Re: A basic question on encoding Latin characters

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Mon Sep 27 1999 - 16:41:49 EDT

Scott opined:

> How about
> "Because speakers of English, German, French, Dutch, and Italian occupy
> a superior position in the world, their languages will continue to enjoy
> thorough support on computers. As an economically unimportant nation,
> you are free to take up one of those languages when you find (as you
> inevitably will) that the computer industry doesn't give a tinker's damn
> about yours."

It would be a good idea to try to separate the market realities of the
information industry (where Scott's concerns are, unfortunately, well-
founded and part of a pattern of domination by the industrial,
developed part of the world) from the technical issues of character
set encoding and architecture that we are discussion on this list.

Note, by the way, that the list of privileged languages includes Japanese,
Chinese, Korean, and Arabic -- so is not limited to European and
American colonialists and hegemonists.

Despite the proclivities of many of our employers, and in the face of
the ongoing struggle many of us wage to get internationalization,
localization, and cultural adaptibility taken seriously in our
products, many of us active in the Unicode encoding process are some
of the strongest advocates for continuing and completing the work
of making the Unicode Standard the *universal* encoding system --
including all the minority scripts and historic scripts that are not
yet covered. It is just that some of us happen to believe that the
particular *majority* script known as Latin is *already* fully
encoded (in fact, re-encoded over and over: there are 1001 LATIN
letters now in Unicode 3.0, with more coming in Unicode 4.0!) according
to its native script principles.

If you were working to establish an international web presence for
the Tamazight language, would you rather work with that ruthless
bastion of capitalist computer industry hegemonism, the Unicode
Consortium (which "doesn't give a tinker's damn about your [language]"),
to help get answers and resolve problems about combining character
support in web authoring and rendering tools and fonts? Or should you
depend on the tender mercies of the Algerian government to represent
your character encoding interests to the appropriate ISO committe to
get precomposed Latin characters for Tamazight encoded so you can
be a "first-class citizen" in the international standard? Umm. Let
me think about that choice and get back to you, o.k.?


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