Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 25th Oct 2012 14:52 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, one of its most prominent and most controversial features was the on-screen keyboard. In as world dominated by devices with physical keyboards, it was seen as a joke, something that could never work. We know better by now, of course, but while I still prefer the physical feel and clicks of a real keyboard, a recent new endeavour of mine has made me appreciate the on-screen keyboard in a whole new way.
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Comment by Chris_G
by Chris_G on Thu 25th Oct 2012 15:32 UTC
Chris_G
Member since:
2012-10-25

汉字是很难

How do you say, "I'm gonna drop Chinese and take Korean instead?"

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Chris_G
by sgtarky on Fri 26th Oct 2012 16:48 UTC in reply to "Comment by Chris_G"
sgtarky Member since:
2006-01-02

oppa Gangnam style?

Edited 2012-10-26 16:53 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by Chris_G
by Zifre on Fri 26th Oct 2012 20:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Chris_G"
Zifre Member since:
2009-10-04

It's "oppan" and I have no idea why everybody thinks it's "oppa". It doesn't even sound like that...

Reply Score: 2

Not only that..
by osvil on Thu 25th Oct 2012 15:39 UTC
osvil
Member since:
2012-10-25

In fact, what I feel it becomes "killer" with virtual keyboards is how they can easily adapt to the task at hand. Simple stuff as changing the keyboard layout when typing email addresses (making @ easily reachable, for example) or removing the space bar when typing url addresses and having a handy ".com".

It is a pity that people are not expanding this capability further. That is an advantage (maybe the only?) to the classical keyboards.

Personally, people complain a lot about virtual keyboards. Personally I am able to "touch type" on the ipad virtual keyboard easily if placed appropriately. It seems that for me spatial memory is more important than the touch feed back, and the iPad in landscape mode seems to have the "right" spacing.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Not only that..
by StephenBeDoper on Thu 25th Oct 2012 20:39 UTC in reply to "Not only that.."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

In fact, what I feel it becomes "killer" with virtual keyboards is how they can easily adapt to the task at hand. Simple stuff as changing the keyboard layout when typing email addresses (making @ easily reachable, for example) or removing the space bar when typing url addresses and having a handy ".com".


I have mixed feelings about the ".com" button. On one hand, I think it's a clever idea and (as you pointed out) one of the chief advantages of having a keyboard implemented in software. But on the other hand, it doesn't take into account that there are many places where ".com" isn't the most commonly-used TLD.

And yes, I know that most virtual keyboards let you tap-and-hold to get the net, org, and edu TLDs - but none of the virtual keyboards I've used have a .ca option. Being in Canada, most of domains I type in (either in URLs or EMail addresses) use the .ca TLD - making the ".com" key largely useless, at least for me.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Not only that..
by HappyGod on Fri 26th Oct 2012 04:35 UTC in reply to "RE: Not only that.."
HappyGod Member since:
2005-10-19

This is a particular bug-bear of mine. Although the default iOS keyboard does let you hold the .com key to get the .au suffix that I need, why can't I configure it so that I get '.com.au' by default.

Very annoying. The cynic in me guesses that setting the caption of the button to '.com.au' would take up to much space, and they couldn't be bothered reformatting the keyboard to accommodate it!

Reply Score: 3

RE: Not only that..
by Doc Pain on Thu 25th Oct 2012 22:57 UTC in reply to "Not only that.."
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

In fact, what I feel it becomes "killer" with virtual keyboards is how they can easily adapt to the task at hand. Simple stuff as changing the keyboard layout when typing email addresses (making @ easily reachable, for example) or removing the space bar when typing url addresses and having a handy ".com".

It is a pity that people are not expanding this capability further.


The "problem" with keyboards having a different layout than the typical typewriter-like keyboard you find infront of PCs is that typists have learned certain "motor programs" to transform thoughts into keystrokes. There is no visual discovery or even confirmation involved in what the hands do. That makes this approach fast. The QWERT(Z/Y) layout may be suboptimal, but it is established in a way that most keyboards have a layout comparable to the "standard EN/US layout" that makes nearly any keyboard quickly usable. The idea is: "It works the same everywhere."

Dynamically programmable buttons, or "keys changing function according to current context" is nothing new. It's what PF keys (programmable function keys, the 12 or 24 on top) have initially been designed for. Of course the information what they will do is not provided on the keys theirselves - it would be useless as no typist looks at them. Instead this information is presented on the screen.

