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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Depending on who you ask English has between 41 and 47 distinct sounds. It is easily possible to represent this set within the confines of the glyphs from the English alphabet (which, I will remind you, is not the same as the Latin one!) Many proposals have been made for how this might be accomplished.

IPA is not a practical answer to written communication. It is concerned with how things sound, not what they mean. Forcing pronunciation in to the script is a bad idea from a practicality standpoint and just doesn't work long-term, as far as we can tell. You say təˈmeɪtoʊ, I say təˈmeɪtə, but we both read "tomato" and this is good.

Incidentally, here's my current pet idea for overloading 26 letters: exploit a convention people already know and treat "h" (and only "h") as special. Any character followed by h assumes an alternate pronunciation and otherwise is always pronounced the same way. Thus your short A can be "a" and your long A can be "ah," just as "t" is distinct from "th." "Bat" would remain the same but "father" would change slightly to "fahdher.". It's still necessary to add more vowel characters, of course.

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