Linked by Eisel Mazard on Thu 14th Jun 2012 22:01 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes The average computer user might think that the number of languages their operating system supports is pretty long. OSX supports 22 languages, and Microsoft claims to support 96, but they're counting different regional dialects multiple times. But there are over 6000 languages, and though many of them are spoken by a dwindling few, there are some languages that are spoken by millions of people that are supported very poorly, if at all, by computer operating systems. The reason for the support being poor is that the people who speak those languages are poor, and are not good "markets." It's only because of the efforts of a few dedicated people that computing support for languages such as Burmese, Sinhalese, Pali, Cambodian, and Lao have been as good as they are, but the trends for the future are not good.
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this is how languages die
by tidux on Thu 14th Jun 2012 22:40 UTC
tidux
Member since:
2011-08-13

Younger speakers of these languages may decide to just communicate in English when using computers rather than enduring the frustration of trying to get their native tongues working on their systems. As more and more of humanity's interactions take place via computers, this marginalizes the "incompatible" languages. In the same way that English-only schools in the US nearly wiped out many Native American languages, the Internet is going to put the squeeze on the Third World. Who knows, we may get a global standard language this century after all.

Reply Score: 5

RE: this is how languages die
by zima on Fri 15th Jun 2012 12:23 UTC in reply to "this is how languages die"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Thing is, for a longish period in the meantime, this marginalizes many, many "incompatible" people. Deprives them of a starting point, a foothold which enables or at least greatly eases going further. Excludes from, hampers overall advancement.

And so the digital divide could contribute to maintaining or even enlarging other divides.

Look at those three scripts for example - imagine how you would feel when seated in front of a computer using exclusively one of them, how it would impact you eagerness to explore more the possibilities of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Greekalphabet.svg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Romanian_Cyrillic_-_Lord's_Prayer_text.svg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Georgian_Alphabet_Georgia_Sample....

(even better, browse a bit http://el.wikipedia.org/ or http://bg.wikipedia.org/ or http://ka.wikipedia.org/ )

...and those are two official scripts of the EU, and the third one used in more or less European place, mostly still relatively close culturally to yours.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: this is how languages die
by tidux on Fri 15th Jun 2012 21:45 UTC in reply to "RE: this is how languages die"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

That's a stupid example. Computers have worked properly with Greek and Cyrillic since what, the 80s?

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: this is how languages die
by zima on Fri 15th Jun 2012 23:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: this is how languages die"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

I see, you managed to miss how that wasn't an example, but an analogy, and not about computers ability to display them...

And I have perhaps even more telling one: Blackletter (Gothic) script, used in Germany well into XX century (I have some books in it after grandfather), just more or less Latin alphabet - but hardly readable to somebody not used to it.
Sure, it easily works properly with computers ...which doesn't change its relative ineligibility, its potential alienating qualities (if somebody would, say, switch just the fonts - not even the language - to Blackletter at your computer)

Edited 2012-06-15 23:05 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: this is how languages die
by tidux on Sat 16th Jun 2012 14:27 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: this is how languages die"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

Blackletter script doesn't work well on computers because the font sizes would need to be enormous to be legible at current DPI. Maybe this new trend of >200 DPI screens will fix that.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: this is how languages die
by zima on Sat 16th Jun 2012 14:55 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: this is how languages die"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Blackletter doesn't work well, isn't very legible anywhere, also in print - why it was abandoned, and why I mentioned it as one more analogy to experience/imagine possible exclusionary qualities of alien scripts (like Latin ones are for tons of people)

Edited 2012-06-16 15:06 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: this is how languages die
by mrstep on Mon 18th Jun 2012 02:57 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: this is how languages die"
mrstep Member since:
2009-07-18

Well you were the one calling it an example in your previous post. ;)

In any case, I'm sure there are many fantastic reasons to keep around all of the thousands of languages that were spawned because of the inability of people to cover meaningful geographic distances quickly, but there are probably more reasons supporting people being able to understand each other instead.

For "analogy" (I kid...), if you post in some Khmer dialect here, you're unlikely to get many responses. It's not only not much of a market for OS vendors, it's limiting in terms of your own economic opportunities. So it goes.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: this is how languages die
by zima on Mon 18th Jun 2012 10:22 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: this is how languages die"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

That was more a common EN figure of speech (used by somebody for whom it's a 3rd language, so less flexibility); or, at most, an example by analogy - not a simple direct one, like it was (a bit rudely) dismissed by the other poster.