With the "blurring of concepts" of what is input and what is output on tablets and smartphones, there is the chance to re-invent the PF keys, but not just regarding "key captions", but also location and look. This can be an advantage if properly used, like removing keys that would generate invalid input for a certain task (like space bar for entering URIs, as you've mentioned). This is already done in several ways. As there is no tactile feedback on tablets, you don't have to deal with the "mechanical aspects" of keyboards and how it is important to typists. So the way is free to try new ideas.

An interesting "in-between" approach can be seen in the Optimus Keyboard:

http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/maximus/

http://thefutureofthings.com/upload/items_icons/Optimus-keyboard_la...

(the older version having a better layout)

Anyway, no typist looks at the keyboard. Those people around the typist look at it, and envy him for having such cool hardware. :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Not only that..
by zima on Thu 1st Nov 2012 23:59 UTC in reply to "RE: Not only that.."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The QWERT(Z/Y) layout may be suboptimal, but it is established in a way that most keyboards have a layout comparable to the "standard EN/US layout" that makes nearly any keyboard quickly usable. The idea is: "It works the same everywhere."

Don't believe too much the people who claim QWERT(Z/Y) to be "suboptimal" and so on. Because, for example, many of them are proponents of Dvorak - a position which has some... issues: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard#Controversy
Some others are just trying to sell something (like "really ergonomic" keyboards)

So it's likely safe to say that QWERTY is not really suboptimal - certainly, yes, to the world at large (while Dvorak for example is supposedly meant for one specific language; my 1st language doesn't even really have its Dvorak layout yet; my 2nd language has two semi-official Dvorak layouts...)


BTW, it's probably "the standard Chinese layout" by now ;P
1. they manufacture most of them after all
2. it seems that the PRC & its vast population actually uses a standard QWERTY, physically; which is not entirely uncommon, Poland also does it in practice (hypothetically we have our own layout, but it's mostly ignored when it comes to computer keyboards) - the right Alt acts as AltGr to obtain ęóąśłżźćń.

PS. Tablets can have some for of tactile feedback already. Some phones do have it - using the built in vibration device (and I imagine several of them working in unison could fool our senses in some curious ways, especially if the device was also detecting how it is held - for example with some array of low-resolution capacitance sensors, on its case)

Edited 2012-11-02 00:18 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Are you really thanking Apple for this?
by avgalen on Thu 25th Oct 2012 15:46 UTC
avgalen
Member since:
2010-09-23

I have seen you write story after story about how awful it is when people rewrite history. Don't you realise that people have been using this kind of input forever? There is nothing new about onscreen keyboards as they have been included with desktop operating systems since at least XP. So although I am happy to hear that the onscreen keyboard on a phone is useful for you, I don't understand why you are thanking Apple.

PS. Typing on a regular keyboard with the IME set to Korean will soon be a lot faster than the onscreen keyboard trick you are using now. It is really fun to see Japanese/Chinese/Korean characters built up and combine and autocomplete while you are typing on a physical qwerty keyboard

PS2. I have exactly the same language experience as you with those 6 languages of which french is getting slowly worse and latin/greek are rotting away. My interests in typing in Japanese are because of my future wife

Reply Score: 6

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

"popularising"

Reply Score: 5

tupp Member since:
2006-11-12

I don't understand why you are thanking Apple.

Agreed 100%.

However, to get the point through the reality distortion field, it is important to be very direct and thorough in one's assertion, so I will continue...

From the article:
When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, one of its most prominent and most controversial features was the on-screen keyboard.

Apple did not invent the touch-screen qwerty keyboard -- they were late by decades.

Furthermore, Apple was not the first to put a qwerty touch-screen keyboard on a touch-screen phone.

Likewise, Apple was not first to put a touch-screen keyboard on a tablet.


In as world dominated by devices with physical keyboards, it was seen as a joke, something that could never work.

No. Touch-screen qwerty keyboards were not seen as a joke nor as something that could never work. Use of such keyboards was already well established on PDAs, tablets, slot machines, ATMs, etc.

Touch-screen keyboards were merely considered inferior to tactile physical keyboards for serious/lengthy input, as they are considered to this day.

Reply Score: 2

viton Member since:
2005-08-09

Use of such keyboards was already well established on PDAs, tablets, slot machines, ATMs, etc.

I still feel the pain of crappy tiny on-screen keyboard in my Loox 420 PDA designed for idiotic stylus. Everything was so tiny and COMPLETELY UNUSABLE that I frequently thought of stabbing these idiots in the faces with their stylus.

