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RE: International business communications and Unicode

From: Eric Jarvis <webmaster@befrienders.org>
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2001 17:40:13 +0100
To: <www-international@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NEBBIHPCGLLJLCMNKHFLMEJFCEAA.webmaster@befrienders.org>
from Carl W. Brown:
>
> Take a web site for example.  You have all you pages encoded in a
character
> set that supports English and other Western European languages.
You want to
> add French or German you create a new set of pages that are
translated into
> French or German and have a separate set of links so that the
French page
> links to another French page and the German page links to another
German
> page.
>
> Now you decide to add Japanese.  You can translate the pages into
Japanese
> and use a separate character encoding to accommodate the Japanese.
The
> problem you have is that you discover that if you use a single
database for
> the web site that you have to be able to store data from any
language in the
> data base.  Unicode is the solution to this problem.  If you want
to mix
> Japanese and Thai for example, there are not a lot of other ways
to do it
> that are as clean and well supported as Unicode.
>
> You now find that some one just updated your Japanese code page
with an
> editor that thought it was updating English text and destroyed the
page
> because it scrambled the data.  (Remember that text is just a
series of
> numbers to the computer)  Now you take the next step and convert
everything
> to Unicode.  Every page will still be translated into different
language but
> you only have one encoding.
>

this is the Unicode dream and maybe one day we'll see something like
it...the actual process at present goes like this...you upload your
lovely Unicode Japanese site only to find that most Japanese users
can't access it, they can only access shift-xjis encoded sites...you
then move on to Russian to discover that most Russian users are
expecting the language to be encoded with Windows 1251...and don't
get me on to Chinese

Unicode is utterly wonderful...I love the idea to death...the ethos
is truly inspiring...the practicality is that Russia, Japan and Hong
Kong got online before Unicode began...the people of those nations
will take some shifting from their current methods of representing
their languages

> The future is different.  My personal view is that web content
will be
> developed without any language specific text.  When the page is
fetched from
> the server the text will be added dynamically.  If I have a phrase
that I
> want to insert, it will be pulled in from a database using the
appropriate
> language.  This will reduce the amount of translation because I
can reuse
> previous translations and not have to translate every new page.

and if I wish to mix languages on a single page...if I wish to use a
German or French quote in a passage of English text?...I like the
broad idea...however over-automisation of language seems to be
disastrous...people are strange about language...you can see it on
our site where users seem to leap between languages at particular
points...a lot of people seem to have different preferred languages
for collecting information and for dealing with personal matters

> English only will never happen.  Different languages express
different
> cultural ideas that can not be expressed in other languages.  The
world has
> to take advantage of these differences.  I have found that a
culture's
> strengths are often also its weaknesses.

very true

--
Eric Jarvis
Assistant Manager, BI Online
Tel: ++44- (0) 20- 8541 4949
website: www.befrienders.org
Received on Thursday, 23 August 2001 12:39:56 GMT

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