9.327 encoding accented characters

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Tue, 28 Nov 1995 21:35:46 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 327.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[1] From: "C. M. Sperberg-McQueen" (29)
Subject: Re: 9.321 ambiguity in dictionaries

On Mon, 27 Nov 1995 18:30:07 -0500 (EST) Russ Wooldridge said:

[Discussion of how the keyboard shorthand "/e" for e with acute
accent is sometimes understood, sometimes ignored, but most often
misinterpreted by software ...]

>One lesson to be drawn from this is that if one wants to make the
>contents of electronic discussions or references in languages other
>than English truly accessible, diacritics and diacritic
>substitutions should not be used - this aside from linguistic
>considerations that have fuelled much discussion on Humanist.
>Therefore "Academie" and not "Acad/emie", please.

I'd rather draw a different lesson from this: namely, that software
developers need to be educated in some of the facts of textual life,
including notably the fact that not all text is written in English,
and that we should seek out, and use, software which is more
intelligent about problems of this sort, rather than putting up with
the linguistic shortcomings of (say) our colleagues at Minnesota,
who wrote the Gopher text search software.

The notion that we should systematically misspell words in languages
which use diacritics -- for the sake of current generations of
ill-conceived and ill-implemented software! -- is repugnant, and I
refuse to do it.

Therefore "Acad&eacute;mie" or (if you must) "Acad/emie", please,
and NOT "Academie", which looks merely like a typo or like archaic

-C. M. Sperberg-McQueen
ACH / ACL / ALLC Text Encoding Initiative
University of Illinois at Chicago
u35395@uicvm.uic.edu / u35395@uicvm

"Clarity, Precision and Ease of use does not mean Confinement, Verbosity
and Futility." -Jean Pierre Gaspart