The screen was the same size as iPhone.
iPhone made it usable with fingers.

Reply Score: 2

leos Member since:
2005-09-21


Touch-screen keyboards were merely considered inferior to tactile physical keyboards for serious/lengthy input, as they are considered to this day.


Were talking about mobile devices here, and the device landscape proves that onscreen keyboards have won out compared to miniature physical ones. Fact is, iOS was the System that made that interface popular and usable with good autocorrect

Reply Score: 3

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

"Were talking about mobile devices here, and the device landscape proves that onscreen keyboards have won out compared to miniature physical ones."

On something tablet sized, I still prefer a miniature keyboard to a touchscreen - just my opinion. Never underestimate the usefulness of tactile feedback!

"Fact is, iOS was the System that made that interface popular and usable with good autocorrect"

It was certainly a great market for apple to get into, but even if they hadn't I think the proliferation of modern tablet devices was quite inevitable given the decreasing costs of the technology. Technology's funny that way... some people would say Bill Gates was essential in bringing computing to the masses, but I think he capitalized on a market that was going to grow with or without microsoft. If microsoft hadn't been most popular, it'd just be one of the other players like apple, amiga, atari, xerox, etc. Alot of them would have been able to fit the "bill" ;)

Reply Score: 2

leos Member since:
2005-09-21

On something tablet sized, I still prefer a miniature keyboard to a touchscreen - just my opinion. Never underestimate the usefulness of tactile feedback!


Totally agree. Given the choice I choose a full size physical keyboard anyday over an on-screen one. I was thinking more about "thumb" size keyboards.

It was certainly a great market for apple to get into, but even if they hadn't I think the proliferation of modern tablet devices was quite inevitable given the decreasing costs of the technology. Technology's funny that way... some people would say Bill Gates was essential in bringing computing to the masses, but I think he capitalized on a market that was going to grow with or without microsoft. If microsoft hadn't been most popular, it'd just be one of the other players like apple, amiga, atari, xerox, etc. Alot of them would have been able to fit the "bill" ;)


For sure. So many examples in history where a technology was independently invented in two different areas just because conditions for it were right.

Reply Score: 2

Priest Member since:
2006-05-12

I don't remember a single Garmin GPS that used a physical keyboard. Most of the people I know who traveled at all owned a GPS with a touch screen keyboard.

It was the standard interface for small portable GPS's before mobile phones started doing it because they had similar requirements of a small device with a large screen and the ability to input data through a full keyboard.

All you can say about phones is they improved on it but even then T-9 for instance existed since the 90's and now works with a soft keyboard is all.

Reply Score: 3

leos Member since:
2005-09-21

I don't remember a single Garmin GPS that used a physical keyboard. Most of the people I know who traveled at all owned a GPS with a touch screen keyboard.


Of course Apple didn't invent the on-screen keyboard. They just made it not suck. The on-screen keyboards on GPS units were horrible (and still are actually). Apple made it not suck by:
- using a capacitive screen. Touch screen keyboards on a resistive screen are completely unworkable because you need too much pressure to activate keys.
- Making it fast and responsive. You can't type quickly if the keyboard can't keep up (again a huge issue on GPS units).
- Making a powerful autocorrect system. This allowed people to type roughly and still get the correct output. I make mistakes on probably 20-40% of the words I type, but the autocorrect fixes the vast majority (some of course it screws up).

All you can say about phones is they improved on it but even then T-9 for instance existed since the 90's and now works with a soft keyboard is all.


Same as with any technology. There is not a technology on this planet that is not building on something previous.

Reply Score: 3

subterrific Member since:
2005-07-10

There is nothing new about onscreen keyboards as they have been included with desktop operating systems since at least Mac OS System 1.0.


FTFY.

http://applemuseum.bott.org/sections/images/screenshots/system1/das...

Reply Score: 2

To tell the truth,
by No it isnt on Thu 25th Oct 2012 15:57 UTC
No it isnt
Member since:
2005-11-14

I hadn't heard Gangnam Style before I followed the link from this story. I had seen it mentioned loads of times, of course, and watched Ai Weiwei's take on it earlier today[1] (with the sound off). I can understand why you like it: it sounds like 2 Unlimited. Oh Holland, how can we forgive you.

As for touchscreen keyboards being more flexible: sure. Their main strength, compared to proper keyboards, is still that they aren't, you know, keyboards.

[1]: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/video/2012/oct/24/ai-weiwei-gangnam...

