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Russian Keyboard for US Students

Here is the keyboard layout used on the "Russian for Gringos 2" keyboard. The keyboard is meant for Windows XP, but it will probably work under Windows NT and Windows 2000 as well. 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 2 keyboard layout

Three step installation instructions

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 "My Documents."

Install the keyboard

  • Enter the russianq directory that was formed during the unzip.
  • Click on russianq.msi. That should start the installation procedure. If that doesn't work, double click instead.
  • When you see the installation is complete window (see sample at right), click "Close" and proceed to keyboard activation.

Activate the keyboard

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. Honestly, you'd think that if the instructions say to unzip the file, people would actually unzip the file, but no fewer than four otherwise bright people have told me that the keyboard wouldn't work for them, when in fact they had simply failed to follow the written directions. It drives me crazy. I think I'll move to Canada. I'm not sure that will help anyone read directions and follow them, but I really like Canada.
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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