Thursday, February 21, 2008


My weekly French lesson is being thwarted by Skype audio dropping out.
I let my fingers do the talking and tap, tap, taper a message suggesting to my teacher that we could continue silently like mimes: "on pourrait être comme les mimes".

Gesturing a conversation though wasn't possible because I don't have a
videocam. We would have to continue to type- be typists instead of mimes. Knowing that "taper" means to type, I struggled to come up with the noun. Tapereur? Tapetrice? Taperette?

"Dactylographe" my French teacher tells me.

"Quoi? Sounds like a dinosaur," I say. I'm thinking of the pterodactylus (which I later
find out is not a dinosaur although it did live in the Jurassic era).

"Le dactylo or la dactylo", she continues to explain, "is the short form depending
on the gender of the typist".

Now it really sounds like a type of dinosaur and I go back in time thinking of the typing classes I took in highschool. Back then before computers, word processors and electric typewriters (now I'm sounding like a dinosaur)- typing was a job. It was a professional skill to type over 55 words a minute without looking at the "qwerty" ("azerty" for the French) keyboard.

Now computers are everywhere and for everyone. But who really learns how to type using the 10-finger-system nowadays when the hunt and peck, two-finger system of typing is fast enough for keyboards and a single thumb faster still for mobile phones and the authors of keitai shosetsu? Mais je digresse... back to the present time and back to French.

"Les dactylos sont dinosaures," I say snapping back to the present and back to French.

Information on keitai shosetsu here: mobile phone novels.

I've linked to a typing test before but this one is different- and you can test yourself on seven different keyboards including French! (via :

La photo du M_ff: Le camélón dans Le Parc National Kruger avec notre safari guide, Lawrence de l'Afrique du Sud. Octobre 2007.