I had a very frustrating evening. Finn and Claire are in Toronto so I had the whole evening to write. I was getting down to exploring why the notion of "handbooks" is excluded from recent literature on the human information behaviour of engineers--gripping, I know--when I ran into an old nemesis.
The apostrophe/quote key stopped working. Or rather, it was working but not doing what I wanted. Instead of providing the requested apostrophe/quote it started doing nothing. On the second stroke, however, I would get two apostrophes in a row. Furthermore, on certain occassions it would serve up an "e" with an accent grave. The whole situation was very frustrating and I was unable to rapidly Google a solution as I had on previous occassions.
Here's the thing: in searching for a solution, I was misled. My search rapidly produced results about the perils of "curly quotes" as compared to "straight quotes." Wrong direction. My problem was really around the accent grave. In fact, I had somehow convinced Word that I was using a French keyboard.
The solution: I customized my toolbars to include the keyboard settings for language. I customized the format toolbar to include the mysterious "EN" button. I'm not sure why, but it fixed the problem.
A colleague suggested alt+shift may work. Next time.