Monday, April 11, 2011

Special characters in French and Spanish

When I was in college, one of my roommates had one of those newfangled (at the time) Apple Macintosh computers. He let me use it for a French paper, and I was ecstatic that I could enter accented characters like é simply by pressing a key combination, a feat totally outside the capabilities of the typewriter I'd been using for papers. Apple got it way back then, and they still got it.

I previously wrote on my first (much less active) blog about how OpenOffice 3.1 [is] markedly less convenient than Microsoft Word 2007 for common accent marks in French. Microsoft got it, too. OpenOffice...not so much.

It is even easier to input special characters in French and Spanish in iOS. Instead of just tapping a letter (or character), tap-and-hold, then slide your finger to select from any alternate choices that appear, and "let go" (lift your finger from the screen). You can even get œ (tap-and-hold o), which is not in the "Western European Latin Alphabet #1", as I'd previously written. For Spanish, it is also possible to get the upside down question mark (¿) and exclamation point (¡).

If you're working primarily in English with a dab of French or Spanish here and there, there's no need to add the French or Spanish virtual keyboards, just tap-and-hold and choose the character variant as described above.

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