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From Font to Keyboard – Converting Navajo text

June 3, 2012

Have you been in this situation? You want to copy and paste Navajo text from some website only to find out that it is fine when you read it on the internet, but it is a jumbled mess in Microsoft Word. This is because the website was using the Navajo Font to make the diacritical marks. When you paste the text into Word the font is not defaulted to read it in Times New Roman Navajo, just Times New Roman.

If you are aware of how to use the Navajo Keyboard you can go in and change each letter manually. I did this a time or two until I found a better way.

Step One: Obtain your text by copying and pasting it into Notepad. I prefer Notepad because I have found I make fewer mistakes with it. You can also use Excel and Word.

Step Two: Keep the key below handy.

You want to become familiar with the numbers and characters that account for the diacritical marks.

Step Three: In Notepad go to EDIT>REPLACE. You should see the Replace window pop-up. It is Ctrl + H as well. Ctrl +H is also the same shortcut if you use Word or Excel.

Step Four: You will need to input the appropriate numbers and characters in the Find what  and Replace with fields. Most often you will have to input a number into the Find what field and the matching diacritical mark using the Navajo Keyboard in the Replace with. Here is an example with the first number 1, that is supposed to be á. After you have entered the right characters in the right fields, click on find next. You should see the first 1 highlighted.

At this point you can hit Replace. You should find that the 1 that was highlighted has now been changed and that the next 1 in the text is now highlighted.

From here you can replace each 1 by clicking Replace until you’ve gone through the entire text. You might ask why not just Replace All? It’s faster, right? Well yes, but if your text has any numbers that represent actually numbers like in a numerical list, those numbers will be replace as well.  I’ve had to start everything all over after I realized I had changed actually numbers. If there are not a lot of real numbers you can just type them out (one, two, three, etc) and when done, Replace All. When I can I like to Replace All, but only after I’ve made sure there are no actual numbers.

After you have changed the last 1, that is pretty much the entire process. Move onto the next number and diacritical mark. In this case 4 is next.

In Notepad the numbers that have been changed will look smaller than usual. This is normal. Watch out for the number zero. It looks so much like the letter o in some fonts. I would make sure to look out for : ! @ # $  % ^ & * ( ) _ + { }, these might be capital letters with diacritical marks.

After you have scanned and are sure you got everything, make sure to save your work.

When everything looks fine I like to copy and paste the completed text into Word to make sure I can copy and paste everywhere.

I hope this helps. If there are any questions leave a comment below.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2012 8:40 pm

    That was a great post. I really enjoyed it very much. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Enjoy writing? We would love for you to join us!

    Writers Wanted

  2. eddie permalink
    June 3, 2012 9:24 pm

    how do do say…. walk in beauty

    • eddie permalink
      June 3, 2012 9:25 pm


    • June 4, 2012 11:36 pm

      Hmm. I don’t translate, but this is a common phrase. Most likely it is this Nasha hozho
      I would ask in Facebook (Navajo Renaissance or similar) to get the Navajo community to confirm.

  3. December 12, 2012 7:08 pm

    i don’t understand why there’s no navajo translation online but the internet has many for other languages.. why is this so difficult?! ( ._.)

    • December 12, 2012 10:50 pm

      Do you mean something like Google Translate for Navajo>English or English>Navajo? Programs like this are actually pretty difficult to create. I can’t imagine what kind of team you would have to gather to accomplish something like this, not to mention expensive.

      That being said… it can be done, but to answer your question, why has it not been done? My best guess would be that there is little interest and seemingly no use or need. A system like this would be helpful, but I would put it at the bottom of my priority list for now.

      I hope this somewhat answers your question.

  4. February 11, 2013 12:24 am

    Magnificent site. Plenty of helpful information here. I am sending it to a few pals ans also sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you on your effort!

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