How the QWERTY Keyboard Broke the Chinese Language

Sign up for a CuriosityStream subscription at its lowest price ever and also get a free Nebula subscription (the streaming platform built by creators) here:
Get a Half as Interesting t-shirt:
Suggest a video and get a free t-shirt if we use it:
Follow Sam from Half as Interesting on Instagram: Sam.From.Wendover
Follow Half as Interesting on Twitter: halfinteresting
Discuss this video on Reddit:
Video written by Tristan Purdy
Check out my other channel:


  • Circlone JUrey
    Circlone JUrey39 minuta më parë

    3:36 True, "so many options will work". But in fact there is only one standard pinyin "spelling" for any given Chinese character (per pronunciation) which is designated by the Chinese government. Alternative forms of pinyin have no official recognition-as long as it is the Chinese government we're talking about, though many input tools do feature this sort of "auto-correction" or generally accept simplifications of pinyin such as omitting all vowels. And it is worth noting that pinyin is not the only Chinese pronunciation system (and definitely not the earliest), nor are these systems all based on English characters (Considering a literate Chinese can typically recognize and handwrite thousands of drastically different characters, it wouldn't be too hard to remember an extra handful for pronunciation purpose). Anyhow, pinyin is the predominant pronunciation system at least in terms of users. By no means it is a unique or exclusive solution though.

  • Circlone JUrey

    Circlone JUrey

    20 minuta më parë

    Let alone other systems that do not rely on phonetics. Yes, they can work. One of them I believe is Cangjie input method. I couldn't possibly master this myself but it is used quite widely. And it is efficient. I suspect the popularity of pinyin isn't mainly due to how hard it is to find a way to input Chinese characters which reflect how to write them but as a result of attempts to make them easier for Western to memorize and quote. Of course governments are also driving forces in the campaign for the adoption of pinyin. More history about efforts to adapting Chinese in the alphabet world: Roughly 100 years ago, progressive educators, writers, and a whole bunch of public called for the complete replacement of Chinese writing language for phonetic expressions. The motion ultimately failed (In fact literacy rate is extremely low back then, I wondered how much impact it would have had even if they had succeeded. But look at the widely used simplified Chinese right now, which is adopted 70 years ago. I have no doubts anymore.) They argued that the nation could not progress unless China adopt Western systems, and among other things, the alphabet based written language.

  • Bence Jávorszki-Farkas
    Bence Jávorszki-Farkas39 minuta më parë

    Well, this shows that how inefficent a writing system this is. Logically you want to write words with the least amount of all characters, which latin does well. And they came up with 1 charter for 1 word. Not the best thinking.

  • Joshua Wyckoff
    Joshua Wyckoff3 orë më parë

    The name QWERTY comes from the order of the fist 6 letters of the key board, used to distinguish it from other layouts such as abcdef and so on. If I am not mistaken, the QWERTY keyboard was intentionally designed to slow typers down, but still allow for fast typing. This was because some type writers would break if someone types too fast.

  • GoldenDoom
    GoldenDoom4 orë më parë

    I feel bad for chinese students. They have even more school work now. They have an average of 9hrs and 30min of school per day and an average of 2hrs out of school learning.

  • chromeStar
    chromeStar6 orë më parë

    Well there are actually other Chinese character computer input method exists, for example 倉頡 速成 九方,in which they are coded according how the characters are written. By using those method to input, you would remember how characters are written and it is useful even you are not speaking Mandarin but rather speaking Cantonese / Hakka (As you see different languages for the same Chinese character usually have different pronunciation)

  • Matthew Pitman
    Matthew Pitman6 orë më parë

    this should be deleted and replaced by how the QWERTY keyboard broke my fingers

  • Jackie Soals
    Jackie Soals7 orë më parë

    Me who has been studying and typing out Chinese for 4 years: oh hell yes I know where this is going Watches the video: oh yes I definitely don’t know how to write half the characters I know

  • chain 3519
    chain 351912 orë më parë

    Seems to me that pinyin is just the natural evolution of a language. I don't see a problem with it overtaking the character based system, since letter based systems are an easier export

  • Coldspot 22
    Coldspot 2212 orë më parë

    I wonder of Corean and Japanese people have the same problem

  • wiLLiam
    wiLLiam13 orë më parë


    QWERTY16 orë më parë

    In the olden days we used type writers, and it was easy to get jammed. So people made the QWERTY keyboard as then it won't jam the typewriter. Later when we don't sue typewriters we still love the QWERTY format.

