Writing in Turkish with US keyboard is easier with Yazgaç

By Hasan Ayaz

The Challenge

Typing in Turkish using the standard English keyboard has been an ever-present challenge for Turkish-Americans. In fact, this problem has been around for so long that most fellow expats have adapted to reading and writing in Turkish sans the special Turkish letters (ç,ı,ş,ğ,ü,ö), and instead replace them with the closest versions available on the US keyboard layout, which are without dots (c, i, s, g, u, o).

However, these replacements already exist in the Turkish alphabet, therefore removal of the accent marks from the special letters causes the text to lose clarity, and potentially its meaning. In fact, omitting the special characters can cause significant ambiguity, specifically with short words. For instance, consider the Turkish word ‘can’ meaning life, versus ‘çan’ meaning bell. Depending on the sentence, the level of ambiguity can vary significantly.  At the very least, it is not appropriate to not use grammatically correct writing. This is why, there have been different approaches to this problem such as copying these special characters from web pages and pasting in your document, or changing the computer keyboard from English to Turkish setting. However, these approaches all have drawbacks. Using web pages come with privacy issues, letter by letter copying is inefficient and slow. Changing the keyboard layout can be confusing as the physical buttons have different labels and one must remember the different layout. For instance, pressing the comma button on the right-hand side of ‘m’ would produce ‘ö’ letter, etc.

There is a new solution now! Yazgaç is a software that can be easily installed on any PC, and will allow you to type special Turkish characters (ç,ı,ş,ğ,ü,ö) using non-Turkish keyboards and correct existing long texts automatically. You can download and install Yazgaç for non-commercial use free of charge at http://hasanayaz.com/yazgac/download.html

Type Turkish on any application or website

With Yazgac running on your computer, you can type special Turkish characters (without changing the keyboard layout) by simply holding ctrl and shift buttons while pressing the dot-less version of the desired Turkish character. For example, by pressing ctrl, shift and c buttons together, you will see ç character where you are typing. This process is independent of the application used; you can type in a Word document, Outlook email, Gmail or any website. Yazgaç will work in the background to make the transformation in real-time and will send the desired character to any active application. Note that, the textbox or applications should support Unicode or Turkish font to have the characters appear properly. Below is the list of default keyboard shortcuts:
ctrl + shift + c = ç
ctrl + shift + i = ı
ctrl + shift + s = ş
ctrl + shift + g = ğ
ctrl + shift + o = ö
ctrl + shift + u = ü

Yazgaç runs on the background and can be closed from the task bar tray icon. You can watch an animated demo at the website: http://hasanayaz.com/yazgac/index.html#Features

Correcting existing text word by word

Copy and paste any text into the main window of Yazgaç. Double clicking on an individual word will produce a drop-down menu that will present the corrected version (see below). Clicking on that menu will replace the clicked word with the selected version.

Simultaneous correction

Yazgaç contains a growing database of such conversions and it will also learn as you make specific word by word corrections. Copy and paste any text, and click ‘Düzelt’ to apply corrections to the entire text all at once. It is necessary to review automated changes to verify correct grammar as the required action depends on the sentence structure and various other factors.

Developer Features and more

Web developers can use Yazgaç to get html compatible codes for special Turkish characters or convert from them. For example, converting to and from text that includes the html character codes can help with developing html pages with Turkish text. Yazgaç can make such conversion back and forth.

çğıöşü ← → çğıöşü


Most of us have foregone the use of some letters specific to the Turkish alphabet because they are not available on non-Turkish keyboards (and ASCII table). Unfortunately, not only does this affect the integrity of the Turkish language for our daily activities, but also causes significant communication problems.

Yazgaç is a free desktop application intended to help users type and/or correct Turkish text using standard US keyboards and without the need for changing their keyboard settings. Hopefully, you will find it useful.