Thursday, 8 February 2018

From A Strike to a Tap

As the march of time progresses on its merry way, there has also been a dashed unsettling tendency for the integrity of the English language to be altered to suit. The verb ‘type’, for instance, did not exist in terms of writing composition until the introduction of the commercial typewriter. At this particular point in time, typewriters were functionally mechanical and technically as demanding in use as a military field rifle. The keys had to be struck with a certain amount of force to register the command, much like operating a lever or pulling a winch. This being a simple, straight-forward time, when things were called as they were, ‘strike’ was precisely them used. Such as in the following passage from the 51st edition of Pitman’s Journal of Commercial Education published in 1896: ‘It will be apparent that if two keys are accidentally struck together no impression wile be made, also only one type can enter the guide at a time, and the act of striking two keys locks each, neither leaving an impression on the paper.’

So remained the case through much of the 20th century even managing survive the adoption of digitized ‘word processors’ and affordable ‘personal computers’ in late 1980s. A fact based in several, disparate elements, paramount among them the fact that even the new fangled ‘plastic’ keyboards maintained an element of lovely, mechanical precision by having keys which where separate pieces spring loaded into the base. A design which still required a modicum of honest graft to operate. It was not until the turn of the last 
century that the new fangled ‘flat’ keyboard began to usher in an age of sloth 
through simplicity. 

The fine old terms ‘strike’ and ‘hit’ were duly replaced by the anemic words ‘tap’ and ‘click’. A situation only worsened with the imposition of ‘touch-screens’ unto the world. It was not long until such distasteful terminology began to claim cultural dominance, there now even being a website dedicated to mobile communication devices christened TapTapTap. While gentler in terms of terminology and association, the ‘taps’ and ‘clicks’ required by ‘touch-screens’ rob 
the once proud work of typing of its rhythm, precision and, dare I say, passion. 

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