Edited 2012-10-25 15:59 UTC

Reply Score: 2

I'll be damned
by Alfman on Thu 25th Oct 2012 16:02 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

I never thought you'd be right about this, Thom. I'd have never thought a physical tactile keyboard could be inferior to a flat touch screen one, but your right..if you change alphabets alot (and non-latin writers certainly do), then having an on-screen keyboard might be better than fiddling with multiple keyboards. Or even worse, trying to emulate one alphabet with a keyboard designed for another.


Another (quasi) solution to this problem is keyboards with LCD buttons:
http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/maximus/

In the long term, the best obvious solution will be to give touchscreens some tactile feedback that not only change visible pixels, but can dynamically produce tactile feedback similar to a conventional keyboard so we'd finally have something on par with real keyboards.

It could even do braille, what a killer feature for a touch screen!

Edited 2012-10-25 16:07 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: I'll be damned
by Drumhellar on Thu 25th Oct 2012 17:40 UTC in reply to "I'll be damned"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

That could very well be worth $1,200 that Amazon charges for it...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: I'll be damned
by Alfman on Thu 25th Oct 2012 18:16 UTC in reply to "RE: I'll be damned"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Drumhellar,

"That could very well be worth $1,200 that Amazon charges for it..."

Haha, I presume that was sarcasm. But hold on, did you notice the screenshot where it was programmed with a dedicated porn button? You'll be sold yet! ;)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0014D5S1S/ref=olp_product_details...

Reply Score: 2

Comment by nutt
by nutt on Thu 25th Oct 2012 16:18 UTC
nutt
Member since:
2011-06-22

Bah, get DasKeyboard, (http://www.daskeyboard.com/) and you can change keymap as often as you like. :-)

I don't think forcing you to look at the "keys" to be able to hit them is an advantage of touch-screen keyboards.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by nutt
by Alfman on Thu 25th Oct 2012 16:38 UTC in reply to "Comment by nutt"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

nutt,

Haha, the geek in me wants that keyboard!!

However, it'd be extremely inefficient if I were trying to learn & use a couple different layouts for different languages. When I use french keyboards, I need to see the keys since they're too unfamiliar to me. Remapping a US keyboard using a french layout is too confusing for me.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by nutt
by jebb on Thu 25th Oct 2012 20:21 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by nutt"
jebb Member since:
2006-07-06

Funny, having lived and worked for a number of years in France, the UK, and Germany, I have to switch layouts depending on the language I'm touch typing in...

Reply Score: 1

phoenix
Member since:
2005-07-11

Hrm, you do realise that you can install the same virtual keyboards on devices with hardware keyboards, and can even use the virtual keyboards in landscape? Right?

Virtual, onscreen keyboards are not a replacement for hardware keyboards. They are supplementary, or complementary to them.

Reply Score: 5

I totally agree
by jweinraub on Thu 25th Oct 2012 16:46 UTC
jweinraub
Member since:
2009-06-22

Like you Thom, I thought onscreen keyboards were silly, hard to use over the tiny blackberry keyboard. While I did buy a dual language keyboard (English/Hebrew) on ebay, what if I also wanted to write in the Cyrillic alphabet? What about Greek? I too have a thing for non-latin alphabet systems and then it dawned on me, that is what an onscreen keyboard is best for! It is a shame my Macbook Pro can't have an OLED keyboard so I can change the language on the keys with a quick click of the mouse!

While I still do miss the real tactile feel of a keyboard, I am getting pretty decent at typing and auto-correct seems to help me more than make embarrassing silly corrections, but for typing something comprehensive, I still type best on a real keyboard, even a tiny blackberry keyboard, I can probably write a novel with great accuracy and speed. Just replying back to an email is still annoying, and Siri has been pretty decent with small replies (but doesn't do a good job of punctuation), I can live happily in a world where both exist, and despite the cons of an on screen keyboard, I am sure in the future they can make it better, I think I will take the onscreen over a tiny real keyboard now. The extra real-estate, contextual keyboard changes are all great. I just wish there was an alt-key so I can enter unicode characters without a third party app!

Reply Score: 2

Too much credit to Apple
by Priest on Thu 25th Oct 2012 17:17 UTC
Priest
Member since:
2006-05-12

Once you accept the idea of having a touch screen device moving the keyboard to the screen becomes obvious. My GPS for instance is a flat touch screen device with a keyboard that existed before the iPhone. Even other touch screen phones (with keyboards, like Prada) existed before the iPone. I don't think it is fair to say it was "seen as a joke" before the iPhone.

