TransLit is a keyboard layout for Mac that makes it easier to transcribe and transliterate Sumerian and Akkadian text in Unicode, without resorting to arcane key strings. It is based on the standard US keyboard layout, with the following changes:

  • x → ṭ, X → Ṭ
  • c → ṭ, C → Ṣ
  • v → ṭ, V → Š
  • h → ḫ, H → Ḫ
  • f → ‘, F → ʿ

To write the normal characters (x, c, v, h, and f), hold down ⌥ while typing the corresponding key. To write the Sumerian characters ĝ (or Ĝ), hold down ⌥ while typing g (or G).

To add a macron (ā) to a vowel, type the ;-key followed by the corresponding vowel. To add a circumflex (â), use either the normal shortcut (shift + 6) or the ‘-key (which is next to the ;-key).

For Mac, download the layout here. Move the two files to the folder named Keyboard Layouts into your Library. (To open the Library folder, open Finder, click Go in the menu, and select Library – for older versions of Mac, you will have to hold down the ⌥-key to see it.) Then go to System Preferences, select Input Sources, click on the + sign in the lower left corner, choose Others in the left pane, then TransLit in the right pane, and click Add. Finally, restart Word (or any similar program) to start using the layout. In the latest version of Mac, you can use the 🌐-key at the lower left of your keyboard to switch back and forth between layouts; in older versions, you’ll have to use the layout menu at the top right of the screen.

I am working on creating a version for Windows. If you would like me to create a similar keyboard based on a non-US layout, just let me know.