Anyway, yes, efforts to improve communication and mutual understanding between people are great - but the point is, the initial tools meant to facilitate them better be in the language and script those people are fluent in. Otherwise, the results might be mixed...
(an example: once, for less than two months, I shared the dorm room with somebody who came from a far - and of course, to study, he should first learn the local language; there were no lessons in his native one, so he opted - before coming here, I presume - to attend Polish lessons for EN speakers; the thing is, he basically only pretended he has a grasp of EN in the first place; suffice to say... two months)

BTW, I think "spawned because of the inability of people to cover meaningful geographic distances quickly" does not cover it fully. Not only it's easy to find places where closely neighbouring (even "packed" on quite small area) languages and scripts aren't mutually intelligible. But also, for centuries at my place, it wasn't even "neighbouring" but more like "intertwined" - people tend to self-segregate, it seems.

Reply Score: 2

Good point, but not very constructive
by kragil on Thu 14th Jun 2012 23:05 UTC
kragil
Member since:
2006-01-04

_Every_ country has a few rich people or a governemnt who could fund better support for their language in Linux. Talk to them or just plan a kickstarter funding.
"It is not your fault that the world is like it is, it only your fault if it stays that way."

Reply Score: 6

Fascinating article
by KLU9 on Thu 14th Jun 2012 23:36 UTC
KLU9
Member since:
2006-12-06

the world is much larger than the nations that produce comic books that are read by computer programmers.
Oh no you di''n't!

But seriously, fascinating article. Although I do feel it missed an opportunity, namely: why was language support so much better on older Mac OSes than now?

The implication in the article is that it isn't commercially interesting to Apple to support them. But surely living languages like Burmese or Khmer are more commercially viable now than in the 1980s, not less.

Maybe there's some greying ex-Apple employee who could be tracked down to offer the straight dope. Was the greater support back then the result of financial support? Some technical issue? A senior employee who just had a love of languages?

Fingers crossed for such a follow-up ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: Fascinating article
by zima on Fri 15th Jun 2012 11:50 UTC in reply to "Fascinating article"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

But surely Apple isn't the same company as back then...

They were pretty much the first with thorough and sane support for Polish alphabet (versus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazovia_encoding simply exchanging similarly looking letters in firmwares, in original DOS code page, Ł instead of £ for example; to be fair, pretty much the only approach without access to source code; contributed to rarity of PL keyboards - we mostly just use US keyboard, right Alt as AltGr in combination with original Latin letter for diacritics).
And afterwards also with the first, IIRC, properly localised OS - when not only Macintoshes were prohibitively expensive (relatively, here; think in the range of annual salary), severely limiting their potential market, but also possibly still under CoCom embargo (as all 32-bit CPUs, I believe), at least formally. Also pretty much the only computers equipped often with PL keyboards.

That was of course relatively simple, compared to the issues from the article - "just" adding diacritics to few Latin letters, and quite straightforward translation into similarly structured script (mostly by some members of the relatively large Polish diaspora, I guess).

Still - yeah, why? Wishing to quickly take over DTP in then-emerging markets? (or education some time later, where proper localisation and keyboards were undoubtedly desirable; though there was possibly more behind that choice... http://www.osnews.com/thread?489120 - from 3rd section, "Furthermore")
Maybe also to accommodate the needs of diaspora?

Anyway, now they are a company which openly states their aversion to target "lesser" poor people, aims for the "premium" ones...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Fascinating article
by Jaktar on Sat 16th Jun 2012 17:28 UTC in reply to "Fascinating article"
Jaktar Member since:
2011-06-03

"why was language support so much better on older Mac OSes than now"

Profiteering. As Thom already said, it takes paid workers to do all this stuff. In an effort to make another dollar, Apple is allowing this to happen. Their mantra of "Our way or the highway" pretty much sums it up. They already know what you want and they are giving it to you.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Fascinating article
by mrstep on Mon 18th Jun 2012 03:13 UTC in reply to "Fascinating article"
mrstep Member since:
2009-07-18

Why was the OS X support better? Well didn't you hear: "Mac's OSX is now in its creaking (error-ridden) final years".

Huh? It's significantly more stable and well tuned for multi-core/multi-processor work thanks to the great Snow Leopard release. Lion not so much... But there are a whole lot more creaking, error-ridden languages out there, and it sounds like some of them may be dead before OSX.

