Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Jun 2014 15:37 UTC
Features, Office

Way back in 2009, I wrote about a few specific cases in which computers led to (subtle) changes in the Dutch language. While the changes highlighted in that article were subtle and not particularly substantial, there are cases around the world where computing threatens much more than a few subtle, barely noticeable features of a language.

This article is a bit too politicised for my taste, but if you set that aside and focus on its linguistic and technological aspects, it's quite, quite fascinating.

Urdu is traditionally written in a Perso-Arabic script called nastaliq, a flowy and ornate and hanging script. But when rendered on the web and on smartphones and the entire gamut of digital devices at our disposal, Urdu is getting depicted in naskh, an angular and rather stodgy script that comes from Arabic. And those that don’t like it can go write in Western letters.

It'd be fantastic if Microsoft, Google, and Apple could include proper support for nastaliq into their products. It's one thing to see Dutch embrace a new method of displaying direct quotes under the influences of computers, but to see an entire form of script threatened is another.

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sakeniwefu
Member since:
2008-02-26

You are right.
The only thing you could blame the companies for would be not refusing to implement the Unicode standard, deriding it in public and coming up with a sane alternative.
The Unicode standard is inconsistent and awful design through and through.
Combined and pre-combined glyphs, random width glyphs, random CJK unification(not that consistent unification would be any better), backward-compatiblility exact duplicates, emoji, UTF-16, control characters and who knows what else.
The only part of Unicode that deserves salvaging would be the UTF-8 encoding, and even that has been infected by other sections of the standard.
Sadly, Unicode does fulfill most companies and developers' needs most of the time. Some very influential people need to be very pissed for anything to change for the better.

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