Re: "Euro" and the POSIX locale model

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Tue Oct 21 1997 - 13:58:32 EDT

> The current POSIX locale model doesn't support multiple currencies (I'm aware of
> the ungoing discussions on this in CEN/TC304). I'm interested in hearing what
> others think wrt to implementation of locales with Euro currency support on
> existing POSIX based systems in the interim.

Not much.
> My assumption is that these
> systems could support the Euro by supplying additional Latin-0 based (or UTF-8
> based) POSIX locales - say fr_EU.iso8859-0 or *fr_EU.UTF-8.

Hoo boy. Just what we need. I realize that defenders of the POSIX locale model
(and maintainers of software based on it) will have to come up with some
such solutions. But isn't it becoming obvious by now that good
internationalization design for software doesn't tie all aspects of
localizable differences in behavior to single locale constructs,
expecting all correct behavior to be defined there?

Definition of currencies and the topology of their usage across software
to define both monetary ratios and localizable currency formatting rules
are *different* from character sets used for data conversion. They are
*different* from collation rules. They are *different* from language
identity. Anybody with a ounce of object-oriented design background can
see that such things don't belong together in properly designed classes.
Or for that matter, any background in table normalization in databases
would suggest that tracking such things separately and then doing virtual
"joins" from separate tables to define particular combinations of
language, character set, collation, and local formatting behavior, would
make more sense than trying to create separate entries in one table for
all possible combinations--which is where the locale model leads.

> Is this a correct assumption?
> Comments?
> *Is there a 3166 code for the European Union?. If not any suggestions on a
> naming convention for Euro based locales.

No. See other email on the Euro thread today.

I realize that this may not be viewed as a very constructive response
to your questions, which, no doubt, are posed in good faith.
However, I have very little patience with the tyranny of the locale
model of internationalization, which is presented as the only standard
solution, and which has a rigid hold of many language standards as
well. It is an ill-conceived design which ill-serves the purpose
it was intended for, and when faced with additional requirements,
such as dealing with the Euro currency or the Universal Character
Set, it keeps getting more and more baroque and hard to implement.

--Ken Whistler

> rgds
> tom
> ps
> I'm aware that latin-0 may not be the official name.

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