Anyway, I agree, the more relevant question would have been why they have been dropped from OS X and whether these areas can somehow promote the inclusion of their languages in OS releases. Given the likely lack of economic incentives and presumably (at least in the case of OS X which is targeted to Apple hardware) lower user base thanks to at least marginally higher cost, it's maybe more surprising the support for these languages has lasted as long as it did. There's a fair bit of extra overhead to keep those languages up to date, not to mention support for more esoteric character handling.

Very cool to see a mention of Hawaiian self-determination though. The U.S. history of treatment of the Philippines, Hawaii, etc. are truly disturbing, especially given how little of it is explained in the U.S. education system. Of course the Japanese attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, but... Hey, that wasn't actually part of America. How did a U.S. naval base end up there? How about in the Philippines? Fun stuff - so much dirty history that gets glossed over if mentioned at all.

Reply Score: 1

What is the problem?
by jburnett on Fri 15th Jun 2012 00:37 UTC
jburnett
Member since:
2012-03-29

Companies would support more languages if there was a profit in doing so. Therefore, either there is little to no demand or the cost to supply the demand is too high. If there are millions of customers who would like to have the service, it must be that the service is too expensive to deliver. Is this the case? Is it just that it costs too much engineer time to make a profit?

Or, is it because these languages are very difficult/different to describe in binary? A fraction of a millisecond can make all the difference for something as fundamental (and repeatedly called) as the font renderer. If adding support for difficult languages means degrading the performance, even if it just makes the system "feel" a tiny bit slower, then it makes sense to drop the language. After all, if there is one thing us comic book loving gamers love more than, well, comic books, it is performance.

Reply Score: 1

RE: What is the problem?
by Soulbender on Fri 15th Jun 2012 02:14 UTC in reply to "What is the problem?"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Or, is it because these languages are very difficult/different to describe in binary?


Describe in binary?

even if it just makes the system "feel" a tiny bit slower, then it makes sense to drop the language.


So we should drop all natural languages from computing then? Don't be silly, the impact on users not using those languages would be negligible.

[q]After all, if there is one thing us comic book loving gamers love more than, well, comic books, it is performance.[q/]

There's a reason no-one takes comic book loving gamers seriously, especially when it comes to computing.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: What is the problem?
by jburnett on Fri 15th Jun 2012 02:38 UTC in reply to "RE: What is the problem?"
jburnett Member since:
2012-03-29

"Or, is it because these languages are very difficult/different to describe in binary?


Describe in binary?
"

Computers only deal with binary. Everything else is an abstraction. Some things lend themselves to binary representation. Take the Latin alphabet for example. It has 26 letters (52 with upper/lower) and 10 digits. It can be described with a binary string of 6 bits, 7 if you want all the extra punctuation, 8 if you want all the symbols.

Alternatively, Chinese has a much larger alphabet, but as far as I know the characters are always rendered the same. So character no. 77 will always be rendered the same way.

The article said that in some of these other languages things cannot be described as easily. It implied that the way to render one character was based on the other characters around it.

Personally, I find this concept fascinating. I had never considered that the way I visually represent a sound/concept might be influenced by other concepts/sounds around it. Human creativity never ceases to amaze me.

That does not mean it would be easy to map such a system to an array of characters. This may not be the problem. Thus why my comment was titled "what is the problem?"

However, it does play into the next point.

"even if it just makes the system "feel" a tiny bit slower, then it makes sense to drop the language.


So we should drop all natural languages from computing then? Don't be silly, the impact on users not using those languages would be negligible.
"

No, don't drop them from computing, just from the primary font rendering system. In computer graphics, negligible adds up quickly. You have to do a lot of calculations in a very small amount of time. Delay is perceived as slow or unresponsive. Even something as quick as a check to see which font rendering system to use can be expensive when done a lot.

"After all, if there is one thing us comic book loving gamers love more than, well, comic books, it is performance.


There's a reason no-one takes comic book loving gamers seriously, especially when it comes to computing.
"

Haha, if this was true, then this article would be talking about the great new font rendering system that handles some even more creative language. Instead, a large segment of the computer industry is driven by video games.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: What is the problem?
by sorpigal on Fri 15th Jun 2012 12:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What is the problem?"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Computers only deal with binary. Everything else is an abstraction. Some things lend themselves to binary representation. Take the Latin alphabet for example. It has 26 letters (52 with upper/lower) and 10 digits. It can be described with a binary string of 6 bits, 7 if you want all the extra punctuation, 8 if you want all the symbols.

