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QHKCSTFPN, a linguistically-informed typewriter keyboard layout

A while back it occurred to me that yet another "rational" way to lay out a typewriter keyboard would be to do it in a way that leveraged our innate knowledge of phonetic topology so that letters that were close together in the mouth (and thus, presumably, in the linguistic cortex) would be close together on the keyboard. I'm not suggesting that we ought to create a new keyboard, but if we were to (or if there's an opportunity to make something that's like a keyboard but needn't be exactly a keyboard), here's how it might go:

Home keys are in blue.


  • top row is unvoiced
  • bottom row is voiced
  • middle row is vowels and liquids
  • right side is the front of the mouth; left is the back


  • Q and X don't fit the pattern; they're the one nod to "put the less-used letters out of the way"
  • N isn't in the right place (but I couldn't think of a better compromise)


  • QWERTY: "machine ergonomics" (make it comfortable for the machine)
  • DVORAK "digital ergonomics" (make it comfortable for your hands)
  • QHKCSTFN "mental ergonomics" (make it comfortable for your mind)

    (pronounced "QuickStephen")