  • ExplorAdven
    ExplorAdven17 orë më parë

    😂😂😂😂 No body knows where the name 'Qwerty" comes from, or did I hear the statement incorrectly 🤔🤔🤔

  • Sharan J
    Sharan J17 orë më parë

    What's your obsession with bricks😂😂

  • SkyTech RTS
    SkyTech RTS18 orë më parë

    I think the Qwerty keyboard name comes from the legendary Internet conquerer: General: Wert

  • Captain Twist
    Captain Twist18 orë më parë

    Atleast there are no spelling bees in China(I hope so)

  • Edward Rhoads
    Edward Rhoads19 orë më parë

    Actually you get your : checked at 50 not ;

  • Colaman112
    Colaman11221 orë më parë

    "There's a very close connection to how you write an English word and how you say it." *Laughs in Finnish* 🤣🤣

  • Irish Stew
    Irish Stew22 orë më parë

    OK, off topic trivia from a really-old guy (like living through 16 presidential administrations!) Does anybody know where WYSIWYG came from? It was a gift to black comedian Flip Wilson, because when he played in "drag" as Geraldine and got hit on, he would look back and say, "What You See Is What You Get!" For "real" kiddies!

  • VIP.!
    VIP.!23 orë më parë

    The QWERTY keyboard was originally invented that way to make people type slower, because old typewriters couldn‘t handle with the high typing speed of some people these days and would get stuck pretty often. Also, you say QWERTY to differentiate it between other keyboard layouts like the German one, which is QWERTZ.

  • Jared
    JaredDitë më parë

    bad script ruins an otherwise interesting video. 1) implying pinyin made china a world power is patently ridiculous 2) dismissively referring to characters as squiggles 3) false claims: "character has nothing to do with how it's pronounced". actually most chars are phono semantic compounds with a significant clue as to their pronunciation.

  • Galacta712
    Galacta712Ditë më parë

    This video is again reminding me that I, a Chinese person, cannot read chinese(not like I could in the first place-)

  • Sb L
    Sb LDitë më parë

    There are other non-pinyin methods of inputting Chinese, but I guess the main point still mostly stands.

  • Jonathan Chan
    Jonathan ChanDitë më parë

    I think you misrepresented how character predication in chinese typing works and how phonetic elements work in characters

  • HungryIronApple Gaming
    HungryIronApple GamingDitë më parë

    Growing up learning chinese, I can confirm this, but I am very skilled in other aspects of Chinese aside from writing

  • Tom Nonegiven
    Tom NonegivenDitë më parë


  • Dmitri Legovickis
    Dmitri LegovickisDitë më parë


  • Phone Case
    Phone CaseDitë më parë

    thats 2.30 minutes for just 4 symbols, brooo

  • Pandu POLUAN
    Pandu POLUANDitë më parë

    Korea had instead totally embraces the change... Centuries ago they use Chinese characters (Hanjin). But the necessity to memorize the shape of thousands of words made lots of them illiterate. An emperor (forgot his name, sorry) tasked his scientists to make a system that's easier to learn. Hangul/Hangeul was born. It's basically the Korean alphabet. Target than having to understand and memorize how to write thousands of words... they just pronounce the words and write down the phonemes. Within several decades, illiteracy dropped to almost nil.

  • CletusBurgerBoy
    CletusBurgerBoy2 ditë më parë

    I'm glad China is failing. This will teach those commies.

  • JimA Anders
    JimA Anders2 ditë më parë

    It would be an advantage for the Chinese people if everyone learned how to write with Roman letters but there will be a LOT of resistance to that. Old writing systems die hard. English spelling is a nightmare, yet we don't seem to be interested in fixing it. Note: We still use Roman numerals. In science, Greek letters are used too. I forget how to write words in English sometimes, so no writing system is fool proof. However, Chinese and Japanese do leave a lot of room for improvement.

  • yidingcao
    yidingcao2 ditë më parë

    While Chinese characters does not immediately tell you how to pronounce a word, but it is possible to have basic characters that suggest the pronunciation of a character that is normally made up of two or three parts which could be referred back to the basic characters that tell you somehow how a character is pronounced. It is like English speakers would still have to learn how a letter is pronounced in words and there are rules for that. It is basically the same.

