed, he wrote. You could receive free-of-charge six WGL4- Unicode typefaces from Microsoft. It was preferable firstly to remove your old typefaces -- Times New Roman, Courier New, Arial, Arial Black, Verdana, and Impact -- before installing the new ones, he wrote.

However, the information about new typefaces was out of date by the time I read it. John Wells's webpage worked correctly on the screen on my Windows 98 equipment, without obtaining any new typefaces, for Esperanto and some other alphabets (except that on some I.E. browsers, printing to paper produces unusable results).

For a time I could not understand how to make the Unicode work consistently and properly, without interfering with other systems. After long trial and error I have developed a system that works with Microsoft ™ Windows ® 98, on Netscape Navigator ™ version 4.08 (and successfully on the screen only with Microsoft ™ Internet Explorer v. 4.71.3110).

People using Unix ©, Linux © or other Operating Systems, or Browsers such as Opera © or Mosaic ©, are urged to please tell me how the Esperanto special letters appear on their equipment, by e-mailing me at home on john massam § multiline com au .

After devising a system that worked for me, I present it for review by Esperantist Webmasters, on unicoding.htm. -- John Massam, 04 Nov 2000.

 Esperanto-Ligo de Okcidenta Aŭstralio (Korp.)
 Esperanto League of Western Australia (Inc.)

If you see question marks (?) or squares (), on your monitor when viewing the next line with N.N.:
Ĉ, Ĝ, Ĥ, Ĵ, Ŝ, Ŭ,
the problem might disappear if you press "Back", allow the previous webpage to appear, then press "Forward".
Otherwise, try adjusting your browser settings:
Internet Explorer: View / Fonts / Universal Alphabet (UTF-8), or
Internet Explorer: View / Encoding / Unicode (UTF-8), or
Netscape Navigator: View / Encoding / Unicode (UTF-8), or
Netscape Communicator 4.72: View / Character Set / Unicode (UTF-8), or
similar changes with other versions or other Browsers;
or, sometimes, inexplicably, if the Unicode setting is "on", by selecting "Western" or "Western Alphabet",
and, regretably, sometimes the special letters won't show at all.

See also keyboard.htm for information on KEYBOARDING Accented Letters easily on Word 2000.

More information about CODING ESPERANTO for Webpages is at There is information about UNICODE (two types) and LATIN-3.
LANGUAGES ON THE WEB is an amazing site linking to dozens of languages, and asking help in providing Internet language training.  See it at
The UNICODE™ homepage is at


A small company can transmit 31 languages, including right-to-left ones with unique scripts -- why didn't the big firms do so?

ESPERANTO  inkluziviĝas!   E-POŜTOJ  EN 31  LINGVOJ: Sendu e-poŝtoj en Angla, Araba, Bjelorusa, Bulgara, Ĉeĥa, Dana, Esperanta, Finna, Franca, Germana, Greka, Hebrea, Hispana, Hungara, Islanda, Itala, Jida, Kroata, Latva, Nederlanda, Norvega, Pola, Portugala, Romana, Rusa, Serba, Slovaka, Slovena, Sveda, Turka, kaj Ukraina lingvoj per "LingoMAIL ™" (ne faras kun Makoj) ĉe

ESPERANTO included!   E-MAILS  IN  31  LANGUAGES: Send e-mails in English, Arabic, Byelorussian, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Esperanto, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Yiddish, Croatian, Latvian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Roumanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovakian, Slovenian, Swedish, Turkish, and Ukrainian languages with LingoMAIL ™ (won't work with Macs) at


Click, or write to: Supersigno, c/o Mark Hayward, 21 The Valley Road, Valley Heights  2777  NSW, Australia, or e-mail blinky § pnc com au

Verda Stelo, turnanta, orig 60 x 50  Televid-bendo, ok partoj, $50, tiel vidita cxe Kanalo 31 -- Esperanto por Komencantoj!
* Acxetu nian Esperantan posxtkarton kun bildo de harmonio farita de Cxelina Gates! 5 po $4.

Supren ^ ^  HEJMO  ENHAVO  Traduku  Kunigiloj  Okazajxoj  Libroj  Funkciuloj  Membreco  Kontaktu  Kursoj  Literoj  Tiparoj  Unikodigas  Multlingva  Indigxenoj  Motivoj  Malsupren v v
Top ^ ^  HOME   CONTENTS  Translate  Links  Events   Books  Office-bearers  Membership  Contact  Courses   Letters  Typefaces  Unicoding  Multilingual  Indigenous  Reasons  Foot v v

Verda Stelo, turnanta, orig 60 x 50  Television video, 8 parts, $50, as seen on Channel 31 -- Esperanto for Beginners!
* Buy our Esperanto postcard with Chelinay Gates’ harmony picture!
 Five for $4

This Webpage is mainly in English, but uses Unicode ™ to correctly display the six special Esperanto letters.
Retpaĝoj en "Unikodo™" stilo uzas: "ĉ", "ĝ", "ĥ", "ĵ", "ŝ" kaj "ŭ" (ne: c^, g^, h^, j^, s^, kaj u~).
Webpages in "Unicode™" style use "ĉ" (pronounced CH as in "church"),  "ĝ" (as the J sound in "gem"), "ĥ" (pron. KKH as the last sound in Scots "loch"), "ĵ" (pron. ZH as the "z" in "azure"), "ŝ" (pron. SH), and "ŭ" (W or quick OO).  Note other pronunciations: "c" = TS, "j" = Y, "aŭ" = OW as in "cow," "ej" "aj" "oj" rhymes with "Hey my boy!" and the five vowels are heard in "Are there three or two?"

Hived off "unicoding.htm" using Microsoft® WordPad© on 06 Nov 2000, last modified at home on 17 Feb 2010