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   RE: Foreign Names

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  • From: "Didier PH Martin" <martind@netfolder.com>
  • To: <donpark@docuverse.com>, <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Sun, 16 Apr 2000 11:24:59 -0400

Hi Don,

Don said:
1. Out of six billion people, how many millions know how to use
HTML which uses western alphabets for element types?  What were
the difficulties in teaching HTML to people whose native language
is not based on western alphabet?

Didier replies:
Some languages like HTML are somewhat related to English. People talking
other languages uses this language as is and this is a good thing. However,
I encountered many times during my career domain laguages encoded in foreign
languages. Both the data content and the elements, comments, attributes and
so forth where encoded in German, French, Japanese, Chinese, etc. The
creators of these languages created them for internal use of for usage
within their country. For instance, in the SGML world, a lot of documents -
in Japan - are encoded in Shift-JIS and the element, attributes, etc.. are
encoded in Japanese.

What we can say though is that some languages like HTML became very popular
and some other are used only within the boundaries of a corporation, an
institution or a country. I doubt that English speaking countries would
adopt a foreign language vocabulary but the probability is higher in Europe
where people are accustomed to several languages and where people often
speak more than one language. We should not forget that the new born
European federation or more particularly their common market, common
currency and their 300 million consumers could change our monolithic view of
the world.

Conclusion: The beauty of actual markup languages is that they allow the
creation of new languages in about any language. When you do some
international work - and speaking 4 languages I had to do a lot of that
:-) - you can notice - as I did for example in Germany (having to look at
some procedural language code produced there) - that the variable names are
often German names, that comments are also in German. In fact, everything
except the reserved keywords of the domain language. You can also notice
that if these people wrote their comments in German it is because they are
more comfortable to do so than with any other language. That they are using
foreign language keywords only because of the constraint of the compiler or
the interpreter (because of an obvious lack of sophistication of our
primitive tools) not because they choused to do so. I'll repeat the last
sentence to be sure that it is understood: They used domain laguages based
on foreign language keywords, not because they choused it or because they
are more confortable with, simply because the lack of sophistication of our
tools forced them to do so. They had to adapt to these tools instead of the
contrary. Bottom line.

Don said:
2. Are there any keyboards in the world that will not type ASCII?
I had to install new software and learned how to type Korean, but
all Korean keyboards allows you to type ASCII.

Didier replies:
OK what about Japanese and Chinese now. When you use a Chinese keyboard, it
is not so easy to switch from Chinese to ascii. But this is not the point.
The point is that a Chinese element can make more sense for Chinese people
than an English markup. It is already a fact that in Japan, we already have
SGML documents with markup elements encoded in Japanese. Have you ever
looked at a Japanese windows version? The menus are not in ascii as far as I
know and there are good reasons for it. Again, these people are using
English based procedural or functional languages not by choice but because
of a lack of sophistication of the tools not even being able to adapt to
these people.

I do not want to put more time on this thread since, I think it is obvious
that limiting the world to a single culture is a crime against humanity. I
also think that there is room for simplified versions of XML that use only
ASCII as there is room for more sophisticated tools that can adapt to humans
and not the contrary. As there is room for an XML sophisticated enough to
allow the creation of domain languages in about any language. Even better,
if we are smart enough to create tools that can provide mapping from a
language to an other, this is even better. In conclusion, I have nothing
against a simplified version of XML that only uses ASCII as long as XML
allows us more versatility and the usage of other languages as it is already
the case throughout the world. And no (this is for David) to choose their
native language to create domain language is not restricted to French
speaking people, I encountered documents having elements encoded in
Japanese, Chinese, German, Swedish, French and English. And imagine, this is
only the limited world a single individual could reach. I am convinced that
the reality is even more diverse than that. For sure, after having lived in
more than 7 countries and having to learn several language, all this helped
me to develop a different view of world :-)

Conclusion: There is even no question to ask here, yes you can create a
limited tool based on ASCII only. Can this tool be used by 1 billion Chinese
individuals? or 300 millions Europeans in, let's say 50 years from now? The
world as we know it will change as china and Europe will also change. Will
we get a homogeneous English speaking world then? I doubt. Maybe our
children are better to learn Chinese ;-)

Didier PH Martin
Email: martind@netfolder.com
Conferences: XML Europe (http://www.gca.org)
Book: XML Professional (http://www.wrox.com)
column: Style Matters (http://www.xml.com)
Products: http://www.netfolder.com

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