Lisa's week

lisas week teaser

Lisa's week: I say QWERTY, you say QWERTZ


Long, long ago, many years before a computer could be found on every single desk in the world – or so it feels - and way before smart phones were even a twinkle in Steve Jobs’s eye, there was a machine called a “typewriter”. It was a strange machine. Heavy and clunky, you could slide a piece of paper around a long, black cylinder in the hope that it was lined up and straight. You would then bang on some alphabet keys, often hurting your little fingers in the process, which would in turn, send levers with a metal letter on the end up to an ink filled fabric band in order to imprint the letter onto the paper.

On and on you would go, pressing those letters in order to write words onto your paper. And if you made a mistake? Oh my! That was a disaster. Sometimes you would just give up, tear out the paper and start again. Or you could use a sort of white paper eraser which you slipped over the mistake, then overtype the incorrect letters and retype them. When you reached the end of the line, a small bell would sound a satisfying “ting” to signal that you should pull the lever to the far right in order to raise the paper one line higher and return the carriage to the beginning of the line.

For those of you as old as me, this might sound so very familiar! And if you’re a Millennial then you have probably only seen such contraptions on TV when they showcase the “past”!

I often refer to touch typing as the most useful skill I ever learnt - using all ten fingers to hit all the letters correctly so that I can type without looking down at my fingers. Back then, no one could imagine how we would ALL need to type all the time in order to communicate! I learnt on a manual, heavy typewriter with no letters on the keys so that I had to learn to move my fingers instinctively across them. In English, we have the QWERTY keyboard as these are the first 6 letters on the top row. Yes, we need that Y as our language is full of them. German needs many more Zs and therefore, you have these two keys transposed.

In the early days, when I first moved to Germany and was in the process of learning to navigate a German keyboard, manz manz of mz words were full of Zs until I got used to the new set up. Now when I go back to the UK and try to use someone’s computer, I’m once again totally confused and end up typing emails full of Zs! It’s amazing how instinctively this most useful of skills is, and how long it takes to recondition my brain to the new (original) keyboard.

Of course, a German keyboard also has the ö, ü, ä and ß keys and many of the symbols can be found in different places, all of which I always need to look for when I’m typing. Somehow, I just can’t learn where they are. When any of my family are visiting and they ask to use my computer, it’s so funny to see them struggling, just like I did, to find their way around such a familiar set of letters – it’s the same but different!

Another time, we can talk about just why the QWERTY keyboard became the norm among the typewriting world. But in the meantime, if you’re a ten-finger, touch typer like me or a super fast two-finger whizz like so many I see, take a moment this week to look down at the keys and wonder at this invention that we take so for granted.


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

Episode 55: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

Episode 56: Holiday season is coming!

Episode 57; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1

Episode 58; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2

Episode 59: Summer Solstice

Episode 60: Harry Potter turns 20

Episode 61: Quick Tip of the Week - live, life, live

Episode 62: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Episode 63:  I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Episode 64: Stick a stamp on it!

Episode 65: Idiom of the week - Water under the bridge