RE: A basic question on encoding Latin characters

From: Reynolds, Gregg (
Date: Tue Sep 28 1999 - 20:38:21 EDT

I'll top that: I think there is substantial risk that Unicode will hasten
rather than prevent the demise of endangered languages. Look at the
economic/ecology of computation, and then consider the trouble it has
getting it right even for languages with major clout (it's still broken for
Arabic in my opinion). And it doesn't only affect computer geeks; I
recently saw an article about some guy in South Africa teaching illiterate
trackers to use Palm Pilots to record wildlife observations. The smaller
and cheaper computational devices become, the more thorough their
penetration of populations on the periphery will be, and the more intense
the pressure will be on linguistic minorities to adopt the dominant language
or dialect. Technological instruments like Unicode, far from being
ideologically neutral (as some messages on this list have strongly implied),
are just as freighted politically as any other Big Project (dams, roads,
etc), and must be viewed in a much broader context than the merely


> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 1999 6:59 PM
> To: Unicode List
> Subject: Re: A basic question on encoding Latin characters
> Glen:
> >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.
> I have no argument with the bulk of your message. I'm not as
> confident, though, that on the pace we're on now every ethnic
> group with a written language will be solidly supported by any,
> let alone all, popular computer systems 10 or even 20 years
> from now. I certainly want to do what I can to contribute to
> that end, though, and will certainly be glad if your prediction
> turns out to be true.
> Peter

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