Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 12:46, 25 December 2013 by Davidy22 (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 1 xkcd comics, and only 25 (1%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Voice Commands
Dvorak words may sound hard to pronounce, but studies show they actually put less stress on the vocal chords.
Title text: Dvorak words may sound hard to pronounce, but studies show they actually put less stress on the vocal chords.

Explanation

The Dvorak keyboard layout was designed to replace the QWERTY keyboard layout (the de facto standard keyboard layout in English-speaking countries, so named for the starting letters in the top row). The Dvorak layout was designed in the belief that it would significantly increase typing speeds over the QWERTY layout. This can be seen, among other ways, by the popular misconception that the placement of letters in the QWERTY standard were deliberately organized to limit typing speed in accommodation the tendency of original mechanical typewriters to jam if two adjacent keys were pressed in quick succession. (In fact, the original QWERTY layout was designed to help type American Morse code and subsequently optimized a bit for different users [1], [2].)

Even as other arguably better layouts were proposed over the years since the introduction of the QWERTY keyboard, QWERTY remained the standard due to widespread use.

Using Dvorak for speech to text, however, makes no sense whatsoever as there is no keyboard, real, virtual, or otherwise, involved in speaking. Even the virtual keyboard (usually QWERTY layout but often changeable) included in most phones and tablet devices is not used when speaking to the phone.

The sentence Cueball tells his phone translates to "Okay Google send a text" - he says it as if he were typing the sentence on a Dvorak layout with the keyboard set to a QWERTY layout. How such words would be pronounced is a mystery, as the letters in the words are merely substituted with others with no regard to phonetics; without standardized pronunciations, a speech-to-text program would be useless. To add to the confusion, one of the words in Cueball's sentence includes an unpronounceable semi-colon as one of its letters.

The title text is a reference to the fact that many users of DVORAK keyboards claim they may be hard to learn, but they are more movement efficient and put less stress on your fingers due to less movement. For example, see the link at http://www.dvzine.org/zine/10-11.html . This makes little sense in the scenario set up by the comic, as speaking gibberish using oddly placed vowels would be equally difficult, if not in fact harder, on the vocal cords. The use in the title text of 'vocal chords' rather than 'vocal cords' may be a reference to a stenograph (a typewriter used by a court stenographer) using multiple keys pressed at the same time, called a 'chord', to produce a single letter.

Using a Dvorak layout on a smartphone (for actual typing, not voice commands) is possible, but the very features that make it desirable in a physical touch-typing environment are drawbacks on a swipe-enabled keyboard. A placement designed to alternate a typist's left and right hands requires the finger of a swipist to travel back and forth across the keyboard more often. Fitting commonly-used letters onto the typist's home row reduces finger movement but makes many words the swipist enters indistinguishable. On a QWERTY swipe keyboard, four English words can be entered by swiping right to left from P to T: "pot", "pit", "put", and "pout"; however, setting the layout to Dvorak causes this to happen with many more common sets of words.

Transcript

[Ponytail and Cueball are standing looking at each other. Cueball is holding a phone.]

Ponytail: Can you text it to me?

Cueball: Sure!

Cueball: SVAT USSUPD ;DLH A KDBK

Ponytail: ...What?

Phone: *BEEP*

[Caption under the panel:]

Setting my phone's speech recognition to Dvorak was a pain at first, but it's more efficient in the long run.


Note: Cueball is saying "OKAY GOOGLE SEND A TEXT" if you account for keyboard layout.


Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a table of most recent xkcd comics and links to the rest, and the corresponding explanations. There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.

Rules

Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.

Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Navigation
Tools

It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?