Your understanding is simplistic. Try representing all cursive script in 255 bytes. Quiz: How many different ways are there to write "g"? What about "q"? Do you realize that the answer for "q" will be *at least eight*?

Alternatively, Chinese has a much larger alphabet, but as far as I know the characters are always rendered the same. So character no. 77 will always be rendered the same way.

That depends highly on your definition of "the same."

Personally, I find this concept fascinating. I had never considered that the way I visually represent a sound/concept might be influenced by other concepts/sounds around it. Human creativity never ceases to amaze me.

Do they still teach handwriting?

Write the following words in english long hand:

grotesque
Grotesque
Quiche
Petunia

How many *distinct* glyphs do you see?

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: What is the problem?
by jburnett on Fri 15th Jun 2012 14:33 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: What is the problem?"
jburnett Member since:
2012-03-29

Your understanding is simplistic. Try representing all cursive script in 255 bytes. Quiz: How many different ways are there to write "g"? What about "q"? Do you realize that the answer for "q" will be *at least eight*?

Yes, but you can use any of those representations for 'q' and people will know it is the same letter. The original post made it sound like slightly altering the rendering changed the meaning. Thus, when the letter was changed by a new OS rendering engine, it was "unreadable."

Do they still teach handwriting?

Write the following words in english long hand:

grotesque
Grotesque
Quiche
Petunia

How many *distinct* glyphs do you see?

I learned handwriting in two forms, print and cursive. Print I still use heavily, though I blend it with cursive a bit when scribbling notes really fast. Do I expect some vendor to support my personal script, no. Do they support a language almost identical and fully readable, yes. Heck, I don't even like my script, I just cannot hand write as cleanly and quickly as a computer can render.

This discussion isn't about writing words to look pretty or conform to some sense of artistic style. It is about being able to render a language so that it can be written/read by somebody who knows the language.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: What is the problem?
by sorpigal on Fri 15th Jun 2012 14:43 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: What is the problem?"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Yes, but you can use any of those representations for 'q' and people will know it is the same letter.

This happens to work in English.

The original post made it sound like slightly altering the rendering changed the meaning.

Exactly, in some languages it does. Imagine if software were to slightly alter each 'e' into 'c', which after all looks quite close. Imagine the confusion if this sort of error were common.

My attempt was to get you to understand by using a familiar analogy. Consider the difficulty of describing how to form the various glyphs, and the large number of such glyphs, needed for English cursive writing.

Do I expect some vendor to support my personal script, no. Do they support a language almost identical and fully readable, yes. Heck, I don't even like my script, I just cannot hand write as cleanly and quickly as a computer can render.

Your personal way of rendering the letters when you write, your style if you will, is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the glyphs you use, or anyone uses, when writing cursive script. In order for a computer to represent cursive script it must know about all of the variations that we all use as a natural part of cursive writing. This is important as an aid to your understanding of the problem: Some languages do not have a non-cursive form and may in fact load grammatically critical information in to the bits and pieces between letters.

This discussion isn't about writing words to look pretty or conform to some sense of artistic style. It is about being able to render a language so that it can be written/read by somebody who knows the language.

Yes it is, and I kept my comments firmly on that footing. I am not talking about stylistic variations, although it should be noted that these ought to be supported. If that's what you took from my comments you're harder to reach than I thought.

Edited 2012-06-15 14:45 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: What is the problem?
by westlake on Fri 15th Jun 2012 20:23 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: What is the problem?"
westlake Member since:
2010-01-07

This discussion isn't about writing words to look pretty or conform to some sense of artistic style. It is about being able to render a language so that it can be written/read by somebody who knows the language.


But someone who knows the language and culture will care about appearance and style.

That is, after all, what made the Mac the platform of choice for what would become known as desktop publishing.

Reply Score: 2

Thanks!
by NathanHill on Fri 15th Jun 2012 02:32 UTC
NathanHill
Member since:
2006-10-06

This was an unusual article and something I hadn't noticed before. I tend to get rid of all languages but English and Korean (and maybe Spanish) on my Macs. It seems like the list is longer than 22, but I have to admit I don't pay that much attention. In the past when I tried to render Korean in Linux, I had absolutely no luck. It just didn't work after installing what I thought I was supposed to install.

