Re: A basic question on encoding Latin characters

From: Glen Perkins (
Date: Tue Sep 28 1999 - 06:04:54 EDT

Scott Horne:
> 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.

The people who work so hard to create good computer systems do so for the
same reasons Lao rice farmers work so hard growing rice and African drum
makers work so hard making drums -- to take responsibility for meeting their
own needs, both for the product itself and for other products and services
they can get in trade.

They're hardly villains for doing so. In fact, if they hadn't been so
successful at making computers profitably, computers wouldn't be as cheap,
plentiful, and powerful as they are today, and the support of other
languages would be a non-issue. If no one in your country can afford a
computer, you don't much care if your national language isn't well

> 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."

Fortunately, most people can see an additional option: taking some
responsibility for themselves. Rather than learning Italian, most Asian
countries have opted to create their own homegrown extensions to existing
technologies for the purposes of solving their own problems. Those countries
that generally avoided the "we're being oppressed because others are doing
more for themselves than they are for us" trap have emerged as increasingly
economically important. Now that they have, there's more and more incentive
to integrate their homegrown solutions with our homegrown solutions for the
benefit of all. The synergies of this are such that already groups that have
done little to promote their own computerization (for whatever reason, like
maybe they've never seen a computer or they've been extinct for a thousand
years) are finding growing support in the industry.

I agree that this system results in the people who actually do the work
getting computer support before others (heavens!), but twenty (ten?) years
from now it's hard to imagine that there will be any ethnic group with a
written language whose language isn't solidly supported by all popular
computer systems, thanks to those scoundrels in the computer industry.

Glen Perkins

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:20:53 EDT