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[3]: What is the problem?
by sorpigal on Fri 15th Jun 2012 12:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What is the problem?"
sorpigal
Member since:
2005-11-02

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.

Your understanding is simplistic. Try representing all cursive script in 255 bytes. Quiz: How many different ways are there to write "g"? What about "q"? Do you realize that the answer for "q" will be *at least eight*?

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.

That depends highly on your definition of "the same."

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.

Do they still teach handwriting?

Write the following words in english long hand:

grotesque
Grotesque
Quiche
Petunia

How many *distinct* glyphs do you see?

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: What is the problem?
by jburnett on Fri 15th Jun 2012 14:33 in reply to "RE[3]: What is the problem?"
jburnett Member since:
2012-03-29

Your understanding is simplistic. Try representing all cursive script in 255 bytes. Quiz: How many different ways are there to write "g"? What about "q"? Do you realize that the answer for "q" will be *at least eight*?

Yes, but you can use any of those representations for 'q' and people will know it is the same letter. The original post made it sound like slightly altering the rendering changed the meaning. Thus, when the letter was changed by a new OS rendering engine, it was "unreadable."

Do they still teach handwriting?

Write the following words in english long hand:

grotesque
Grotesque
Quiche
Petunia

How many *distinct* glyphs do you see?

I learned handwriting in two forms, print and cursive. Print I still use heavily, though I blend it with cursive a bit when scribbling notes really fast. Do I expect some vendor to support my personal script, no. Do they support a language almost identical and fully readable, yes. Heck, I don't even like my script, I just cannot hand write as cleanly and quickly as a computer can render.

This discussion isn't about writing words to look pretty or conform to some sense of artistic style. It is about being able to render a language so that it can be written/read by somebody who knows the language.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: What is the problem?
by sorpigal on Fri 15th Jun 2012 14:43 in reply to "RE[4]: What is the problem?"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Yes, but you can use any of those representations for 'q' and people will know it is the same letter.

This happens to work in English.

The original post made it sound like slightly altering the rendering changed the meaning.

Exactly, in some languages it does. Imagine if software were to slightly alter each 'e' into 'c', which after all looks quite close. Imagine the confusion if this sort of error were common.

My attempt was to get you to understand by using a familiar analogy. Consider the difficulty of describing how to form the various glyphs, and the large number of such glyphs, needed for English cursive writing.

Do I expect some vendor to support my personal script, no. Do they support a language almost identical and fully readable, yes. Heck, I don't even like my script, I just cannot hand write as cleanly and quickly as a computer can render.

Your personal way of rendering the letters when you write, your style if you will, is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the glyphs you use, or anyone uses, when writing cursive script. In order for a computer to represent cursive script it must know about all of the variations that we all use as a natural part of cursive writing. This is important as an aid to your understanding of the problem: Some languages do not have a non-cursive form and may in fact load grammatically critical information in to the bits and pieces between letters.

This discussion isn't about writing words to look pretty or conform to some sense of artistic style. It is about being able to render a language so that it can be written/read by somebody who knows the language.

Yes it is, and I kept my comments firmly on that footing. I am not talking about stylistic variations, although it should be noted that these ought to be supported. If that's what you took from my comments you're harder to reach than I thought.

Edited 2012-06-15 14:45 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: What is the problem?
by westlake on Fri 15th Jun 2012 20:23 in reply to "RE[4]: What is the problem?"
westlake Member since:
2010-01-07

This discussion isn't about writing words to look pretty or conform to some sense of artistic style. It is about being able to render a language so that it can be written/read by somebody who knows the language.


But someone who knows the language and culture will care about appearance and style.

That is, after all, what made the Mac the platform of choice for what would become known as desktop publishing.

Reply Parent Score: 2