  • maninredhelm
    maninredhelm2 ditë më parë

    It's like not knowing how to drive someplace that you've already been to several times before, because you always used GPS navigation prompts to guide you there.

  • Leo Law
    Leo Law2 ditë më parë

    I don’t use Pinyin to type chinese, its not the only way to type chinese on QWERTY keyboards.

  • james Mcmichael
    james Mcmichael2 ditë më parë

    i would assume its called qwerty because thats the first letters on the keyboard

  • Ad Las Vex
    Ad Las Vex2 ditë më parë

    You should make a video about why bricks are so effective at breaking peoples teeth

  • Jana Vukcevic
    Jana Vukcevic2 ditë më parë

    This reminds me of people forgetting to write cyrillic here. Sad.

  • Jarell’s adventures
    Jarell’s adventures2 ditë më parë


  • That mf rat Charles
    That mf rat Charles2 ditë më parë

    I feel like this is similar to how nobody knows how to write cursive

  • grahamlive


    Orë më parë

    Good. Cursive or joined-up writing as we called it as kids in the UK just makes things difficult to read. It may look pretty but it's old-fashioned and pointless and it's time it went.

  • Doubledekercouch - games & whatever -
    Doubledekercouch - games & whatever -2 ditë më parë

    Queens Want Every Russians Tea Yes

  • The Missing Alchemist
    The Missing Alchemist2 ditë më parë


  • Kami
    Kami2 ditë më parë

    Oh no is a little western language hurting their culture? Good thing the Chinese are so respectful towards other cultures :^ )



    2 ditë më parë

    No just the language. Same problem is happening in Japan. But it's just another tick in the big book of "England Ruins Everything"

  • Apple Dinger
    Apple Dinger2 ditë më parë

    The name qwerty came from an ancient Polynesian goddess named qwereta. The inventor of qwerty keyboard was heavily into Polynesian mythology.

    Its ENDERARESTRON2 ditë më parë

    The qwerty keyboard name came from a problem. On old type writers , the letters at the beginning are abcdef instead of qwerty. This made a problem where some people typed too fast made the type writers break, so to solve this problem they rearranged the words randomly making it QWERTY I found this of a ALthe vid but I forgot which

  • UnknownUser
    UnknownUser3 ditë më parë

    Good that it broke it

  • Cuty Conway Thurtuss
    Cuty Conway Thurtuss3 ditë më parë

    If a Chinese watches this video (most likely someone will) problaby they'll already know this whole thing and every single word

  • I exist but I don't exist
    I exist but I don't exist3 ditë më parë

    4:19 hello I am an america person my Han language not very good ?

  • i love you
    i love you3 ditë më parë

    Video idea:its called qwerty because bricks

  • Table 2.0
    Table 2.03 ditë më parë

    I get traditional stuff and how the Chinese do their words is very cool- but more to the point, even without considering keyboards, there’s just too much to remember by the looks of it. I forget words all the time, and I forget how to spell the rest of the time.. Chinese having such a complicated and numerous characters must be a lot to remember!

  • Wasif Zakwan
    Wasif Zakwan3 ditë më parë

    *Dong Lai Shun Muslim Restaurant* Oh boi I need to go there XD

  • 陈杰
    陈杰3 ditë më parë

    David, P. (1985). “Clio and the Economics of QWERTY”. The American Economic Review. 75(2): 332-337. [online]

  • thomas tunthu
    thomas tunthu3 ditë më parë

    Look guys I just pulled 6 all nighters trying to figure out why it’s called “QWERTY” and the only explanation I have is really just not that good. Hear me out here, look at the first 6 letters and see how they spell out “QWERTY”? It may be a coincidence but it’s the best I have. Edit: a word

  • Yo Loo
    Yo Loo3 ditë më parë

    Its qwerty becose the first 6 top left leters is qwerty

  • manbotbender
    manbotbender4 ditë më parë

    from what ive learned, the qwerty keyboard was designed so that the more frequent letters were further from the middle. back in the day of typewriters, people got so fast at typing that typewriters got jammed. as a result, they moved the most frequently used letters to spots further from each other to effectively slow down how fast people type. i dont know if this is fact, but thats what i learned

  • Edward
    Edward4 ditë më parë

    Thanks to Pinyin, we dont need 3000 keys on a keyboard for regular characters and 60k keys for all other characters.

