Re: MES-1 deficient

From: Markus Kuhn (
Date: Thu Mar 09 2000 - 11:52:34 EST

Otto Stolz wrote on 2000-03-09 14:51 UTC:
> 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!

Yes, yes, everyone involved in the MES process knows this perfectly
well. MES-1 is essentially the ISO 6937 repertoire, and it took us a
long and hard battle in the working group to get at least the EURO SIGN
in, such that at least ISO 8859-15 is also covered completely.

MES-1 exists for exactly only one purpose: To make the Netherlands
government bureaucracy, especially in the person of Johann van Wingen,
formally happy. Of course, as a sensible design, MES-1 should have
included most characters from the CP1252 0x80-0x9f range, and some of
the ISO 6937 could well have been dropped easily. An alternative
proposal for MES-1 that I made over a year ago was

but this was strongly rejected by the Netherlands standards body who
wanted to have the ISO 6937 repertoire and only the ISO 6937 repertoire
as otherwise unspeakably terrible things would happen to its national
drivers licence database and god knows what else.

MES-2 has all the characters you want. Starting with XFree86 4.0, all
the xterm fonts will cover MES-2. Nobody will be interested in MES-1 for
any practical purposes. MES-2 is a relatively fine character repertoire
for Europe, and if you add to it U+2113, U+212E, U+2215, U+25A1, U+25AA,
U+25AB, U+25CF, U+25E6 then it covers even WGL4. I would have liked to
see more mathematical characters in it, but my math collection was voted

> 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.

Dream on ... better use MES-2 instead.


Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK
Email: mkuhn at,  WWW: <>

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