This is an interesting read: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/02/if-android-is-a-stolen-p...

Apple basically succeeded in picking a good time to enter the market but touch screen phones (even with keyboards) were happening with or without them.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Too much credit to Apple
by Alfman on Thu 25th Oct 2012 18:04 UTC in reply to "Too much credit to Apple"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Priest,

"I don't think it is fair to say it was 'seen as a joke' before the iPhone."

I agree with you, on-screen keyboards are obviously obvious ;) . They were just never popular because 1) touchscreens were relatively expensive for consumers, and 2) they were very inefficient compared to real keyboards for entering data, which is how most personal computers were used a decade ago. Tablets today are less about data entry and more about entertainment, which is the dominant factor in why on-screen keyboards are good enough today when they were not back then. Typing on a virtual keyboard is still dreadfully inefficient. For my needs I'd still prefer a tablet where I can swivel around a real keyboard when I need to.

Never the less, I agree with Thom in that supporting alternate languages & layouts is an advantage for virtual keyboards.

Edit: I share tupp's opinion as well.

Edited 2012-10-25 18:09 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Thom, I'm envious of you
by WorknMan on Thu 25th Oct 2012 17:28 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

I wish I knew German and Dutch, so then I could read all those hard-coded subs on movie downloads ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Thom, I'm envious of you
by MOS6510 on Thu 25th Oct 2012 18:34 UTC in reply to "Thom, I'm envious of you"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Ik zou er niet aan beginnen, Engels klinkt veel stoerder.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Thom, I'm envious of you
by Doc Pain on Fri 26th Oct 2012 21:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Thom, I'm envious of you"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Und Deutsch klingt doof. :-)

Reply Score: 2

I very much enjoyed this article.
by Sabon on Thu 25th Oct 2012 17:49 UTC
Sabon
Member since:
2005-07-06

I very much enjoyed this article. Thanks Thom.

I've often wanted to write a book where I started out in one language and slowly started changing to another language until, maybe 85% of the way through the book it was changed completely to the second language.

There are only a few problems.
1) I don't have enough time because it isn't a high enough priority for me.
2) I don't know a second language (which is a reflection on the U.S. school system of the 60s and 70s and maybe till today.
3) I'm probably not a good enough writer to write a book that enough people would be interested in reading.

Reply Score: 0

What about Turkish?
by earksiinni on Thu 25th Oct 2012 19:25 UTC
earksiinni
Member since:
2009-03-27

Since you expressed an interest in Japanese and are now learning Korean, why not take up a language in the same family (Altaic) that is much closer to your swamp* and easier to learn the orthography of: Turkish.

Like Korean, political/rational reform has determined Turkish's system of writing. The Arabic script was replaced with Latin characters in the 1920's at the behest of Ataturk, first president of Turkey/father of the country/hero figure, who decided that the difficulties of the Arabic script were hindering literacy. I don't think that Arabic script is inherently more difficult to learn than any other, but it was part of his push to make Turkey a European and "modern" country.

However, from an orthography nerd's perspective (who, me?), the switch to Latin script was legitimate because of how Ottoman Turkish in particular used the Arabic script. Unlike English, which is a hodgepodge in its vocabulary but fairly pure in its grammar, Ottoman Turkish is a combination of Turkish, Arabic, and Persian with Western influences in its vocabulary, grammar, and orthography. I should know, I've studied it, and it's a complete mess.

Moreover, the orthography continues to get simpler as vestiges of Arabic script are continually purged away. The "a" with a circumflex over it has traditionally corresponded to the "thin alif" sound, roughly corresponding to the long vowel "a". They've gotten rid of that now, the "they" being the Turk Dil Kurumu, which is something like your Taalunie. Except now with the Islamists in power they are trying to bring back Arabic features into the language, like rearranging the order of the alphabet from "ABCDEF..." to "ABJDHW...", etc.

Just my two cents ;-)

*Just across the border in Deutschland, that is ;-)

Edited 2012-10-25 19:31 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: What about Turkish?
by jal_ on Fri 26th Oct 2012 09:00 UTC in reply to "What about Turkish?"
jal_ Member since:
2006-11-02

Though the Turkish languages are cool, Altaic is of course highly controversial as a family, and there is no similarity at all between Turkish and Korean.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: What about Turkish?
by earksiinni on Fri 26th Oct 2012 09:07 UTC in reply to "RE: What about Turkish?"
earksiinni Member since:
2009-03-27

I will defer to your wisdom on this, but while Altaic is controversial my understanding is that the real controversy is over the so-called "Ural-Altaic" formation, which supposedly would bring in Finnish and Hungarian, as well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ural–Altaic_languages

My point was more that there are major non-Indo-European languages in Europe...or close to Europe, depending on who's counting.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: What about Turkish?
by jal_ on Fri 26th Oct 2012 09:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What about Turkish?"
jal_ Member since:
2006-11-02

I will defer to your wisdom on this, but while Altaic is controversial my understanding is that the real controversy is over the so-called "Ural-Altaic" formation


Well, there's controversy and controversy. Let's just say that Altaic has, afaik, no main stream linguistic approval.