  • Nova2512
    Nova25124 ditë më parë

    *”Chinese” isn’t a language*

  • Nova2512


    2 ditë më parë

    @L L *Yea not a language. There is no language called “Chinese” Written or spoken.*

  • L L

    L L

    2 ditë më parë

    The writing

  • Andrew Cheng
    Andrew Cheng4 ditë më parë

    It was in 1967 or something when typewriters jammed,so someone made qwerty: the most common letters are far from each other to avoid jams,now its used because people are resistant to change

  • Andrew Cheng

    Andrew Cheng

    Ditë më parë

    @Scott Paul Yeah I just don't genuinely know lol

  • Scott Paul

    Scott Paul

    Ditë më parë

    and by 1967 or something, you mean the 1870s

  • Jony_GRY
    Jony_GRY4 ditë më parë


  • Jose Maderas
    Jose Maderas4 ditë më parë

    I have the QWERTY keyboard too! It's called QWERTY because the first 6 keys are Q-W-E-R-T-Y.

  • Jess A
    Jess A4 ditë më parë

    Isn’t this the same as Americans not writing in cursive though? Language evolves and becomes easier for the person using it. We leave behind what we don’t need and pickup new things that work better.

  • Korilian13


    2 ditë më parë

    I think its more like Americans refusal to adopt the metric system. Everyone knows there is a better system, but people are attached to their own culture. Which, fair enough. It served them well for 3000 years.

  • Alan Fernandez

    Alan Fernandez

    2 ditë më parë

    Yeah but we have print there's nothing to replace Characters

  • Logiks
    Logiks4 ditë më parë

    QWERTZ Gang where ya at??? 👇

  • Ben Warner
    Ben Warner4 ditë më parë

    Sem-eye coe-lon

    ULTRA GAMER4 ditë më parë


  • yes yes
    yes yes4 ditë më parë

    definitely Defenitly definitley difinetly definitely

  • thanos ks
    thanos ks4 ditë më parë

    china: has over 300 letters also china: how dare you not remember how to write every single one of them

  • RJ Krueger
    RJ Krueger4 ditë më parë

    I am so immature bumfuzzle is so damn funny to me

  • kryptoid 256
    kryptoid 2564 ditë më parë

    5:03 halal 100%😳

  • Yeetfus The Bootiful
    Yeetfus The Bootiful5 ditë më parë

    I’m sorry, but the QWERTY keyboard actually HELPED Chinese? Just smh :/

  • BoraCM
    BoraCM5 ditë më parë

    He’s finally admitted that he is the guy from Wendover Productions.

  • Isha Walker

    Isha Walker

    Ditë më parë

    @BoraCM thank u

  • BoraCM


    Ditë më parë

    @Isha Walker Watch from 6:25.

  • Isha Walker

    Isha Walker

    Ditë më parë

    @BoraCM when did he admitted that he is the same guy i didnt notice can u plz tell me at what point

  • Isha Walker

    Isha Walker

    Ditë më parë

    @BoraCM oh thank u

  • BoraCM


    2 ditë më parë

    @Isha Walker

  • Jake G
    Jake G5 ditë më parë

    Goal to anyone who knows mandarin is to do impossible and make a keyboard.

  • FastCrafter
    FastCrafter5 ditë më parë

    Uphill both ways. nice.

  • Poisonjam7
    Poisonjam75 ditë më parë

    Maybe they shouldn’t use such a stupid and archaic writing system. Japan uses a lot of the same characters (usually with different readings) but they also have two completely phonetic writing systems that don’t have this issue. Thus, they had no issues when integrating their language into computer keyboards. No idea if they’re facing the same problem with youths forgetting how to write kanji, though.

  • Mechanikal Bull

    Mechanikal Bull

    4 ditë më parë


  • mike bar
    mike bar5 ditë më parë

    I like the idea of characters but it needs to be simpler... There are more important things to learn. Someone tell xiping he doesn't need to learn English just realize that maybe it's a natural progression of language...

