Using non-ascii symbols

Terry Hancock hancock at
Thu Jan 26 10:44:52 EST 2006

On Thu, 26 Jan 2006 01:12:10 -0600
Runsun Pan <python.pan at> wrote:
> For the tests that I tried earlier, using han characters
> as the variable names doesn't seem to be possible (Syntax
> Error) in python. I'd love to see if I can use han char
> for all those keywords like import, but it doesn't work.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure we're talking about the future here.

> That depends. People with ages in the middle or older
> probably have very rare experience of typing han
> characters. But with the popularity of computer
> as well as the development of excellent input packages,
> and most importantly,
> the online-chats that many teenagers hooking to, next
> several geneartions can type han char easily and
> comfortably.

That's interesting. I think many people in the West tend to
imagine han/kanji characters as archaisms that will
disappear (because to most Westerners they seem impossibly
complex to learn and use, "not suited for the modern
world"). I used to think this was likely, although I always
thought the characters were beautiful, so it would be a

After taking a couple of semesters of Japanese, though, I've
come to appreciate why they are preferred.  Getting rid of
them would be like convincing English people to kunvurt to
pur fonetik spelin'.

Which isn't happening either, I can assure you. ;-)

> One thing that is lack in other languages is the "phrase
> input"---- almost every
> han input package provides this customizable feature. With
> all these combined,
> many of youngesters can type as fast as they talk. I
> believe many of them input
> han characters much faster than inputting English.

I guess this is like Canna/SKK server for typing Japanese.
I've never tried to localize my desktop to Japanese (and I
don't think I want to -- I can't read it all that well!),
but I've used kanji input in Yudit and a kanji-enabled

I'm not sure I understand how this works, but surely if
Python can provide readline support in the interactive
shell, it ought to be able to handle "phrase input"/"kanji
input."  Come to think of it, you probably can do this by
running the interpreter in a kanji terminal -- but Python
just doesn't know what to do with the characters yet.

> The "side effect" of this technology advance might be that
> in the future the
> simplified chinese characters might deprecate, 'cos
> there's no need to simplify
> any more.

Heh. I must say the traditional characters are easier for
*me* to read. But that's probably because the Japanese kanji
are based on them, and that's what I learned. I never could
get the hang of "grass hand" or the "cursive" Chinese han
character style.

I would like to point out also, that as long as Chinese
programmers don't go "hog wild" and use obscure characters,
I suspect that I would have much better luck reading their
programs with han characters, than with, say, the Chinese
phonetic names!  Possibly even better than what they thought
were the correct English words, if their English isn't that


Terry Hancock (hancock at
Anansi Spaceworks

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