Re: FYI: A new international keyboard layout based on the German standard layout

From: Erkki Kolehmainen (
Date: Thu Jul 06 2006 - 04:31:39 CDT

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    A couple of clarifying comments:

    Our intent has been to cause the very minimum amount of disturbing
    change to the users of the current regional keyboards (which we expect
    to be gradually replaced by the new ones). Thus, we have made no change
    to any of the present key allocations; we've only added new
    functionality to existing keys.

    We have never meant the keyboard to be used e.g. for fluent typing of
    Vietnamese. If fluency is required (for other than the languages of the
    region or major languages outside the region), switching to use the
    Vietnamese (or whatever, as applicable) keyboard is by far the best
    choice. Thus, ease of use primarily means for us being able to easily
    recall which key(s) to use even for the rare occasions (e.g., in the
    case of Vietnamese, not for entering flowing text but names only).

    Incidentally, the Romanians have both s and t with comma below that are
    in most instances treated as glyph variations of the same with cedilla
    (unless distinct comma below form is required). Since this distinction
    is seldom seen even in any type of Romanian text, we've decided not to
    require e.g. our civil servants to be able to make the distinction in
    the names of people who often wouldn't know themselves which form would
    be absolutely correct.

    With kind regards, Erkki I. Kolehmainen

    Karl Pentzlin wrote:

    > Am Mittwoch, 5. Juli 2006 um 09:12 schrieb Erkki Kolehmainen:
    > EK> I believe that a
    > EK> European, multilingual general purpose keyboard should be intuitively
    > EK> recognizable and - consequently - easy to learn and use.
    > Of course, but what is easier to learn is not always easier to use,
    > and vice versa.
    > I gave the easiness of use the higher priority when in conflict.
    > Just two examples:
    > 1.) To type Vietnamese fluent on the keyboard you mentioned:
    > EK> for the layout
    > you have to be a virtuoso guitar player to play the three-finger accords for the hoi or the breve.
    > Using the Europatastatur from,
    > the only three-finger letter is the relative rare uppercase Ð with stroke, with the D key on the left hand and only the two key combination Shift+AltGR on the right hand.
    > I miss in your goals mentioned in your specs at
    > :
    > Cause as little tenosynovitis as possible.
    > Please do not repeat the mistakes which the original designers of the QWERTY/QWERTZ keyboards made.
    > 2.) Imagine you being not a linguist, but a secretary in a German office (as you may know, the average German speaks a little bit English and no other foreign language.) You have to type some customer names into your form, e.g. "Wałęsa".
    > With your keyboard, you have to get your looking glass, determine the direction which that silly hook beneath the e is bent to, glare at the accents on your keyboard, determine which hook is bent into the same direction, and then press that key (a three-finger accord, again).
    > With the Europatastatur, you simply press the "Universal Comma Accent". The only rule you have to learn is: If you have a s with something below, type AltGr+s when you write Turkish, use the comma accent otherwise.
    > (As it happens, except for the s there are no letters for which more than one of cedilla, ogonek or comma below is applicable in normal office usage - thus the comma accent can be unambiguously assigned.
    > Linguists enter the accent after the base letter and get the free choice.)
    > EK> The approach that we have chosen could easily be adapted for use in
    > EK> other primary language environments as well.
    > Admittedly, my appoach is definitely for German users used to the German keyboards. If I had to do the design for an international user community, I had done a lot of things otherwise.
    > Best wishes from Bavaria
    > Karl Pentzlin

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