Monday, January 23, 2012

Mix-up Monday: Keyboards (US Keyboard vs. German Keyboard)

When you move to a new country you usually prepare for the big things...different language, different food, different money, etc. The funny thing is that the stuff that ends up really sticking out and bugging you turn out to be the little things. Perhaps it is because it is small so it catches you off guard. One of these things for us turns out to be keyboards.

QWERTY Keyboard
Have you ever gone to a foreign country and tried to check your e-mail on another computer? Of course if the programs are in a different language it leads to bit of a challenge but the interesting thing is that if you need, for example, to check gmail you know gmail and it does not matter what language it is written in. Username, password, and login are in the same place as usual and you can do it without much thought. But then this think you are on a roll, no problem got my e-mail, and then you try to find the @ sign and bam! It is much harder than you thought.

We have both spent many minutes searching for the @ sign on computers and trying to figure out exactly what combination of buttons you need to push to make it show up. She has even given up at times, finding somewhere it is already written and copying and pasting it to where she needs it.

Even after years in Germany she still has to stop and think when she wants to use certain symbols. Apparently, typing becomes so natural that trying to to break the patten takes a lot of work.

A typical American keyboard
There are two major differences between a German and America keyboard. First, a German keyboard has special letters not used in English (ä, ö, ü, ß). This changes the layout of the keyboard a bit but it typically does not get in the way. When he tries to use her American computer he has to write these letters out which is pretty common in Germany (ä = ae) or ask her (even though he has asked her hundreds of times before) how he can make the letters with her keyboard (only possible because she has it set to international where pushing a pattern brings up new letters... a + " = ä). This difference, however, is not the big one that catches us both off guard all the time and unless we are consciously making a big effort, we get wrong all the time.
The most important differences between a German and American keyboard (

The keys Y and Z on the American versus German keyboard are switched. These are the only two switched letters on the entire keyboard and it seems like it would rarely be a problem, yet apparently Americans love the letter Y (Of course, it is a problem for him too but these letters are not as common in German as Y is in English). It is really obvious when she is typing on his computer. It goes something like this... Todaz was the first daz of the new zear. Then you hear a, "Ugh, I hate your stupid computer!!!" It wouldn't make a difference if she used the keyboard every single day...her fingers know where Y and Z should be and it does not want to give it up. After a few minutes it is not so bad, but those first few minutes are killer for her!

The use of a German keyboard has also shown her how many mistakes she makes (even when typing reasonably well) and how often she needs to use control + Z for undo. The mistakes really stick out when she has to stop, look down at they keyboard and remember that no, control Y was not what she was going for.

Luckily, he has his computer and she has hers...and hopefully, with a little more practice, we will both be bilingual typist :)

I am sure there are plenty of worse keyboards to learn to type with. What's your experience?

1 comment:

  1. In AZERTY, there will be many more mistakes due to A shifting.