Re: Multilingual Documents

From: Curtis Clark (
Date: Sat Dec 04 1999 - 13:01:38 EST

At 05:31 AM 12/4/99 -0800, Michael Everson wrote:
>The rules (for English) are that naturalized words (like "façade" and
>"après-ski") are written in plain type (accent stripping is not the rule)
>but that foreign words (like "auberge" and "berceuse") are written in

This touches on another category of "hidden" multilingual texts, those that
include scientific names of organisms. Scientific names are by decree in
Latin (although truly not the Latin of Caesar or Pliny), and are italicized
in English for that reason. This convention has been picked up by many
languages that don't use the Latin alphabet, so that references in Chinese
may have scientific names in italic face and other words in the Latin
alphabet in upright (my examples are old floras; I don't know if this
practice still holds).

Names of groupings of species (such as families, orders, and phyla) are
inconsistently italicized in most languages, to the extent that the
International Botanical Congress made a recommendation that they be
henceforth italicized. Part of the issue is that Family names, for example,
have vernacular forms in many European languages, but not English (e.g. the
poppy family is Papaveraceae in Latin, and effectively in English,
Papaveraceen auf Deutsch, papaveráceas en español, et papaveracées en

This is somewhat peripheral to this list (since biological Latin can be
represented fully in ASCII), but it relates to the issue of proofing tools
and i18n. A properly implemented set of proofing tools for scientific names
would treat them as a separate language, and should work equally in any
localized software (e.g. Word 2000, in its apparently small number of
flavors). In practice, though, they are included in "custom" spell-check
dictionaries (as "biology terms", in English), and their hyphenation is
left to the vagaries of the algorithms of the local language.

Curtis Clark
Biological Sciences Department Voice: (909) 869-4062
California State Polytechnic University FAX: (909) 869-4078
Pomona CA 91768-4032 USA

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