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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If it's not on the keyboard
by TasnuArakun on Tue 27th Oct 2009 11:44 UTC
TasnuArakun
Member since:
2009-05-24

Ah, keyboard layouts and character encodings, one of my favorite topics. ;)

Here in Sweden we have it quite easy since straight quotes are perfectly fine. When we use curved quotes only the right high ones are used (”like this”). Of course, word processors would change straight quotes into curly automatically if you told it to. However in the past they were often hardcoded for english and would change the opening quotes into the left curled ones.

I'm a Mac user and I happen to know that on my Swedish keyboard I can type “, ” or „ by holding shift+alt and then type n, m or comma. But to most people, if it's not (visible) on the keyboard, it doesn't exist. I had a Spanish teacher that would add all the ¡, ¿ and ~ by hand to her printed texts since she didn't know and didn't bother to find out how to type them on her computer. When I studied some Chinese a few years later I remember we were given a special pinyin font that replaced ä, â, ë, ê… with the proper ā, ǎ, ē, ě… . *Brr*, such solutions make me shudder. A hint to those who deals a lot with foreign languages: check out the extended keyboards which contain most of the diacritics you'll ever need plus a ton of other symbols.

Another thing that's been influenced by enlgish and computers is the use of the decimal point versus the decimal comma (and subsequently whether to use commas or spaces as thousands separators). The decimal comma is used in all of Europe (except the UK). However many computer programs expect the input to be using a point. This has led to some younger people (at least that's what I've seen here in Sweden) having started to use the decimal point in other contexts as well and even stating that they prefer it.

Reply Score: 1

james_parker Member since:
2005-06-29


Another thing that's been influenced by english and computers is the use of the decimal point versus the decimal comma (and subsequently whether to use commas or spaces as thousands separators). The decimal comma is used in all of Europe (except the UK). However many computer programs expect the input to be using a point. This has led to some younger people (at least that's what I've seen here in Sweden) having started to use the decimal point in other contexts as well and even stating that they prefer it.


Are there any standards, or barring that, reliable guides (preferably in English) as to what the various sets of rules are regarding the separation of digits? I inherited some software that has both "." for fractional separation and "," for digit grouping hard coded, and I would like to ensure that the correct form can be used globally. Our case is complicated because we have cases where we need to parse the local form to convert back to an internally numeric form as well.

Reply Parent Score: 1

akavel Member since:
2009-10-27

That won't be exactly a response to your question, but I've once had issues with that - and then I stumbled into an article, which surprised me even more. It mentions that there are some countries where digit grouping is not done in groups of three at all!...

see: http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2006/04/17/577483.aspx

Reply Parent Score: 1