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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ä as in Ämazing!!!!

Technology and me have a love hate thing. I only love it when it works the way I think it should work or the way the Science fiction taught us it could work. And I hate it when it works the way that it does in the real world. For instance: Keyboard short cuts.

I have the same bad hand posture that I had in typing class. Being taller than most of my classmates, and thus a tad bit beyond the average used as a standard in determining what "functional" means for 95% of the population, I never fit right at a desk or table with a keyboard. It's kinda like how I don't fit sleeves in 98% of anything because I have monkey arms. I am always about 1.5 inches longer than a sleeve or too broad in the shoulder for the body of the shirt. So most of the time I am sleeveless. For sitting and typing I didn't have many options either. I would prefer to be hunched over my keyboard like Schroder over his piano. But alas... that trick almost never works. So my hands just plunk themselves down instead of float above the keys.

And therein lies the problem. Inevitably the pads of my thumbs hit the touch screen of my laptop mouse pad. And then the creative keyboard shortcuts hijinks ensue. I remember in college I did something that totally wiped out my screen and lost my cursor. The graphics teacher came to my rescue because I totally flipped out. I couldn't fix it. Control Z didn't undo what I had done. I couldn't find the cursor and I lost 16 hours worth of work. he hit a few buttons and it all came back. Apparently I accidentally enlarged the work screen by several hundred percentage points and was looking at a part of the project that was blank. And he never showed me what it was that I did.

So the other day I was typing along, minding my own business, when suddenly every word was underscored in red. Really? How did I just spell 16 words wrong? Oh... but I did spell hat right. Good for me... but "me", "but", "and" were wrong? What? It occurred to me that at one point I had hit a couple keys that I didn't want to. Since I was cognizant of that I played with the keys. And my finger slipped off of the "L" and landed on the colon key. Guess what I got...


I accidentally changed my keyboard into German. I had chosen German as a second language at the set up. But I wasn't sure exactly when that would come into play. And I have since found out that, in so doing, when I load photos from the digital camera that it uses German prompts. Oops. That was trippy trying to figure out how that all works.

The alt+shift combo has to be the best accidental keyboard shortcut ever. Now I have Ümlauts and the ß, and whatever these are ´` and `` ´´ German styled quotes. But sadly I also have German spell check checking my English and capitalizing my cognates even though I don't want them capitalized. And for whatever reason they have done it this way, I have a QWERTZ keyboard instead of QWERTY. But that is okay. I have the umlauts and the es-tset (ß).

I can not tell you how amazing that is. Normally when presented with a name like Grönemeyer, you would spell out the umlaut as "oe". And that apparently offends some people. Or you would do the lazy American thing and forget the e and hope Herr Grönemeyer. Isn't offended. But mostly we just add an extra vowel like they did back in the day at Ellis Island. Matt Groening's ancestors would no longer spell it Gröning, Walter Koenig's ancestors would no longer spell it König. And my Gerbstadt ancestors would no longer spell it Gerbstädte.

I understand the philosophy that "Yer in Amerca now, boy" so you have to do things our way. And when you immigrate you should expect that to happen. You should be prepared for some things to change. From a practical stand point... how would an old fashioned standard typewriter ever been able to handle the grammatical and typographical demands of so many other languages. A typewriter would have been as big as a printing press! And how collectible would they ha.... hmmm...
how collectible would they have been?. I wonder.....

But from a calligraphic stand point it is a tragedy to lose the umlauts and the es-tset (ß). Germany has even changed the standards for print media spelling. So now a word that has had the three S composition is going to be spelled with three S instead of ßs. This happens when Germans build compound words. And they build them all the time, almost will-nilly, because they will let their language change with society. In essence, bowing to outside demand, they are doing away with the ß. So then
du warst meine
Große Liebe 

becomes du warst meine Grosse Liebe.
Translated as You were my Greatest Love, without the es-tset, the English mind may wish to read that as something else. English common usage of Gross shows disgust. Unless you are talking in units of measure in manufacturing or purchasing. Then its 12 dozen of something. Which would indeed be a very large or a great sum. With the es-tset in there you shock the English mind a little to break the connection to our own vernacular use. And it is just a pretty letter. It softens an otherwise hard-edged language. It is elegant in its calligraphy and economic in its purpose.

So I guess while the German language society is phasing it out, I am going to phase it in. And here is a wish that the Umlaut never dies!

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