Language Translation Tables

The Duxbury Braille Translator produces braille in over 145 languages world-wide. This help page gives the technical details of the inner workings of the DBT braille translators, and how to make some very specific choices. To get a broader overview of a language (and to better understand the choices), check the List of DBT Supported Languages, and pick the language you are working on.

Another resource is the List of DBT Templates. Note that some languages have multiple DBT templates, some DBT templates handle multiple languages.

General Notes about Language Tables

[Note: The DBT Codes in these topics are shown in red purely for clarity.]

The "Document: Translation Tables" menu allows you to select the base language and the "jurisdiction" that is to be applied when translating your document to braille. For example, you may select English as a base language, with "American Pre-UEB" as the jurisdiction. That means not only that English is presumed to be the basic language of the document, but also that the braille codes established by the Braille Authority of North America (BANA), along with any specifically American usage conventions, are to be applied throughout -- even for any "secondary" languages that may appear as included passages within the document. Likewise "English/Unified (UEB)" indicates that the rules and conventions of Unified English Braille are to be followed.

All of these tables remain subject to change, because the various national authorities often refine or extend the corresponding braille code rules, and also because improvements are undertaken to conform to the latest rules more closely. Consequently, in any given version of DBT, the braille tables typically vary in certain respects, such as which secondary (embedded) languages are allowed, which characters may appear in the file, and whether math or other technical notation may be entered.

The table of supported languages below provides links to the individual descriptions for each supported language. Each language description is divided into several sections, and we provide some explanation of those sections here. The emphasis in the individual language descriptions is on print-to-braille translation, because that is the most commonly used direction and usually the first made available.

The section "Special Requirements and Limitations" generally notes when true braille-to-print translation is not available or when it is more limited in scope than the print-to-braille direction. This section also notes issues with special characters and language-specific considerations.

The section on "Secondary Languages" lists which languages are supported within the base language. To switch into a secondary language requires using the DBT [lng~...] code. The initial language of a file is assumed to be the base language of the table, so no [lng~...] codes are needed at all for files that are entirely in the base language. The general rule is that a plain [lng] code, i.e. one without a parameter designating a specific language, or an [lng~...] code for an unsupported language, implies reversion to the base language. In many cases (as long as the character set is supported), it is also possible to enter passages in secondary languages without explicit switching, although it is usually a good idea to switch to grade 1 if not in that contraction level already. The necessity to switch, or not, is partly governed by the rules defined by the applicable braille authorities. For example, in an English document being transcribed according to American (Pre-UEB) usage, it is normally not necessary (and in fact inappropriate) to switch to another language just for the duration of a word or short phrase presented as an Anglicized expression, such as, "I had a tÍte-a-tÍte with my brother."

Just as the assumed initial language is the base language for the table, the assumed initial "grade" (level of contraction) is the highest grade supported in that table, e.g., grade 2 in the English/American table. Whether that grade applies not only to the base language but also to any secondary languages depends on the extent that contractions in secondary languages are allowed by the braille authorities for the base language and jurisdiction represented by the table. As an example, at this writing (mid 2016), the English/American (Pre-UEB) custom is to transcribe French in grade 1. So, when using those tables, text marked as French is always done in grade 1 even though grade 2 mode remains in effect.

Another section of the language descriptions lists the DBT translation codes supported. Those codes that have no further explanation function as documented in the standard "Codes Quick Reference" under the Help menu.

The "Characters Supported" section lists the characters only in broad groups, as detailed lists would be impractically long and subject to frequent change. If detailed information is needed, a good way to obtain the information would be to copy-and-paste any relevant portions of the "Character List" document (under Help) into a short trial document, and then, having selected the table of interest, translate the document to braille. (In some instances, it might be necessary to select a math or computer-notation context, or a particular secondary language, to set up the translation situation of interest.) Essentially the same advice applies when importing from word-processor files and the like: If you are concerned about unusual characters that may appear in a document, try a short document containing those characters. The braille output for a character that is not supported is typically the same as an asterisk (*), e.g. dots 35, 35 in English, sometimes followed by another arbitrary braille character or short sequence.

The term "ASCII printable" means all the non control characters in the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), or in other words all those in the range D+20 through D+7e in the Character List. These include all Roman-alphabet letters in both cases, ordinary punctuation marks typically used in English, the dollar sign, and a few other symbols with primarily technical uses. Most translation tables support the basic ASCII characters. However, as with the other named character groups, some ASCII symbols may not be supported in a given table or a particular context thereof -- in fact, there may not be any defined braille equivalent given in the associated braille code.

A "Select Contractions" section is included only for those tables that provide that option.

Finally, the "References, History and Credits" section discusses the origins of the language table and its major relevant documents. However, it must also be said that there are influences too numerous to list that play some role in ongoing development. Duxbury Systems is indebted to all of these in its efforts to keep the translation tables up to current braille standards.

Is Your Language Missing or Does It Need Updates?

In its latest versions (DBT for Mac BETA 5 and 12.2), DBT supports over 145 languages. The generally high accuracy of these language tables is largely due to the help and co-operation of braille users around the world, and their help is gratefully acknowledged. However, errors can occur, and we are most anxious to correct any which are found.

