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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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.

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