Re: Linguistics and Unicode

From: John Hudson (
Date: Wed Dec 20 2006 - 13:54:34 CST

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    Don Osborn wrote:

    > First, was the main reason your friend stuck with the old product
    > convenience or a perceived problem with Unicode? If the former, I have
    > encountered similar attitudes. And I don't see that as a problem so long as
    > they are not encouraging other colleagues and students who don't know better
    > to use the same solution. On the whole Mike is probably correct that this is
    > ever less a problem in academia. WRT the field and locations outside of
    > relatively technology-privileged (and Anglophone) environments, see below.

    In my experience, people who believe their old (typically non-standard, hack 8-bit
    encoding) solutions and workflows are sufficient and resist switching to Unicode tend to
    have a fairly limited perception of the possibilities of electronic documents. Their needs
    may have been limited, or they may have simply accepted the limitations imposed by their
    software, but in either case they tend not to have given a lot of thought to the future
    life of the documents they are creating. If all they want to do is to produce e.g. some
    paper hand-outs for students, then it might indeed not matter what encoding they use for
    the text and what kind of hacked font charset they use. But if they give any thought to
    the future, and consider the possibility of these same documents as online resources, then
    the benefits of Unicode become more obvious.

    The distinction I usually make when I'm explaining this to users is between 'dead
    documents' and 'live documents'. There's nothing wrong with making a dead document if you
    are reliably assured that you don't need a live document, but if you make only live
    documents, then you have a lot more options in terms of interchange, repurposing and
    republishing, making use of standard tools for searching, sorting, spellchecking etc.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC
    Marie Antoinette was a woman whose core values were chocolate,
    sex, love, nature and Japanese ceramics. Frankly, there are
    worse principles of government than that.  - Karen Burshtein

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