We are also keen to add new languages for the benefit of braille users world-wide. Adding a new language requires the fullest possible description of the braille code, together with a reference to any organizations who have formally approved the code.

Please contact us at languages@duxsys.com if you would like to provide information on current errors or potential new braille language tables.

Table of Languages in 12.2 and DBT for Mac BETA 5

The table of supported languages below is alphabetically ordered by the name of the language in English (see the third column).

Region Table Designator Language
Africa afr Afrikaans
Africa afr-x00 Afrikaans (pre-Unified)
Europe sqi Albanian
Africa amh Amharic
Asia, Africa ara Arabic
Asia, Africa ara-x02 Arabic (pre-2002 rules)
Europe hye Armenian, Eastern
Europe qhy Armenian, Western
Asia asm Assamese
Asia awa Awadhi
Asia aze Azerbaijani
Europe bel Belarusian
Asia ben Bengali (Bangla)
Asia bho Bhojpuri
Europe bos Bosnian
Europe bul Bulgarian/Uncontracted
Asia mya Burmese
Europe cat Catalan
Asia ceb Cebuano
Asia cmn Chinese/Mandarin
Asia yue Chinese/Yue (Cantonese)
Asia ctg Chittagonian
Europe hrv Croatian
Europe cym Cymraeg (Welsh)
Europe ces Czech
Europe dan Danish
Asia prs Dari
Europe nld Dutch
Asia dzo Dzongkha
Europe qqp-ebu EBU Pharmaceutical
America eng-xna English/American
America eng-xnat English/American Textbook
America eng-xnate English/American Textbook (Distinct Emphases)
Pacific eng-aus00 English/Australian (pre-Unified)
Europe eng-xuk00 English/British (pre-2005 rules)
Europe eng-xuk English/British
Africa eng-zaf00 English/South African (pre-Unified)
America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific eng-xueb English/Unified
Europe eng-xukmoon English/Moon
America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific epo Esperanto
Europe est Estonian
Africa ewe Ewe
Asia fas Farsi (Persian)/Uncontracted
Asia fil Filipino
Europe fin Finnish/Uncontracted
Europe fra-fra00 French (pre-Unified)
America fra-xqu French/Quebec (pre-Unified)
America, Europe fra-xuf French/Unified
Europe kat Georgian
Europe deu German
America grc-a Greek (Classical/American)
Europe ell Greek (Modern)/Uncontracted
Asia guj Gujarati
Asia bgc Haryanvi
Africa hau Hausa
Asia heb-isr Hebrew/Israeli Uncontracted
America heb-usa Hebrew/American Uncontracted
Asia hil Hiligaynon
Asia hin Hindi
Europe hun Hungarian
Europe ise Icelandic/Faroese
Africa ibo Igbo
Asia ilo Iloko
Asia ind Indonesian
America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific qip IPA Braille
Europe gle Irish Gaelic
Europe ita Italian/Uncontracted
Asia jpn Japanese (Kana)
Asia kan Kannada
Asia kaz Kazakh/Uncontracted
Asia khm Khmer (Cambodian)
Asia kir Kirghiz
Asia kor Korean
Asia kur Kurdish
Asia kru Kurukh
Asia lao Lao
Europe lat Latin/Uncontracted
Europe lav Latvian/Uncontracted
Europe lit Lithuanian/Uncontracted
Europe ltz Luxembourgish
Europe mkd Macedonian
Asia mag Magahi
Asia mai Maithili
Asia msa Malay
Asia mal Malayalam
Europe mlt Maltese
America qmt-xnem72m Math Notation/Nemeth (1972 math mode)
Asia mar Marathi
Asia mni Meitei (Manipuri)
Asia mon Mongolian
Europe srp-mne Montenegrin
Africa nde Ndebele
Asia nep Nepali
Africa qng Nguni (Xhosa or Zulu)
Europe nor Norwegian
Asia ori Oriya
Asia pan Panjabi
Europe pol Polish
America, Europe por Portuguese/Uncontracted
Asia pus Pushto
Europe ron Romanian/Uncontracted
Europe, Asia rus Russian/Uncontracted
Asia sck Sadri
Asia san Sanskrit
Asia sat Santali
Europe srp Serbian
Asia snd Sindhi
Asia sin Sinhala
Europe slk Slovak
Europe slv Slovenian
Africa som Somali
Africa sot Sotho (Southern and Northern (Pedi))
America, Europe spa Spanish/Original
America, Europe spa-xre Spanish/Reducida
Africa swa Swahili
Africa ssw Swati
Europe swe Swedish/Uncontracted
Asia syl Sylheti
Asia tgl Tagalog
Asia tgk Tajik
Europe tat Tatar
Asia tam Tamil
Asia tel Telugu
Asia tha Thai
Africa tig Tigrinya
Asia bod Tibetan
Africa tso Tsonga
Africa tsn Tswana
Europe, Asia tur Turkish
Asia tuk Turkmen
Europe udm Udmurt
Europe ukr Ukrainian/Uncontracted
Asia urd-ind

Urdu/Indian

Asia urd-pak Urdu/Pakistani
Asia uzb Uzbek
Africa ven Venda
Asia vie Vietnamese/Uncontracted
Africa xho Xhosa
Africa yor Yoruba
Africa zul Zulu