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]: this is how languages die
by zima on Fri 15th Jun 2012 23:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: this is how languages die"
zima
Member since:
2005-07-06

I see, you managed to miss how that wasn't an example, but an analogy, and not about computers ability to display them...

And I have perhaps even more telling one: Blackletter (Gothic) script, used in Germany well into XX century (I have some books in it after grandfather), just more or less Latin alphabet - but hardly readable to somebody not used to it.
Sure, it easily works properly with computers ...which doesn't change its relative ineligibility, its potential alienating qualities (if somebody would, say, switch just the fonts - not even the language - to Blackletter at your computer)

Edited 2012-06-15 23:05 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

Blackletter script doesn't work well on computers because the font sizes would need to be enormous to be legible at current DPI. Maybe this new trend of >200 DPI screens will fix that.

Reply Parent Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Blackletter doesn't work well, isn't very legible anywhere, also in print - why it was abandoned, and why I mentioned it as one more analogy to experience/imagine possible exclusionary qualities of alien scripts (like Latin ones are for tons of people)

Edited 2012-06-16 15:06 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

mrstep Member since:
2009-07-18

Well you were the one calling it an example in your previous post. ;)

In any case, I'm sure there are many fantastic reasons to keep around all of the thousands of languages that were spawned because of the inability of people to cover meaningful geographic distances quickly, but there are probably more reasons supporting people being able to understand each other instead.

For "analogy" (I kid...), if you post in some Khmer dialect here, you're unlikely to get many responses. It's not only not much of a market for OS vendors, it's limiting in terms of your own economic opportunities. So it goes.

Reply Parent Score: 1

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

That was more a common EN figure of speech (used by somebody for whom it's a 3rd language, so less flexibility); or, at most, an example by analogy - not a simple direct one, like it was (a bit rudely) dismissed by the other poster.

Anyway, yes, efforts to improve communication and mutual understanding between people are great - but the point is, the initial tools meant to facilitate them better be in the language and script those people are fluent in. Otherwise, the results might be mixed...
(an example: once, for less than two months, I shared the dorm room with somebody who came from a far - and of course, to study, he should first learn the local language; there were no lessons in his native one, so he opted - before coming here, I presume - to attend Polish lessons for EN speakers; the thing is, he basically only pretended he has a grasp of EN in the first place; suffice to say... two months)

BTW, I think "spawned because of the inability of people to cover meaningful geographic distances quickly" does not cover it fully. Not only it's easy to find places where closely neighbouring (even "packed" on quite small area) languages and scripts aren't mutually intelligible. But also, for centuries at my place, it wasn't even "neighbouring" but more like "intertwined" - people tend to self-segregate, it seems.

Reply Parent Score: 2