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Professional Translation Services and Perfect Grammar

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So when you type on a typewriter you use a so-called QWERTY keyboard. This simply means that the letters on the keyboard are not arranged in alphabetical order, but in the way you see on a modern keyboard. Which obviously can drive some people insane that are not so familiar with the position of the letters and spend hours with their fingers eagerly ready to press that one key to create a word eventually.

Professional Translation Services – Between Morse Code and QWERTY

But why is that? Why are they arranged in that particular pattern? It has to do with how the old mechanical typewriters were constructed. There you had the letters attached to little hammers with long handles. They would pop up onto the paper and hit the ink ribbon, which then printed the chosen letters onto the page. If someone was typing very fast, then it could easily happen that the  keys could become tangled up and jam the machine.

Therefore people analysed which letters would appear the most frequent in the English language and would separate these away from each other on the keyboard to avoid the collision of letters while typing. In fact it was Samuel Morse, who invented morse code, that also did this analysis as he needed to needed to see which letters would occur most often in order to assign them the easiest codes. 

So what do you think are the most frequent letters in the English language? If you are just going by words alone, then you will find that E and T were the most common, followed by shared A, I , N, O and S with roughly the same frequency. If you are thinking of English text however, where words are forming sentences that follow a grammatical structure, then this changes as there are a number of common words that are repeated various times in any given English text.  Here it is E and A that occur most often, followed by an equal use of R, I, O, T and N. 

Have you ever noticed that keyboards in other countries have a different order of letters to the QWERTY layout? By now you may be able to work out why that is. Yes, this is because in other languages other letters appear more frequently than in English. So for the same reasons as stated above, keyboards were designed to work with that particular language. In German the most frequent letters are E and N, followed with about the same frequency between I, S and R. 

So while most of us no longer use a mechanical vintage typewriter the keyboard layout however has remained the same and we all still have to find the right keys on it to create words, emails and texts. Happy Typing!

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Transcriptionist and Virtual Assistant. View all posts by Samantha