My point was more that there are major non-Indo-European languages in Europe...or close to Europe, depending on who's counting.


Indeed, the Finnish and Hungarian you named are some other examples.

Reply Score: 2

RE: What about Turkish?
by IndigoJo on Sun 28th Oct 2012 15:13 UTC in reply to "What about Turkish?"
IndigoJo Member since:
2005-07-06

The letter C in Turkish is pronounced like the English J, or the Arabic Jeem (or CH if it's got a cedilla, which in Persian is like Jeem but with three dots instead of one). The J is equivalent to ZH (i.e. the S in "television"). So the letter C is in the right place in Turkish, both from a Roman and Arabic point of view.

There are several non-Indo-European languages closer to Thom's home than Turkish, though: Basque and Hungarian. (And Finnish, and Estonian.) But I think he wanted something with another alphabet.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: What about Turkish?
by earksiinni on Sun 28th Oct 2012 18:51 UTC in reply to "RE: What about Turkish?"
earksiinni Member since:
2009-03-27

The move, along with many other Islamist reforms taking place right now, isn't based on technical considerations as any Turk or anyone familiar with Turkish history and politics is aware of. What you've pointed out is merely the pedagogical basis on which the current orthography was adopted: "ABC" was chosen because that is the standard Latin order, but "C" has a "J"-like sound because the third letter in the old alphabet is "jeem" (or in Turkish transliterated as "cim", not to be confused with the Persian "j").

Your post does, however, show how the current government does do an excellent job of selling its reforms as secular to a politically overcorrect West eager for a poster boy. Turkey proves that neo-liberalism works, that a patronizing "Islamic democracy" works (because, you know, Muslims aren't capable of grown-up democracy), and that Muslims won't blow the world up (well, you know, as long as they keep it in Syria). So long as economic interests aren't harmed, we're happy to eat up such "technical" reasons for alarming reforms whose Turkish supporters and detractors alike love and detest for their religious nature, not for any other reason. The head scarves in universities ban thus got reported in the Western media as an issue of civil rights, but obviously no one in the country thought of it that way.

A female American journalist explained when she was asked how she felt as a single woman going through Qandahar and the most dangerous parts of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan by herself. She wittily replied that Afghanistan was a country of men who hate the government with big beards and guns riding around in the back of pick up trucks: her native Montana, in other words. But we all know that Afghanistan isn't Montana. And so Turkey isn't exactly Norway.

Regarding non-Indo-European languages in Europe, I was trying to avoid offending anyone when I used the politic phrase "major language" in my previous follow-up post, but probably his time would be better served form a commercial point of view learning Turkish rather than Basque. But yes, Basque is also an option, as are Hungarian and Finnish. I figured there was at least some subconsciously professional motivation since Thom is a professional translator

Edited 2012-10-28 18:52 UTC

Reply Score: 2

On-screen keyboards
by Luke McCarthy on Thu 25th Oct 2012 20:29 UTC
Luke McCarthy
Member since:
2005-07-06

I was never much of a fan at first, but since I got my Nexus 7 I found I can type really fast on it. And it's certainly better to have an on-screen QWERTY on a phone than a numeric pad (which takes forever to type on).

Reply Score: 1

RE: On-screen keyboards
by phoenix on Fri 26th Oct 2012 22:02 UTC in reply to "On-screen keyboards"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

I think that depends on the phone, the person, and the text. ;) By the time I was looking for a replacement for my w580i (feature phone with a keypad slider), I was getting to be very proficient in T9 typing. I was much faster typing SMS messages on my T9 keypad than my friends were using the onscreen keyboard on their iPhones (1 and 3G).

Of course, my sister-in-law was faster at typing SMS messages on her feature phone *without* T9 (you know, tap the "2" key three times to show "c") than I was *with* T9!

It's all relative to what you know, and how well you know it.

