13.0224 multilingual online communication: Unicode

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Mon, 4 Oct 1999 22:30:24 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 224.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Mon, 04 Oct 1999 22:27:37 +0100
From: Jack Lynch <jlynch@andromeda.rutgers.edu>
Subject: Re: 13.0223 multilingual online communication: not good!

Arie Zukerman writes:

In spite of the fast growing number of the multi-language
users (other than English) joining the internet every
single day, they (we) experience difficulties
communicating by email using their native languages for
global and local communication. I am talking about a
email system that will let you send and receive emails
using any possible language from-and-to any computer in
the world without the need to download fonts or any other

You'll be pleased to see that a new standard is under
development: Unicode. You can find full details at


The nearly 50,000 characters in its character sets (so far) cover
those needed in most of the major the writing systems in the
Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, India, and Africa.
Unless you need the Pahawh Hmong or Tifinagh alphabets, you'll be
in good shape with Unicode . . .

.. . . once it's supported. Unfortunately, no widely available
software uses the standard yet. But Unicode is big enough and
important enough that, in a software-generation or two, most of
the Web browsers and E-mail programs will have to take it into
consideration. So the limitations of ASCII's puny 128 characters
should one day be history. Until then, nothing to do but
download the special character sets.

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