[Mailman-i18n] 'Funny' characters in real names?

Franšois Pinard pinard@iro.umontreal.ca
Fri, 11 Oct 2002 10:47:26 -0400

[Martin v. L÷wis]

> I'm personally quite unhappy with iso-8859-15: it was invented at a time
> when Unicode was already there, and the world didn't really need any more
> character sets.

And there is also these MES charsets, too.  I did not monitor them closely,
but they are surely going to reach us one of these days...

While many people see new 8-bit charsets as unwelcome, they fill a need.
Unicode bears with it a few myths (simplicity, orthogonality, universality)
which attract people at first, and which are also fed by incomplete or naive
implementations, and fanatic proponents.  But deeper one dives, deeper one
realises that Unicode is quite complex after all, and the origin of a new
lucrative industry where only Unicode specialists have a privileged niche.

In real practice, many see that Unicode is not so democratic.  The handling
of strings is fundamental in computer science, nations invent new _simple_
character sets as a way of not loosing control of their own national
computer industries over foreign specialists for artificial complexity.

My usual explanations are fantasies.  Supposing UTF-8 is not coincident with
ASCII for U0000-U007F, imagine how Americans would react is asked to give up
using ASCII.  Another simple fantasy: supposing Microsoft did not push for
Unicode, try figuring a place on this planet where Unicode would be
prominent or prevailing today.  It does not take a lot of Zen meditation to
see that Unicode might be perceived in some foreign countries as an American
threat to the local autonomy, as far as computers as concerned.

Do you feel like fantasising further?  Imagine that Americans (this holds
for French, German, Vietnamese, and all those who got a special treat in
Unicode with pre-combined characters) were asked that _some_ letters in
their alphabet be only representable by combinable sequences, so Americans
are now stuck all over with a variable number of bits per English character.
Do you think Unicode would stand _any_ chance of ever being accepted in
America? (or France, Germany, etc.)  Such thoughts might help us understand
why 8-bits characters are still going to multiply on this planet.

Franšois Pinard   http://www.iro.umontreal.ca/~pinard