BY YVES AVÉROUS
The keyboard is one of the translator’s most valued, though at times troublesome, tools. While past trends on the PC side have moved in the direction of hypertrophied ergonomic command centers, Apple has chosen a different philosophy in keeping with its primary goal of simplification. Mac’s compact keyboard is now the de facto standard on all models, both laptops and desktops. Less is more: gone is the numeric pad and many “missing” keys are easily accessed via a combination with the “fn” key—forward delete, for example, is “fn+delete”.To view all the options available in this keyboard, just enable the Keyboard Viewer utility in the main menu from the International panel of the System Preferences, under the Input tab. There, you can add various keyboard layouts to match those with which you are most comfortable. Of course, you will need to know them by heart if your hardware keyboard has the English layout. Interestingly, when you configure a new Mac online, you can not only choose between 3 types of keyboards (wireless, compact, and extended) but also the 3 languages of NAFTA: English, French and Spanish.
While I would have appreciated that option when I was still typing from my memorized French layout on a material English keyboard, now my favorite keyboard feature is the versatility of the built-in key combinations offered by Mac OS X. This is where the Keyboard Viewer is most useful: when you press the Option key, the accents appear in orange. To type “é”, for example, you start with Option-E, then E, and the accent is added to the letter “e”—if you often type in two languages, it is convenient to use just one layout.
Unfortunately, Apple’s US online store offers only English keyboards, and non-English keyboards are not shipped to the US. Nevertheless, the Apple keyboard is yet another good argument for using a Mac. YA
TransMUG is a Macintosh user group for translators. To sign up, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/transmug/.