11.0379 characters: what to do?

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Sat, 1 Nov 1997 17:03:19 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 379.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 12:01:02 -0500 (EST)
From: Stefan Sinclair <4ss42@qsilver.queensu.ca>
Subject: diacritical egotists

> From: "Jim Marchand" <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
> This subject seems to come up at regular intervals on whatever list one
> is on. It frequently comes about because of egotists who imagine that
> whatever is on their particular machine is on everyones. The solution
> is at hand, but collective we do not seem to want to get it done.

As the sender of the original message in French, I will read your use of
the word "egotist" as someone who sends a message with extended characters
and *expects* that everyone else will be able to read it.

I wonder though what short-term solution you suggest for non-egocentric
individuals who don't expect that everyone will be able to read their
messages but who are unwilling to simply succumb to the tyranny of
anglicizing their messages. I think you'll agree that as far as the
sender goes there simply isn't an adequate short-term solution. One knows
that one's message will be difficult to read for certain readers. The
choice then becomes one of deciding which is the best of poor
alternatives. Given the wide-spread use of ISO 8859-1 on the Internet, its
status as an International standard and the possibility for most
system administrators to make it usable from the server side of things, it
seems to me the best choice for now (though most of us look forward to
Unicode of course) - if anyone has counter-arguments to this positions,
I'd be very interested in hearing them.

It's true that this subject comes up frequently in various newsgroups,
especially those with some non-English participation. The discussion
usually passes quickly though, with at best a collective decry of the
current circumstances. I would like to think that given the nature and
readership of this seminar, we could come up with something a little more
constructive. As I wrote to Willard McCarty, I think it's shameful
(through no fault of his) that I have access to computers that will allow
me to televideo conference over the Internet and yet I can't confidently
send a e-mail in French (to an International readership). Granted, not
everyone has access to machines that can televideo conference, but the
fact that messages with diacriticals have been possible for a long time
now makes this issue even more anachronous.

So... at all levels (sender, administrator, recipient) any practical

By the way, I should like to point out that an HTML document might
represent my name below as St&eacute;fan; who knows what brutalities will
be inflicted upon it in transit from my screen to yours.


Stéfan Sinclair, Queen's University (Canada)

WWW: <http://qsilver.queensu.ca/~4ss42/> HCR - Rih: <http://qsilver.queensu.ca/QI/HCR/>

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