French Keyboard

A friend and fellow writing class student has started a blog. Its address is Sometimes we jolt each others memories about something we experienced while in France together. Today I read the entry about the French Keyboard, which brought up a lot of funny moments. If you visit her site, she has a picture posted of the actual keyboard.

The back story to my finding out the differences between American and French keyboards, goes a little like this.

My blackberry service provider thought it would be more economical for me to skip international coverage and get a sim card at a phone store in Paris. The phone store recommended Virgin Mobile, which wasn’t the preferred provider in France. Note for future endeavors, request Orange while in France. Although Virgin worked at the hotel in Troyes, it only did so after we figured out that the hotel password had a symbol American units did not recognize. Password was changed and service was exceptional.

However, further out in the country, the wi-fi wouldn’t work unless I purchased extra time from Orange, which would double the cost as I would be using Virgin minutes to call Orange and those minutes for internet access.

But all was not lost. Our fantastic host, Jean-Jacques Chenut at Les Canotiers Hotel in Essoyes, France, invited me to use his computer at the front desk. The first obstacle was realizing the letters on the keyboard were not in the same order as the ones I have been accustomed to.

Keyboards are set up so that your strongest fingers line up with the most commonly used letters and the weaker fingers, such as ring finger, are assigned the least used letters. So ‘q’ in America would be in the upper left hand corner assigned to the tiniest little finger because Americans don’t use ‘q’ in a lot of words. Not so for the French, so letters get reordered on the board and my typing looked like gibberish. So much for my typing skills, it was hunt-and-peck for me there.

The other obstacle was that his internet was in French, of course, and it just took too long for my mind to sort it out. My French is limited but I am working on that, and I sincerely thank the entire population of France for their patience as I mangled and scrambled and asked for help. With only two exceptions, I found everyone extremely helpful. Sometimes it is enough to just try to respect their language and customs and they will meet you in the center of the proverbial road.

So I used the translate option, just to speed things up. But how extremely nice to let your guests use your own computer when there were issues with the wi-fi. It did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

And I thank my friend for jogging my memory about that, as we laughed over it while there. And if you have a few moments, visit her site, she is very computer savvy and has a bit of a scientific mind. At least that’s one of my observations about her many talents.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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  1. As an American in Paris I definitely concur that the French keyboard takes a lot of getting used to! One mind-boggling difference is you need the Shift key to type a period, and last I checked the French use them just as often as we do. Plus while having accent keys available (like é) is nice, they’re way at the top row with the number keys which feels awfully far from home row. Just one of the many small differences that makes a foreign country so unique and challenging!

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