Re: Mixed up priorities

From: Otfried Cheong (
Date: Mon Oct 25 1999 - 11:45:12 EDT

> >Probably because the clerks of the Habsburg Empire that
> started using typewriters in Slovakia got them from elsewhere
> and didn't use them to write Slovakian? Because Slovaks used
> Czech as their written language from the 15th to the 19th
> century?
> If Thais could develop their own typewriters, I don't see why
> Slovaks couldn't also do so. At least, as far as technology is
> concerned. If there were other sociolinguistic factors involved
> to explain why they wouldn't have done so, however, that's
> another matter.
> >Come on, if typewriters are any indication of a people's
> cleverness, then the QWERTY system will forever exclude western
> civilization from any claim to intelligence.
> Surely you know of the practical reasons for why the QWERTY
> layout was developed? (Or is the story I've heard repeatedly
> about performance limitations of the mechanisms just a load of
> dingoes kidneys?)

Yes, I know that story. It only shows that linguistic considerations
played a very minor role in the design of typewriters. The hassle of
getting a ch-key with a glyph twice as wide as all the others on a
typewriter not made for this feature would have far outweighed the
small advantage. This doesn't prove that it wouldn't have been the
linguistically right thing to do.


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