Reply Score: 2

Swype
by shadowhand on Thu 25th Oct 2012 22:19 UTC
shadowhand
Member since:
2005-07-06

I too, used to hate the idea of non-physical keyboard. After I got my Nexus, I discovered Swype and now I can't imagine trying to use a phone with a physical keyboard.

Edited 2012-10-25 22:24 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Japanese
by henderson101 on Thu 25th Oct 2012 23:09 UTC
henderson101
Member since:
2006-05-30

Japanese isn't actually hard to type. Japanese uses a syllabary alphabet to represent the language - every word can be written in Hiragana. But the issue is that Japanese traditionally uses Kanji (Chinese based) for most words, and also Katakana (another syllabary) for loan words. However, a Japanese friend of mine assured me that writing in Hiragana, whilst sometime hard to understand straight away, is not impossible. A lot of kids seem also to use Hiragana to coin new words.

ありがとう => arigatou => a-ri-ga-to-u => あ - り - が - と - う

猫 => neko => ne-ko => ね - こ

Once you understand that all Japanese words are made up of combinations of a limited set of vowels, consonant-vowels and "n", and that a Japanese virtual keyboard can be set to accept Roman letters, typing becomes a breeze. Coupled with the ability to use the Kanji picker, should you be that advanced, typing Japanese is actually dead simple.

Korean does rule though. A school friend and I devised a code based on Hangul that we used for years. I can still half read Korean text if I try, though some letters mean slightly different things to our "code".

The thing you'll find with Korean and Korean grammar is that is is very similar in structure to Japanese. There is no proven direct link between the two, but the grammar is eerily similar. right down to particles of speech and word order. But Korean can be a lot more complex with regards to phonetics and particles.

Oh, and whilst it seems quite dead in the South, North Korea still keeps Hanja alive and well - i.e. Korean Kanji!

Reply Score: 3

Multiple languages input & system locale
by wekncdr on Fri 26th Oct 2012 01:19 UTC
wekncdr
Member since:
2012-10-26

I'm so glad to see that you have pointed out smartphones' multiple input languages as a tool for learning foreign languages!

The on-screen keyboard is very useful indeed. I must also highlight one important feature - built-in support for multiple system locales.

Let's take an Apple device as an example here, from a neutral perspective. No matter which part in the world that I purchase an i-device, I will get the same number of languages support. I can switch my system locale to any language that I want, and I can enable any on-screen language keyboard that I want.

Similarly, Android devices also support all languages. But there are some differences. In terms of input methods, anyone is free to install any languages that they want, so they get to customize their devices.

In terms of system locales, the situation is very different from an i-device. Manufacturers scale down the number of system locale languages depending on which region in the world that they sell the device. It seems to me that they decide the bare minimum number of supported system locales that the users in a particular region would ever want to use as the default language in their devices.

As a person who is learning a foreign language reaches higher levels, she may decide to try using the foreign language as the default system locale, not just being able to input that language. She may do so for fun, for learning purposes, for any reasons. Depending on which brand of Android device she buys, she may or may not be able to set the system locale to a language that she wants, simply because that language is not built-in. As a layman, she may not know of an easy method to install system locales.

Let's take another example - Nokia Symbian feature- & smart- phones. Suppose I purchase a Nokia device from an English speaking country in Europe, I am likely to just be able to use English as the default language and nothing else. It seems that Nokia assumes that I only want to use English as the system language and not some other foreign languages.

I am not sure how many people out there share the same experiences as me. Hopefully, I am not the only one.

Edited 2012-10-26 01:20 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Also character recognition
by benoitb on Fri 26th Oct 2012 10:02 UTC
benoitb
Member since:
2010-06-29

When learning Japanese or Chinese, you can draw the chars stroke by stroke and a list of possibilities narrows down to the point of only the chars you need.

Touchscreen are so useful for any language using non-latin chars.

Reply Score: 2

Customized layout
by PieterGen on Fri 26th Oct 2012 11:08 UTC
PieterGen
Member since:
2012-01-13

There is a customized keyboard layouts world, with websites such as
http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca/carpalx/
http://deskthority.net/
http://mathematicalmulticore.wordpress.com/the-keyboard-layout-proj...
www.colemak.com
http://www.adnw.de/

I learned that a theoretical optimal keyboard takes into account:
- my hands (lenght, strength, mobility of individual fingers, individual preferences);
- the sort of things I type (words, numbers, code)
- the language(s) I type in
- the sort of keyboard I use (on screen, or physical, size..)