Anyway, thanks for writing this different perspective.

Reply Score: 2

International Phonetic Alphabet
by ozonehole on Fri 15th Jun 2012 02:38 UTC
ozonehole
Member since:
2006-01-07

If all you want is write a language phonetically correct, there is no problem. You can use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet

You can write English with the IPA, and ditto for Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, indeed every single language. It is far more phonetically accurate than the Roman alphabet, or Cyrillic, Hebrew, Arabic, etc.

Of course, it is not traditional, and thus may offend the sensibilities of those who think that their traditions are being trampled by modern society. Another disadvantage is that only a small percentage of the world's population has even heard of the IPA, much less knows how to read it. Yet it is not difficult to learn. Study it for a few days or a week, and you've got it.

The vast majority of the world's 6000 or so languages have no written script, so the IPA is ideal for those. However, Christian missionaries and language committees from the UN and elsewhere do not seem to be interested in spreading the IPA - they push Romanization if no ready traditional script is available.

The main problem with Romanization is that with only 26 letters available, it cannot represent every sound in every language. Indeed, the Roman alphabet isn't well suited to English, because it only has five vowels. Thus, we are told in elementary school that English has five "short vowels" and five "long vowels" for a total of 10. In fact, there are 10 vowels in spoken English, and there is no such thing as a "short" or "long" vowel - it's a band-aid approach to the problem that Latin had five spoken vowels and English has 10. In the IPA, the 10 vowels have 10 different symbols.

I understand that people like their traditions, but I don't actually see much value in creating fonts for a traditional script that only 10 people in the world can read. If somebody wants to volunteer to do the work, then great, but don't be surprised if software developers don't jump in to enthusiastically support such efforts. Also don't be surprised if Third World governments don't come up with the funding for this - their scarce funds can probably be put to better use.

Edited 2012-06-15 02:45 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE: International Phonetic Alphabet
by jal_ on Fri 15th Jun 2012 08:16 UTC in reply to "International Phonetic Alphabet"
jal_ Member since:
2006-11-02

Please, please, please, don't go ranting on a topic you seem to know very little about. So many errors in there, I don't have the time to point them out (ok, one: English has far more than 10 vowels).

Reply Score: 6

RE: International Phonetic Alphabet
by Radio on Fri 15th Jun 2012 11:01 UTC in reply to "International Phonetic Alphabet"
Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

Unlike metrication, any reform in spelling should preferably take place over a long period of time in order to prevent confusion (freight=frate; eight=ate?). It should also be completely coherent, and the invention of new letters (vide the pseudo-Icelandic known as ITA) or the assumption of many diacritical marks, such as bespatter the pages of modern Slavonic texts, should, so far as possible, be avoided.

It was suggested — by, among others, G. B. Shaw — that a convenient method of revision would involve the alteration or deletion of one letter, or associated group of letters, per year, thus giving the populace time to absorb the change.

For example, in Year 1, that useless letter 'c' would be dropped to be replased by either 'k' or 's', and likewise 'x' would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which 'c' would be retained would be in the 'ch' formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might well reform 'w' spelling, so that 'which' and 'one' would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish 'y', replasing it with 'i', and Iear 4 might fiks the 'g/j' anomali wonse and for all.

Jeneralli, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear, with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing the vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Ier 15 or sou, it wud fainali be posible tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez 'c', 'y' and 'x' — bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez — tu riplais 'ch', 'sh' and 'th' rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers of orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld. Haweve, sins xe Wely, xe Airiy, and xe Skots du not spik Ingliy, xei wud hev to hev a speling siutd tu xer oun lengwij. Xei kud, haweve, orlweiz lern Ingliy az a sekond lengwij at skuul!

Reply Score: 6

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

While this anecdote is funny, it is not a seriously useful suggestion. I recommend that anyone interested in English spelling reform consult his friendly, neighborhood Google and do some research. It's a fascinating topic with many possibilities but no real probabilities.

My personal conclusion is that you can't fix English orthography without making the result practically a different language and, even if you could, you won't get buy-in from enough people to do it by fiat. It must be an extremely slow iterative process prosecuted by a growing pool of interested individuals across a timeframe of generations, by which I mean that if we started today I think a majority of speakers could be using what is effectively a fully reformed system in 200 years, but it will be necessary for most people to remain familiar with current conventions for at least twice as long as that.

