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I tried to install the Arabic keyboard on my Windows 10 laptop, but I've realised that there are over a dozen keyboards for different varieties of Arabic. I'm just trying to learn MSA, not a specific dialect. But there doesn't appear to be a non-country-specific Arabic keyboard. So I'm wondering which keyboard I should download. The options are as follows:

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Are these all the same? Is there any variation in the keyboard layouts? Or is there one layout that is most appropriate for an Arabic beginner? In other words, which keyboard layout most closely resembles - in its form and layout - what you'd use for Modern Standard Arabic?

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    I'm worried that this question might come across as being opinion-based, but it's a good question at its core and I think it deserves to stay open. – fi12 Mar 26 '17 at 20:05
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    Yeah, I was worried about that too, but I don't think it's opinion based. The question is not "Which one is best", the question is "Which keyboard most closely resembles MSA in its function or usage?" – Lou Mar 27 '17 at 1:21
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It doesn't matter which keyboard type you use the main difference is the latin layout: azerty, qwerty or qwertz. In all cases all Arabic letters and diacritics would be present on the Keyboard in any case!

For example, a Moroccan (Arabic) Keyboard will be on or beside a French Keyboard (azerty), while in the middle east or gulf states it would be an English (qwerty) Keyboard, if you use a German Keyboard it would be qwertz, so according to that there might be some differences where you may find the Arabic letters on the Keyboard (see also wikipedia)

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I don't think there's a difference in keyboards. There are maybe differences in word usage (but even though Arabic is my L1, I don't know of any). Dialects are another story since they're almost completely different in each country. I personally use this since I don't know the arabic keyboard by heart: http://www.lexilogos.com/clavier/araby.htm It is quite simple and intuitive. Good luck.

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There are minor differences between existing standard keyboards for typing Arabic. However,the common problem is that all of them are difficult to use even by native speakers of Arabic. No serious attempt has been made to improve this key question. One very promising design that could replace actual standards can be found in this link: https://www.tavultesoft.com/keyman/downloads/keyboards/details.php?KeyboardID=714&FromKeyman=0

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    Welcome to language learning stack exchange. As is, your answer reads like spam; could you disclosure your affiliation with the linked design, if any? – Tommi Mar 16 '18 at 11:52
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The main difference is between PC and Mackintosh, not between dialects. The PC layout is universal across every OS (Windows, Linux, etc.) whereas the Mac is only unique to iOS/MacOS/OSX.

However, you can enable the PC layout on Mac. It just won't map exactly to what's available on a built-in Arabic Mac keyboard. Most of the letters will be there, but those on the periphery are mapped differently, and so are the diacritics.

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There are three Arabic keyboard layouts in Windows 10: Arabic (101), Arabic (102) and Arabic (102) AZERTY. Anyone of them can be used independent of which language you choose (I chose Egyptian - see below for reasons). To access the keyboard options:

  1. You have to install an Arabic language to be able to select an arabic keyboard layout .
  2. After a language has been installed, click on it in the Windows languages list and click Options.
  3. Check out the section Keyboards to choose among the layouts mentioned above (Arabic (101) was the one installed by default).

The differences between the keyboards (source):

The basic choice is between Arabic 101 and Arabic 102 (these numbers refer to the number of keys). The main difference is in the position of the letter dhal, which is on the far left above the tab key in the 101 version and on the far right in the 102 version. For bilingual use, the 102 keyboard can be bought with its Roman letters in the normal English QWERTY arrangement or the French AZERTY arrangement which is favoured in North Africa.

Note that Windows 10 seems to use arabic numerals (1,2,3,4,5) for all keyboards unlike for example Android phone where one of the biggest difference between the different layouts are the numerals: most eastern dialects use the Eastern Arabic numerals (٠‎ ١‎ ٢‎ ٣‎ ٤‎ ٥‎) while most of the western dialects use the Arabic numerals.


As the language I ended up choosing Egyptian. Not because the keyboard would be in any way different but Egyptian Arabic seems to be the most common dialect (~65,000,000 speakers according to Wikipedia). Also from Wikipedia:

The 94 million Egyptians speak a continuum of dialects, among which Cairene is the most prominent. It is also understood across most of the Arabic-speaking countries due to the predominance of Egyptian influence on the region as well as Egyptian media including Egyptian cinema which has had a big influence in the MENA region for more than a century along with the Egyptian music industry, making it the most widely spoken and by far the most widely studied variety.

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