Using non-ascii symbols

Runsun Pan python.pan at
Fri Jan 27 13:50:03 EST 2006

On 1/27/06, Magnus Lycka <lycka at> wrote:
> > 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. ;-)
> The Germans just had a spelling reform. Norway had a major
> language reform in the mid 19th century to get rid of the old
> Danish influences (and still have two completely different ways
> of spelling everything). You never know what will happen. You
> are also embracing the metric system, inch by inch... ;)

The simplified chinese exists due to the call for modernization of
language decades ago. That involved the 'upside-down' of almost
entire culture --- nowadays people in China can't even read most of
the documents written just 70~80 years ago. Imagine its damage
to the 'historical sense' of modern chinese !!! The "anti-simplification"
force was thus imaginaribly huge. Actually, not only the original
plan of simplification wasn't completed (only proceded to the 1st
stage; the 2nd stage was put off), there are calls for reversal -- back
to the traditional forms -- lately. Obviously, language reform is not
trivial; Especially, for asian countries, it is probably not as easy as it
is for western countries.

China is still a central authoritarian country. Even with that government
they were unable to push this thru. If any one would even dream about
language reform in democratic Taiwan, I bet the proposal won't even
pass the first step in the congress.

> Actually, it seems that recent habit of sending text messages
> via mobile phones is the prime driver for reformed spelling
> these days.

Well, to solve the problem you can either (1) reform the spelling
of a language to meet the limitation of mobile phones, or (2)
advancing the input device on the mobile phones such that they
can input the language of your choice. For most asian languages,
(1) is certainly out of question.

> > 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.
> I'm sure the same principles could be used to make a very fast
> and less misspelling prone editing environment though. That
> could actually be a reason to step away from vi or Emacs (but
> I assume it would soon work in Emacs too...)

True. Actually Google, and some other desktop
applications use 'auto-complete' feature already. It might seem
impressive to most western users but, from where I was from
(Taiwan), this 'phrase-input', as well as "showing up in the order
of the most-frequently-use for any specific user", have been
around for about 20 years.

>> 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
>> good.
> You certainly have a point there. Even when I don't work in an
> English speaking environment as I do now, I try to write all
> comments and variable names etc in English. You never know when
> you need to show a code snippet to people who don't read Swedish.
> Also, ASCII lacks three of our letters and properly translated
> is often better than written with the wrong letters.

If there will be someday that any programming language can
be input with some form like Big5, I believe its intended target
will ONLY be people using only Big5. That means, if it exists, the
chance of showing it to other-language-users probably be extremely
nil, Think about this: there are still a whole lot of people who don't
know English at all. If no such a 'Big5-specific' programming
tool around, their chances of learning programming is completely
rid off.

Runsun Pan, PhD
python.pan at
Nat'l Center for Macromolecular Imaging

More information about the Python-list mailing list