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Curious thing about that anecdote - if one reads it in a ~Latin way (as at least most European ~Latin script languages seem to be pronounced), even by somebody who doesn't know English, the result is quite... bearable. Certainly much more understandable than when the original EN orthography is read like that.

Well, OK, maybe it breaks down a bit in the last section ;)

Reply Score: 2

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Depending on who you ask English has between 41 and 47 distinct sounds. It is easily possible to represent this set within the confines of the glyphs from the English alphabet (which, I will remind you, is not the same as the Latin one!) Many proposals have been made for how this might be accomplished.

IPA is not a practical answer to written communication. It is concerned with how things sound, not what they mean. Forcing pronunciation in to the script is a bad idea from a practicality standpoint and just doesn't work long-term, as far as we can tell. You say təˈmeɪtoʊ, I say təˈmeɪtə, but we both read "tomato" and this is good.

Incidentally, here's my current pet idea for overloading 26 letters: exploit a convention people already know and treat "h" (and only "h") as special. Any character followed by h assumes an alternate pronunciation and otherwise is always pronounced the same way. Thus your short A can be "a" and your long A can be "ah," just as "t" is distinct from "th." "Bat" would remain the same but "father" would change slightly to "fahdher.". It's still necessary to add more vowel characters, of course.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by redshift
by redshift on Fri 15th Jun 2012 03:01 UTC
redshift
Member since:
2006-05-06

What is the percentage of Mac usage in third world countries? I am thinking it would be pretty low regardless of language support.

Reply Score: 5

Appalachian
by Wodenhelm on Fri 15th Jun 2012 05:56 UTC
Wodenhelm
Member since:
2010-07-16

Even when English gets various forms of dialect support, we'll never, EVER see support for the Appalachian dialect; despite there being millions of speakers. I think that social prejudice is as much of an issue as "poor markets".

Reply Score: 2

RE: Appalachian
by Morgan on Fri 15th Jun 2012 06:33 UTC in reply to "Appalachian"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Speaking as a native of the north Georgia mountains, which Appalachian dialect are you referring to? There are a couple of distinct ones just in my neck of the woods, and the further northeast you go the more you hear. My biological father was from the North Carolina mountains and his family's dialect was vastly different from what people speak here.

Reply Score: 2

OMG
by drstorm on Fri 15th Jun 2012 07:40 UTC
drstorm
Member since:
2009-04-24

WALL OF TEXT

Reply Score: 2

What about Windows?
by jal_ on Fri 15th Jun 2012 08:17 UTC
jal_
Member since:
2006-11-02

Very interesting article, but it only talks about Linux and Mac OS/OS X. What about Windows?

Reply Score: 2

Ghost of Steve Jobs
by MattPie on Fri 15th Jun 2012 15:57 UTC
MattPie
Member since:
2006-04-18

Just learn English, not a big deal.

Sent from my afterlife iPhone

(that's a joke, friends)

Reply Score: 3

Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Fri 15th Jun 2012 16:56 UTC
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

From what it appears the issue sounds more like one related to script support rather than language in and of itself - maybe the solution is to change the script. Recognise the the script was designed for an era of bamboo calligraphy and necessity demands a simpler, cleaner and more straight forward script without all the elaborate bullshit that exists today.

As for niche languages - I know in the case of New Zealand the government worked with Microsoft to get Maori supported on Microsoft Windows. Although it wasn't necessarily a simple operation it was made a heck of a lot easier by relying on the roman alphabet with a few modifications. It can be done, the question is whether there is the will power to do so and willingness to compromise when it comes to maybe designing an alphabet that is easier to represent on the computer.

Reply Score: 3

Interested In Technical Details
by Pro-Competition on Fri 15th Jun 2012 18:19 UTC
Pro-Competition
Member since:
2007-08-20

Thank you for this very interesting article!

I'm not digressing to explain what the technical difficulties are because (in my experience) the vast majority of people who aren't already engaged with these problems will be unwilling to read through an explanation of that kind.


Actually, this may not be true. I think this is a site where some of the readers would be interested in the technical details (including myself).

This is a subject that many of us (again including myself) have almost no knowledge of, even if we are interested, for the reasons you mentioned in the article.

Personally, I am very interested in preserving languages. This is a perfect example of a case where FOSS should shine - because there is very little financial incentive for commercial entities to support these languages.

Is there a (free) global information source on written languages? Or any promising projects that have begun work on this?

