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Pere Renom

“We have given you, O Adam, no visage proper to yourself, nor endowment properly your own, in order that whatever place, whatever form, whatever gifts you may, with premeditation, select, these same you may have and possess through your own judgement and decision […] We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer.”

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

The letters, from the alphabet to the keyboard

published on 30.01.2020

Egyptian or Aztec hieroglyphs and Japanese pictograms are scriptures in which a drawing represents an idea. Our writing was originally like that too. A drawing represented an idea, but this drawing evolved and became an abstract symbol that represents the first phoneme of the word that it originally represented. This process is called “acrophony.” Once the alphabet had been invented, centuries passed by handwriting, with pen, until Gutemberg arrived and invented the printing press. An evolution of the printing principle is the typewriter. In 1868 the American inventor and politician Christopher Latham Sholes designed the first commercial typewriter. To avoid sticks sticking when typing fast, he arranged the keys so that the most frequent pairs of English letters were well apart. The result was the QWERTY keyboard, named after the first 6 letters of the upper left row. This keyboard was implanted in all typewriters of the time, it continued with electric typewriters, computers and mobile phones. Today, the situation is paradoxical: we have a keyboard system expressly designed to slow down typing speed for no real reason. At the proposal of the reporter Pere Renom, the UPF philologist Lluís de Yzaguirre designs the Catalan keyboard based on the most frequent consonant-vowel letter pairs in the Catalan language. And the Softcatalà association develops an application to install the Catalan keyboard on any computer. Once the new keyboard is mastered we will type faster, we will reduce the number of hand and wrist injuries and even improve our ability to express ourselves.

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