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

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