Reply Score: 2

That is not right.
by spiderman on Fri 15th Jun 2012 19:02 UTC
spiderman
Member since:
2008-10-23

I'm willing to help improve support for those languages.
Could you please provide some pointers to what have been done until now (you said there was incomplete support)?
Are there some (image) documents that explain the specifications of the language?
Please tell me what I can do to help.

Reply Score: 2

It will get worse...
by kloty on Fri 15th Jun 2012 21:20 UTC
kloty
Member since:
2005-07-07

just think about voice recognition systems like Siri. How many languages will be supported by such systems? I wrote an article on this topic http://technokloty.blogspot.de/2011/10/how-speech-recognition-endan...

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Bengar
by Bengar on Sat 16th Jun 2012 00:24 UTC
Bengar
Member since:
2009-07-30

Home computer ownership, even an old, well out of date desktop PCs is completely unaffordable, rare and out of reach for the majority of people in developing countries.

While there is a big and successful trade in offloading used and out of date mobile phones and motor vehicles from developed to developing countries. This does not seem to be the case for old computer equipment I am not sure why. Maybe it's not financially viable to ship the bulky equipment while keeping it in working order?

Reply Score: 1

Dwindling?
by steve_s on Sat 16th Jun 2012 10:42 UTC
steve_s
Member since:
2006-01-16

For an article that's purporting to talk about Mac OS X's "dwindling" support for different languages, I had expected to see some specific discussion about how the number of languages OS X supports has reduced. If that was in this article, I missed it.

I found just a single specific statement that says that Mac OS X supports 22 languages. That is incorrect. Mac OS X Lion and Mountain Lion both include translations for 30 languages. Technically, Mac OS X supports many more, since it lets users pick from about 140 different languages. For example an OS X user can set their preferred language to Tagalog and, whilst they won't see the OS itself in that language, if they run software that has included a Tagalog translation then that's what they'll see.

Mac OS X has supported Unicode encoding since it's inception, and is perfectly capable of rendering text encoded as utf-8 and utf-16, as well as supporting fonts including the full range of unicode glyphs. Indeed, the OS's font rendering system is smart enough to go looking for glyphs in different fonts should the currently selected font not include a glyph.

An additional major problem in dealing with alternate languages is support for input sources to match up with differing languages. This is a subject that the article doesn't discuss at all. Mac OS X includes support for dozens of different input methods, and this is user extensible.

From where I'm sitting, it looks like Mac OS X has excellent support for languages.

Anecdotal rants about how "many people found that they had to re-type documents" gives us no clue as to the truth of the situation. Were these people using unicode, or were they using older legacy encodings that had since got dropped? Why were their old documents rendered illegible? I have no idea.

I'm not saying the author is wrong, but if it's really the case that Mac OS X has stopped supporting some languages then it would have been useful to provide some clear examples saying "in Mac OS X 10.4, language X was supported, but was removed in 10.5". Instead this article seemed to be less about Mac OS X and more about attempting to encourage Ubuntu to improve it's language support.

Reply Score: 2

the reality...
by unclefester on Sun 17th Jun 2012 03:51 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

The reality is that the vast majority of people who use a rare language can also use a reasonably popular language eg every adult who speaks Scots Gaelic also speaks fluent English.

Around 80% of people in the world speak either Arabic, Spanish, Hindi-Urdu, English, Mandarin or Cantonese as their primary lanuage.

Reply Score: 2

RE: the reality...
by spiderman on Sun 17th Jun 2012 12:34 UTC in reply to "the reality..."
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

But that is because Scotland is an English colony, isn't it? Not all regions are English colonies.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: the reality...
by unclefester on Sun 17th Jun 2012 23:29 UTC in reply to "RE: the reality..."
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Scotland has never been an English colony. The majority of Scots supported England during the 1745 Rebellion and were in favour of forming the United kingdom.

Don't take your history from Braveheart(Mel Gibson hates the English). William Wallace was a French speaking Norman nobleman not a poor Scottish farmer.

Most Scots (like my ancestors) are of Scandinavian heritage - not Celts. The common language of Scotland has been Lallans (a form of Anglo-Saxon for almost 1500 years.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: the reality...
by zima on Tue 19th Jun 2012 16:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: the reality..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

So... he was of Scandinavian heritage too, right? ;)

PS. Is Highlander better?

Edited 2012-06-19 16:18 UTC

Reply Score: 2