  • Its_ Logan
    Its_ Logan5 ditë më parë

    Let's appreciate how the word "Qwerty" sounds like "Cutie"

  • Никифор Фёдорович Раскольников
    Никифор Фёдорович Раскольников5 ditë më parë


  • Joel Bright
    Joel Bright5 ditë më parë


  • Allon Vorlete
    Allon Vorlete5 ditë më parë

    Spellcheckers are making me forget how to spell things

  • Maya Gutierrez
    Maya Gutierrez5 ditë më parë

    0:43 the image was japanese kanji for numbers. im bored so the order it was in was 5, 6,7,8,9,10. the bottom was 100, 1000, 10000. the rest was Person/People, Mouth and im pretty sure Big. also, isnt the keyboard called qwerty cause the keyboard order is q-w-e-r-t-y? and also; half the images were in japanese such as job.

  • Rilmi Situ
    Rilmi Situ5 ditë më parë

    can read it just forget how to write it from nothing

  • Transnewtech
    Transnewtech5 ditë më parë

    I am Chinese 🤬

  • Leii Lo
    Leii Lo5 ditë më parë

    To people confused about 0:36: he keeps zooming into shots of QWERTY ON KEYBOARDS, while saying after "hours of searching, me and my colleagues couldn't find out where it comes from." It's the first 6 letters on the keyboard. It was a joke, lol.

  • SonGoQ
    SonGoQ5 ditë më parë

    QWERTZ Gang

    ꧁SARANG NAE꧂5 ditë më parë


  • Trevor
    Trevor5 ditë më parë

    Its. Because the first 6 letters are Q. W. E. R. T. Y

  • lyndaek99
    lyndaek995 ditë më parë

    There were nonpcs in the 50s. How did they have autocorrect

    THEBIGGAKLIPA6 ditë më parë

    Hmhmmhmhmhmhm i used qwerty now 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯

  • Eric Su
    Eric Su6 ditë më parë

    did you not come across wubi (五筆) while researching this topic?

  • iamCookie
    iamCookie6 ditë më parë

    Qwerty is the first set of keys 🙄🙄

  • iamCookie


    5 ditë më parë

    @gooeycookie lol / FlowerPotatoRB oh ty 😋/btw ur a gooey cookie??

  • gooeycookie lol / FlowerPotatoRB

    gooeycookie lol / FlowerPotatoRB

    5 ditë më parë

    Wow you are so smart 🤩 I could never have figured it out

  • Ziyuan Ma
    Ziyuan Ma6 ditë më parë

    I can fully relate. I haven't written Chinese by hand for ages. There's never the occasion to with all the work being done on a computer. The only exception is perhaps when I write someone a holiday card and man it felt really weird to hold a pen and write the characters. And obviously my handwriting suck.

  • Maurice Kuntz
    Maurice Kuntz6 ditë më parë

    The Querty-Keyboard was invited in the Time when there where only tipewriters and the letters in the first row of the keyboard can yous switch to tipewriter. It isnt alphabatically ordered, becauae ghe metalpins colladage often withe the vocals so they spread them all over the keyboard

  • TimTam


    4 ditë më parë

    try again buddy

  • Mütheimムツ広 März
    Mütheimムツ広 März6 ditë më parë

    also happen to Japanese as well. a Kanji (chinese letter) have same problem, but japanese have hiragana (original japanese letter) which easy to write(not so many stroke).

  • Daniel_H212
    Daniel_H2126 ditë më parë

    I'm a real life example of this. I can read and type Chinese perfectly fine, but ask me to handwrite the same character's I had just read / typed, then I'll be completely screwed.

  • Ben Cheevers
    Ben Cheevers6 ditë më parë

    Chinese writing is a cool tradition but absolutely useless from a practical standpoint, Roman characters might be less practical than something else but the standard 26 letter and 9 arabic numerals is amazingly adept and leagues more practical than 3000 symbols.

  • silpheedTandy
    silpheedTandy6 ditë më parë

    i still want to see a full-length episode on bricks, by the way

  • Max Stockwell
    Max Stockwell6 ditë më parë

    完全 苏 更好 真 吖吖

  • HappyHamSandwich
    HappyHamSandwich6 ditë më parë

    Old typerighter keyboards use to get jammed if you put two letters together at the same time so they moved all the letters far from eachother so everything wouldn’t get jammed

  • HappyHamSandwich
    HappyHamSandwich6 ditë më parë


  • Nezumi
    Nezumi6 ditë më parë

    Was the "we couldn't figure out where QWERTY comes from" part a joke?



  • Iris Lin
    Iris Lin6 ditë më parë

    the beginning of this video goes a bit in-depth about the qwerty keyboard origins!

  • Dogeasus
    Dogeasus6 ditë më parë


Faqja Tjeter