I cannot type a Greek accented vowel in emacs.

In Xorg, I use the el keyboard layout and in other applications (e.g. Firefox) the normal way to type an accented vowel (e.g. ά) is, first the colon character (:) then the vowel α. When I do the same (: α) in emacs, I get neither α nor ά. I get no output at all.

I have used M-x menu-set-font to make sure my font does support such characters. I don't know how to debug this problem.

GNU Emacs 25.1.1 (x86_64-unknown-openbsd, GTK+ Version 3.22.11) | X.Org X Server 1.18.4 | Release Date: 2016-07-19 | X Protocol Version 11, Revision 0 | Build Operating System: OpenBSD 6.1 amd64

  • See the Emacs manual, node [Unibyte Mode](), for info about the compose-character prefix C-x 8.
    – Drew
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 22:18
  • If I understand correctly, your system is configured so that Emacs should not be receiving input until after you have typed both characters : and α -- at which point it should receive the single character ά ? What (if anything) does Emacs report when you type C-h k : α ?
    – phils
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 22:49
  • Wild guess and likely not to work (so posting as answer), but does one of GTK_IM_MODULE=xim emacs, LANG=C emacs or XMODIFIERS="@im=none" emacs (or a combination of the environment variables) help with the issue? Alternatively, does pressing AltGr (if you have such a key) at the same time as you press the colon key (and possibly shift) help?
    – aplaice
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 23:42
  • @phils: Thank you for your comment. Yes, I think this is called a dead key it does not output characters on its own but modifies output of subsequent keys. When I tried your suggestion, I got no output from emacs
    – engineerX
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 20:40
  • 1
    Actually I found the solution. It consisted of adding export LC_CTYPE=en_US.UTF-8 to my ~/.profile file before starting the Xorg server.
    – engineerX
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 21:42


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