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This Blog is a Miracle…

03 Mar Posted by in Technology | 5 comments
This Blog is a Miracle…
It’s a miracle I can type on a German keyboard, navigate through Word and Photoshop in German, and surf the Web with a German IP address.

Remember those children’s picture games where you had to spot the differences between two drawings?



Based on the pictures provided, how many differences can you spot between the German keyboard and the English keyboard? Ok, obviously the English one is an icky yellow color and the other is a nice shiny black.

I used to love finding the differences in those pictures.

And then I moved to Germany and spotting the differences suddenly became a chore; a have to, not a want to.

After turning in my work laptop when I started maternity leave, the sharing of the family computer began. And I really wanted to throw the keyboard out the window.

The first difference I noticed is that the “y” and the “z” keys are swapped. The only time I found it to be amuying was when I was drunk. It was fun to tzpe my friends messages and pretend that the y and z weren’t really swapped. Probably the onlz one who thought it was funnz was me.

Not so funny either drunk or sober was trying to find the “@” symbol. It wasn’t with the numbers. I searched for way too long and got really aggravated because I couldn’t log into my e-mail.

Finally I found it on the “Q” button, but then how the h*ll do I get to it? After screaming for my husband, Kay (pronounced like Sky, but minus the S) to come, he told me, “You have to hold down the ‘Alt Gr’ button at the same time.” Ggggrrr!

And then there was the apostrophe. This still slows me down as often as typing quotes. And where the h*ll are the brackets? They don’t even exist on the German keyboard…Oh, there they are.

The special characters / Umlauts, Ä,Ö,Ü aren’t too bad because I don’t use them often. I learned, literally just now, how to get to the Sharp S / es zett / ”ß” button.

Anyone interested in how to type the Umlauts from an English keyboard? There is a special command for each, but they actually mean to put an “e” behind the letter. So Düsseldorf becomes Duesseldorf, for instance. The  “ß” is written as two S’s. Fleißig becomes Fleissig…to be industrious.

I’ll quit complaining about all the special characters, but is this “§” really used often enough to put it with the number three?

Typing on a German keyboard has been like re-learning how to type, and I hope I never have to take a wpm test on a German keyboard. It feels like trying to ride a bike, but every so often someone puts a stick in the spoke, and the bike suddenly comes to a screeching halt as you go flying over the handle bars.

Counting the number of differences between the two keyboards is like trying to count how many licks it takes to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. I don’t have the patience. So I looked it up online just now… and WikiAnswers…you, are WRONG.

“Differences between German and English keyboards?

Answer: They are almost identical except with the adding of the umlaut (ä,ö,ü etc) and the y is in the English keyboards z position and vice versa.”

WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! I can’t say wrong enough. Typing on a German keyboard is like trying to play the piano on a clarinet. They are completely different! The only things that are the same are the numbers, and 24 letters… Ok, the F-commands too, but who uses those on a daily basis? (My husband, maybe.)

But in all honesty, I’ve really just learned to adapt.

And now, I must admit that typing on an English keyboard stifles my typing rhythm too.

What still takes up way too much time is using Word and Photoshop?!  Not only are all the headings in German, but all of the quick commands are different.


Don’t even get me started on Photoshop. I know a lot of the versions are different, but you wouldn’t believe this version. It actually is a weight loss program. Yeah, really. Every time I get stuck, I get to walk down the stairs, ask my husband for help, and walk back up.

Seriously though, this pic demonstrates the File menu in Photoshop in German. This is really what I’m workin’ with.

Surfing the web…I have to make sure to put a term with enough English words into the search engine otherwise only German sites come up.

I make fun of my husband because he is the Wikipedia King. If he doesn’t know something, it’s a race to the computer so he can look it up on Wikipedia.

When you use a search engine, typically the German Wikipedia always comes up first and then you have to scroll further down to find the English version.

When the Expat-Mom site first went live, we saw that all the buttons were in German, but thought it was only because we are here in Germany. Then we learned that the US folks were seeing it in German too. Kay was able to find where to change the coding, and while I apologize for the technical difficulty, I hope you can appreciate some of the frustrations I face daily.

Yesterday, I asked Kay if he could bring down the camera’s SD Card, which was still in the computer. He knows I get mad when it isn’t properly ejected because it can cause picture errors.

He was taking forever and I finally yelled upstairs, “Are you coming?”

Kay: I can’t find the command to get the card out.

Me: Right click on the SD card drive and select, “Auswerfen.”

Kay: No, I changed the operating system to English for you.

Me: Aw, sweet…Eject! It is listed as, “Eject!”

Is it wrong for me to be happy that something so silly could stifle my husband? Yep, but too often I feel like he has no clue how the little things can become so frustrating for me.

  1. Mona Raub03-04-12

    Guess his kind gesture backfired on him! LOL

    • Mommy03-04-12

      All in the name of love:) It just makes him stronger in both languages.

  2. Andrew03-05-12

    Such a great in depth look at the German keyboard. :) It has taken me a while to get used to it. It doesn’t help that I have several computers (incl at work) in German and a laptop in English. So I can’t just get used to it, I have to switch back and forth.

    The punctuation is all moved around too. This isn’t such a big deal for normal writing, but in programming more than half of what you type is odd punctuation. So that just increases the number to learn.

    Thanks for the humor. :)

    • Mommy03-05-12

      Oh, wow! I didn’t even consider the poor programmers. Yikes! May the force be with you!

    • cliff197603-30-12

      Yeah, what Andrew said. Brackets and braces — so important for arrays and functions and classes! — are a mess on the German keyboard for touch-typists. You absolutely have to leave the home row to do them, which bugs me no end (who the heck decided that there only needs to be one alt-gr key on the whole dang keyboard? Why not one on each side!? Alt on the Mac keyboard is at least dual-purpose, but then the @ symbol works differently, too…)

      It took me a while to get used to the German keyboard, but when I arrived (*so* many years ago!) and my department had my laptop waiting there for me, I just dove in. Then we replaced the keyboard on the home computer with a German one and just kept rolling that way ever since. I’ve seen other expats at work struggle with trying to use a U.S. (or Russian) layout on a German keyboard. It can work, but just seems clunky.

      I actually *prefer* the dead-key approach to accenting letters — like á or ô or ñ — which I can do on a German keyboard (on my Mac and Linux computers; I think also in Windows to some degrees), even though those characters aren’t used in German words. On a U.S. keyboard in Windows (back in the day), I had to memorize the alt-codes: alt+0241 = ñ, if memory serves.

      On a shamelessly unrelated note: the annual expat blogger meetup (WEBMU for historical reasons) planning is nearing another milestone. Login at to cast your vote (by Sunday at the latest) for either Berlin or Münster. Once we know where it’ll take place, and who’ll serve as host, then we’ll start narrowing down the time frame to a specific weekend — most likely sometime in the fall.
      cliff1976 recently posted..Blasted Broccoli with Polenta and Smoked Paprika DressingMy Profile

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