So theoretically I would use keyboard A when I type posts on an english languages tech board; keyboard B when I write a Spanish e-mail and keyboard C when I write a novel in Dutch.

The problem is that I might need tens of keyboards, all of which I would have to learn. A compromise would be to optimize against a mix of tasks, say 20% posts on forums in English, 50% numbers, 20% code and 10% novel writing in Dutch. OTAH, if my mix would change (say, I would become a novelist full time), my keyboard would be sub-optimal.

The weakness of Qwerty is that often used letters are far apart. For Swype this is good. Dvorak, Colemak and other layouts put often used letters closer together, but this leads to confusion in Swype....

A practical solution is (I think) to have 2-3 keyboards. For instance a QWERTY-Swype keyboard for onscreen and a Dvorak (or custom layout) for laptop.

Reply Score: 1

Interesting article
by ze_jerkface on Fri 26th Oct 2012 18:26 UTC
ze_jerkface
Member since:
2012-06-22

I didn't consider how on screen keyboards can increase accessibility. Probably helps with economies of scale as well.

Good work Thom.

Reply Score: 2

my humble correction about "indo-european"
by sameer on Sat 27th Oct 2012 08:26 UTC
sameer
Member since:
2012-10-27

sir,

there is no such thing like "indo-european languages". what there is actually, is the aryan or irani languages like farsi, german, sanskrit, dari and others.

the term "indo-european languages" is a british invention ( or at least propagation ) who wanted to prop-up the hindus of india in the 1700's and 1800's against the muslim rulers of india, especially the greatest of south asian leaders - tipu sultan, the tiger of mysore.

secondly, is chinese really a "sino-tibetan language" or is that term again a invention of the british east india company.

lastly, about arabic... it is a beautiful language. only under it, the irani people contributed technologically to the world. otherwise, iran before islam was just a money-rich kingdom.

i am a socialist ( and follower of muammar qaddhafi ) and always keep the political aspect in mind of most things :-)

Edited 2012-10-27 08:31 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

You do realize that "Aryan" has negative connotations thanks to Nazi usage, yes?

Reply Score: 2

sameer Member since:
2012-10-27

"iran" means "land of the aryan". ancient word.

the connection with nazi-ism is just from the tine of hitler.

this is the national airlines of afghanistan - http://www.flyariana.com

Edited 2012-10-27 11:00 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

Iran's ancient name was Persia.

Reply Score: 1

sameer Member since:
2012-10-27

"persia" is a greek word. it refers to i think either fars region of iran, or the farsi language.

edit : the irani king called "cyrus" by europeans was actually by name "kuroosh".

Edited 2012-10-27 11:06 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

Yeah, in Western usage Persia was the preferred name until 1935. There's a Persian restaurant called Arya in the Greenhills area of San Juan, Metro Manila. My guess is that calling it Iranian cuisine wouldn't be as popular thanks to the current government in Iran.

Reply Score: 2

sameer Member since:
2012-10-27

hello johann, thanks for the detailed reply.

i think the owners of that restaurant want to popularize their culture in terms on ancient-ness. maybe the owners are zarthushti ( zoroastrian ) or maybe calling themselves "muslim".

Edited 2012-10-27 11:45 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

No politics, please. This is ridiculously off-topic.

Reply Score: 1

The real problem
by unoengborg on Sat 27th Oct 2012 15:47 UTC
unoengborg
Member since:
2005-07-06

The real problem with virtual keyboards is not that they are harder to type on. It is that they use up too much screen space so that you the overview of what you are doing gets lost.

Reply Score: 2

The future of onscreen keyboards
by spiderman on Sat 27th Oct 2012 21:40 UTC
spiderman
Member since:
2008-10-23

I have a lot of interest in onscreen keyboards and I am a contributor of the Florence Virtual Keyboard project:
http://florence.sourceforge.net
I believe there is a lot of things to improve and that our current onscreen keyboards suck.
Koreans have it easy but Chinese must use methods like pinyin and wubi which require training. I am currently working on a new input method for Florence where the user could just draw the glyph and it would input a character.
Development is slow and there are a lot of problems to overcome (GNOME desktop instability, patents to work around, lack of funding, etc) but I believe we can make something better than what currently exists.
For latin input, I like dasher. With good training, it's much more effective than an onscreen keyboard.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by kovacm
by kovacm on Sat 27th Oct 2012 23:19 UTC
kovacm
Member since:
2010-12-16

If Apple would not buy FingerWorks you could still buy such kind of keyboard... For 1000$ ;)

Reply Score: 1