How typing may shape meaning

typewriter-300x198.jpgIn strange new research news, apparently the layout of your keyboard may have an affect on how we perceive meaning in the words we type.

According to researchers from University College London, we may be “connecting the meanings of the words with the physical way they’re typed on the keyboard”, in what they’ve termed the QWERTY effect. Letter combinations of the right side of the keyboard are easier to type; this leads to positive meaning. For the left side of the keyboard, the reverse is true.

Jasmin cautioned that words’ literal meanings almost certainly outweigh their QWERTY-inflected associations, and said the study only shows a correlation rather than clear cause-and-effect. Also, while a typist’s left- or right-handedness didn’t seem to matter, Jasmin said there’s not yet enough data to be certain.

“But as far as I know, this is the first demonstration that even hints how a word is typed can shape what it means over time,” he said.

In the future, the researchers plan to scrutinize other kinds of keyboards.

“In different languages, there are other variations with more and different punctuation keys in different places and more letters on the right than the left,” he said. “Technology changes words, and by association languages. It’s an important thing to look at.” (Source: Wired)

The full article can be read at the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.

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