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Russian Keyboard for US Students

Here is the keyboard layout used on the "Russian for Gringos 3" keyboard. It is the same as the "Russian for Gringos 2" keyboard except that it has been built to run under Windows Vista. The letter positions are the same as the AATSEEL student homophonic keyboard. The other keys are the same as an American keyboard except that numero symbol () fills the # position, left and right кавычки (guillemets) take the place of the less-than and greater-than symbols on the comma and period keys, and a combining acute accent mark takes the place of the forward slash (solidus). The em dash () is produced by pressing the control key and the hyphen at the same time. The forward slash is produced by pressing the control key and forward slash key at the same time.

Russian for Gringos 3 keyboard layout

Two step installation instructions

Step 1: Download and unzip

Right click on this link to download the file and save it to your hard disk. Then unzip the file somewhere where you'll remember to look for it in the future, say, in "Desktop."

Step 2: Install the keyboard

  • Enter the russianr directory that was formed during the unzip.
  • Click on setup.exe. That should start the installation procedure. If that doesn't work, double click instead.
  • A security warning may pop up. (See right.) Click the "Run" button.
  • The computer may not look like it is responding for a bit. Keep your eyes open for a blinking button on the taskbar and click it. It may have a message to the effect that an unidentified program wants access to your computer (file russianr_i386.msi). Choose the "Allow" button.
  • When you see the installation is complete window (see sample at right), click "Close" and proceed to "Using the keyboard."

Using the keyboard

  • Once installation is complete, you will see a small button with two letters in the lower right hand of your desktop. Most likely it says "EN". That is the language selector. Click on it to choose RU for Russian. That should activate the "Russian for Gringos 3" keyboard. Click on it to choose EN to go back to English.
  • If you have also activated other Russian keyboards on your machine, then next to or under the language selector may appear a small keyboard symbol. Use it to choose which of your multiple keyboard layouts you wish to use.
  • Most likely the key combination Left Alt+Shift will allow you to switch back and forth between the languages. That is, you hold down the left ALT key while tapping the left SHIFT key once.
  • If Left Alt+Shift does not work for you, right-click on the language selector and choose "Settings." Select the "Advanced Key Settings" tab. There you will be able to customize your keyboard preference for switching languages.
  • In the russianr directory that was created during installation there is a file name layout.bmp that shows the positions of the Russian keys next to the English keys. You can print that out for reference or view the file directly or using the index.htm file that also displays it.

Known issues

Installation fails
You must not skip the instruction to unzip the file. Installation will not work from inside a zip file. If you see a zipper on the folder, that means it's still zipped.
The font changes when going from Russian to English or vice versa
When working in MS Word 2003, switching from Russian to English may cause the font to switch from the current font to another font. Apparently this version of MS Word relies on language data embedded in OpenType fonts to determine whether the current font supports the input language selected by the language bar, and it automatically switches to other fonts when the expected identifiers are missing. To work around this problem, limit yourself to using fonts that have language data embedded in them; I've observed no difficulties when working with 2003's versions of Times New Roman or Arial. I suspect that all the OpenType fonts that come with the current version of MS Word have that data embedded. This "feature" is particularly irritating when dealing with older fonts. One way to work around this feature is to use the MS Keyboard Layout Creator to make a font with an intentionally mislabelled language feature. Thus for me to work with Russian characters under the SIL Gentium font, I created a version of this keyboard that labels Russian characters as Canadian English. It's a hack, but it works.
Ctrl-hyphen and Ctrl-slash don't make em dash and slash
Some programs like MS Word bind the control keys to their own functions. To make the em dash and the slash work in Word, you must either unbind the keys using the customize function, or else access them using Word's own shortcuts which you can find using the menu sequence Insert/Symbol/Special Characters.

Updated September 9, 2007

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