Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Oct 2009 00:37 UTC
Features, Office In the comments on our editorial about language purism and the Psystar case, it became quite clear that language is a subject almost everyone has an opinion on - not odd if you consider that language is at the very centre of what makes us "human". Since this appears to be a popular subject, let's talk about the influence computing has had on two very minor aspects of the Dutch language.
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by torbenm on Tue 27th Oct 2009 09:26 UTC
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In Danish, the official way to quote is to use the "geese eyes" characters, such as: Henrik siger »Goddag«. Note that this is the inverse of the French quotation marks, such as in «Bonjour».

These are not available on a Danish keyboard either, so we also here see the use of English-style quotation.

Microsoft Word has also made another, more serious change to the Danish language: In Denmark, we often join words, such as »morgenbrød« meaning "morning bread". The spell checker in Word can, however, not handle general word joining, so only the most common combinations have been added as explicit cases to the dictionary. The result is that, when someone writes a word correctly joined, Word complains about the spelling, but removes the complaint when you (incorrectly) separate the word. Hence, you everywhere now see words written separately that should rightly be joined.

Thankfully, our "special" letters Æ, Ø and Å are found on modern Danish keyboards, but before the ISO 8851-1 standard, there was no standard encoding of these letters in the ASCII character set, so you found nonstandard solutions such as replacing [\] by ÆØÅ (and {|} by æøå), which placed them right after Z/z (as they are in the Danish alphabet), so sorting would work. When the IBM PC came to Denmark, it used some of the characters in the 128-255 range for the Danish letters, but not the same that was later used in the ISO 8851-1 standard. So converting documents using the Danish letters between formats was always tricky (and still is, if one part uses ISO 8851-1 and the other UTF8).

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