Israel tries to take the sting out of typing in Hebrew
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Israel tries to take the sting out of typing in Hebrew

Standards Institution grapples with confusing locations of punctuation keys

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative. A Hebrew-English keyboard. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
Illustrative. A Hebrew-English keyboard. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

In an attempt to solve the finger-befuddling differences between English and Hebrew keyboard layouts, the Standards Institution of Israel on Tuesday proposed an alternative arrangement for some of the Hebrew keys.

The suggested layout hopes to prevent the typos and confusion caused because some of the punctuation keys stray around the keyboard when typists switch between English and Hebrew on QWERTY layouts.

As a solution, the SII proposed that when functioning in Hebrew, all of the punctuation keys are placed on one side of the keyboard, and there is no double use for any of the letter keys in either English or Hebrew, as is the current standard.

“The purpose of the regulation is to simplify the use of an English-Hebrew keyboard by making it intuitive and direct,” explained Israel Standards Institute Director Pinhas Shahar.

A schematic for a new Hebrew-language keyboard layout proposed by the Israel Standards Institute, December 13, 2016. (screen capture from the Israel Standard Institute)
A schematic for a new Hebrew-language keyboard layout proposed by the Standards Institution of Israel, December 13, 2016. (screen capture from the Standards Institution of Israel)

The Hebrew alphabet has just 22 letters — but no capitals — although five of them take a different form when used at end of the word. When compared to the English alphabet of 26 individual letters, fitting all of the symbols on the same keyboard becomes tricky.

In addition to reorganizing the punctuation, the SII also advised some Hebrew letters — the final “nun,” the final “pey” and the “tuf” should also be shifted up and to the left from their present positions, moving them away from any confusion.

A technical panel including, among others, representatives from the Israel Internet Association, Microsoft, IBM, the Israel Consumer Council, and the Israel Chamber of Information Systems Analysts put together the new keyboard.

The new layout is still only a proposal and following the publication of the design the public will be able to give feedback until December 27. Based on responses a final decision will be made on introducing a new standard for a Hebrew language keyboard.

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