Re: (off-topic) Miscellaneous comments/questions.

From: Alex Bochannek (
Date: Mon Jul 17 2000 - 00:20:06 EDT

(Several comments combined. I kept the [off-topic] tag since it really

> Thanks for the nice trip-report, Alex.

You are most welcome! It has been an interesting experience to walk
through the streets and try to be more aware of issues surrounding
language and script. It gave the cultural experience of travel an
additional dimension.

I appreciate the comments about the legal requirements of using French
in France (and Québec and doubtlessly other places) while there is
some pressure by the advertising field as well as technical jargon
that heavily emphasizes English. Of course, I was aware of the general
legal surroundings but did not realize how this is implemented with
billboards, for example. It may be interesting to point out that I saw
billboards in France and Germany advertising identical products with
the identical English slogan except that the French version used the
translation footnote.

The native French speakers on this list may like to hear that I saw an
American schoolboy on the plane who was returning to the U.S. with his
French class and wore a T-shirt with a number of maybe three dozens or
more flags on it, including the UN, EU, and Red Cross flags which read
across the top (I apologize in advance for my poor French): "Nous
Parlons Français! Et Vous?"

The comment about "German language" and especially the hilarious Jil
Sander quote were interesting. Yes, the etymology of a great many
words in English and German are interwoven in interesting ways and
Middle French seems to have influenced English a lot as well (I can
recommend the Word of the Day mailing list at for some
daily etymological entertainment.) What the common German speaker
seems to object to is the forced use of English where German would do
just fine. Or where marketing decides that they need to give the
product an international flair. A similar example to the France
Telecom one is this: Cell phone/Mobiles in German(y) are called
"Handy" - a term coined by an ad agency for the Deutsche
Telekom. Amazingly, nobody seems to object to this particular one
while people were almost up in arms when the word "peanuts" become
fashionable to indicate small sums of money (first used publicly by a
bank manager who referred to a tens (hundreds?) of millions of DM loan
that a construction firm defaulted on.) A skit on a German comedy TV
show may sum it all up. It portraits a fake computer information TV
show and every other verb is constructed as "ge-<english verb>-t" as
in "gelookt".

> This we are actually building for our wireless and satellite asset
> management system. Given a latitude, a longitude and an event time, it will
> return the local time when this event occured. I believe to have all the
> elements (GIS maps, TZ definitions) to build relatively quickly a prototype
> (thanks to all for the pointers supplied).

Does this system include historical changes in time zones, e.g., the
redefinition of summer time [DST] in Australia this year for the
Olympics? What about the switch to the Gregorian calendar? Mapping to
other calendar systems? Leap seconds? Can this part of your system be
made available to the public so that volunteers could add other
locale-specific information?

Finally, is there a font/typesetting expert on this list who can (off
line) answer my question about different font styles in different
writing systems?



This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:21:05 EDT