Long story short: I want to be able to write Latin on my phone, but I don't know how to best do it.

Short story long: I have an Android (version 6.0.1) phone and I want to write in Latin. Writing Latin is technically possible, but I would prefer to have it as a separate input language. I mainly write Finnish and English currently, and I can easily switch the input language by swiping the space bar. Changing the language does two things: It adapts the keyboard and it changes the dictionary. The English (or Finnish) keyboard is fine, but I don't want to mess with the dictionary.

I dislike writing on the phone, so I really appreciate offers to fill or correct a word while typing. That doesn't work if I'm not writing in the selected language. What's far worse, the device learns new words as I use them, and the dictionaries become far less useful if I mix different languages together. That's why I would like to add Latin as a separate language.

The phone has a long list of possible input languages I could install, but Latin is not on the list. I see two options:

  1. Find a Latin input thing somewhere online and install it. I don't know how to add new options to the list.
  2. Create a blank language. It's perfectly fine if I can start a "new language" using the English keyboard and a custom name. I can build the vocabulary over time myself as I use it.

The problem is that I don't know how to do either of these. Could someone help?

Comment: This question is experimental; we haven't had this kind here before. It is very much about using Latin language, so I think it is on-topic. It might work better on some other SE site, but that does not make it off-topic here — this is information I would like Latinists to find easily. And most importantly, this is a question I really want to see answered. However, anyone is welcome to disagree with the suitability of this question here. Extended commentary on it should rather be taken to meta or chat, but sharing opinions in comments here is of course allowed.

  • I wonder if this also exists for the iPhone iOS and Windows, as that would be really interesting... – Sam K Nov 30 '17 at 0:16
  • @SamK Those two questions would be very good to have here. I'd be happy to see more questions around these topics. – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 30 '17 at 1:36

Some quick fiddling on my own Android phone revealed that I have an app installed called GBoard which does have a Latin option. So yes, it is possible, but I haven't used it at all so I have no information how well it will handle the variation in endings of nouns and, even worse, verbs.

I'm not sure if this is installed by default on my or all Android phones (I have a OnePlus Two), but it is available on the Play Store.

If you require more info than this, please tell me in a comment and I can adapt my answer.

Small update after some basic experiments, i.e. sending texts to random friends: it works reasonably well for common verb forms and will understand hints like prepositions, but it has problems with the -ne enclitic and it had strong opinions about less common verb forms like dixeramus.

  • This looked promising, and I ended up downloading it. It has worked well so far, and adding Latin worked well. – Joonas Ilmavirta May 7 '17 at 4:27

Multiling O Keyboard is a light and fully customisable keyboard, which provides a Latin dictionary.

Apparently, you need to install that app, and then select the Latin plug-in.

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  • For some reason this app looked slightly less appealing to me than the other suggestion, but this one looks good too. Thanks for the answer! I'm glad that we have resources like this on this site now. – Joonas Ilmavirta May 7 '17 at 4:28
  • @JoonasIlmavirta You are welcome! Btw, did you try it out? My phone is a bit too old for these stuff, and not that I would be using Latin anyway (not yet). – luchonacho May 7 '17 at 7:25
  • No, I didn't try it out. I looked at screenshots, descriptions, and user comments for both apps and decided to try the one that looked (slightly) better. I might try it out later. I hope someone tries this one out, too, and shares the experiences. – Joonas Ilmavirta May 7 '17 at 19:12
  • Not that the plugin is only necessary for the spellcheck (which is of course what Joonas is asking about in the end, although the title did confuse me). For really just writing Latin you just select the Latīna layout very easily in a second. And then you can write laudāmus, cœruleus or fēminæ. – Vladimir F Jan 29 '19 at 12:08

If memory is an issue and you do not want to install more apps on your phone, a memory-light alternative, is to install the Māori keyboard through your phone’s settings, as this gives access to macrons. Some standard phone keyboards could also include Latin; Microsoft Swiftkey is one such. Here are some rough steps on Android for Microsoft Swiftkey:

  • Go to Settings → System → Language and input data →
  • Virtual keyboard → Microsoft Swiftkey keyboard →
  • Next, choose Languages →
  • Add Latin keyboard. (Māori is also available here.)

As a side note: Installing Māori keyboard in Windows has proven to be the easiest way to access macrons there.

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