Usage of access keys in Indic L10n

One of the aspects of Localisation (L10n) which is not being addressed very aggressively in case of Indic L10n is the issue of accelerator keys and keyboard shortcuts.

On the face of it there are two ways of addressing it:

[1] Using access keys in the local language with standard patterns for the menus
[2] Maintaining the same access keys as the English ones

Both approaches have their takers. The first one is generally adopted by nearly all the Indic L10n teams while localising the desktop environments. However, in the long run the second approach might just be something that one would require to look at seriously.

The first approach is already in place for Spanish software where Ctrl+U is the key combination for New (under the File menu) rather than Ctrl+N. This link puts forward the argument wherein the need to keep in sync with the MS-Office shortcuts are put across.

Putting in the English shortcut keys are sometimes an aberration. In the normal case, access keys are supposed to follow the natural flow of the local language. Thus, it could be easier to pick a character in the translation that is easy to remember (or perhaps following the Microsoft or MacOS guidelines). The logic being that consistency is on any day a good thing as it helps people to migrate from one platform to another. Trying to use the same access keys (as the original) makes access keys unnatural for the users of the localised distribution to remember.

In case of Indic L10n, where there is a non-latin script using latin characters as access keys would be a better option as native characters are (sometimes) more difficult to input. The way out in this case would perhaps be using the English access key in parenthesis along side the translation. This would also ensure that a consistent pattern of access keys are used by the users while they are switching between Indic locales and to English and back again.

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