MES-1 deficient (was: MES Multilingual European Unicode Subsets finalised)

From: Otto Stolz (
Date: Thu Mar 09 2000 - 10:57:23 EST

Am 2000-03-09 um 04:20 h PST hat Markus Kuhn geschrieben:
> The CEN/TC304 defined Multilingual European Subsets MES-1, MES-2, and
> MES-3 or ISO 10646 and Unicode have now been finalised and are defined
> in

>From p. 9 of the quoted document (henceforth "CWA/MES:2000"):
> MES-1 (335 characters):
> ...
> Plane 00
> Rows Positions (Cells)
> 20 15 18-19 1C-1D AC

This means that U+201E DOUBLE LOW-9 QUOTATION MARK is excluded
from MES-1. U+201E is the character used as an opening quote symbol
in German typography and text processing.

Thus, a character essential for German is missing from MES-1.
Nevertheless, CWA/MES:2000 claims, on p. 16:
> The Multilingual European Subset No 1 is believed to cover at least
> the languages listed here:
> German

Believed: perhaps. Really covering German: certainly not!

German is one of the widely used languages in Europe. Hence, a subset
dubbed "Multilingual European Subset" definitely should cover its basic

I hope, this MES-1 can be mended, somehow; or otherwise, procurers will
have to learn that MES-1 does not cover German basic text processing needs,
and MES-2 must be asked for, in any case (cf. J. van Wingen's comment,
quoted below).

Another question, already discussed in the Unicode forum, is, wether
it is wise to exclude U+017F LATIN SMALL LETTER LONG S from MES-1.

CWA/MES:2000 has done so with the rationale:
> older documents in English, French, German, Irish Gaelic, etc.
(actually, this is given as an explanation for including it in MES-2,
in section D.2.2.1, p. 17).

As I have said before, German Fraktur (Gothik letters) is still used,
contemporarily (even on German bank notes which certainly are an
example of official printed work). Fraktur differentiates between
"round" and "long" small S (U+0073, and U+017F, respectively); hence,
U+017F is required for correct German orthography whenever Fraktur
is used.

One could argue that MES-2 is adequate for sophisticated requirements,
such as Fraktur, while MES-1 should be enough for mainstream text pro-
cessing. Hence I deem the missing U+201E much more severe than the
missing U+017F. Still, the latter should also be included in MES-1
(when mending the more severe omission) so that the users of mainstream
text processing systems can easily edit the occasional document in
Fraktur without investing in an entirely different, more professional
and expensive, system.

>From Annex F of CWA/MES:2000:
> Comments accompanying Johan van Wingen's Negative ballot:
> Should the three MESs be approved, then these may be adopted by
> industry. Then we may be forced to include MES-2 in our systems.
> We have calculated that this would take NLG 11 million to do that.
> Thus we consider continuing the Work Item to be in conflict with
> our national interests.

Apparently, the same considerations hold for Germany, Austria, and
Switzerland (with a correspondingly enhanced figure, of course).

Best regards,
   Otto Stolz

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