In my native tongue; Swedish, we have three letters more than in the English alphabet. They are letters of their own and not just umlauts/diacritics, so they have their place on all Swedish keyboards. Now … this isn’t just for Swedish … many other languages have those letters too, but I’ll write about the one I know something about 🙂.
Two of those ‘extra’ letters are also words of their own. Å means a little stream or creek — it’s definitely bigger than a brook. Ö is the word for island.
Since I’ve been typing all my grown-up life, I know where those letters sit on the keyboard — that will never go away, it’s in my spine. It’s really easy to install a secondary keyboard on a computer so I’ve always had the Swedish installed on all computers since I moved away. I switch back and forth all the time, with a short-cut [CMD+SPACE].
Not all people know how to install, they may not even know it’s possible, just because they’re living abroad somewhere. They might not even be interested. They type away, using a instead of ä or å, o instead of ö. Hence you can get to see the most horrendous examples in expat groups.
I remember one imbroglio in particular: There was this Swedish expat, living in some far off land, very active in a Facebook group, always pointing out stuff about his ancestors … how high standing citizens they’d been … way up in the social hierarchy, regardless of whether it had anything to do with the subject at hand. He used the method of just typing a or o. One time he was describing his ancestry on his mother’s side [“slakten pa min mors sida” for Swedish readers], which in Swedish turned out: The slaughter on my mother’s side.
Those two little dots above the a [ä] changed ‘ancestry‘ into ‘slaughter‘. One guy in the group burst out laughing and said «Oh, I’m so sorry about that!» The first guy wasn’t present the day the sense of humour was handed out, so he got angry and defensive, saying stuff like “here I sit in ***** [insert any far off country], and I really can’t be bothered with futile stuff like å, ä and ö because I don’t have that on my computer“. Oh joy! So much fun can be had in the expat groups! 😂