FYI: Multilingual Encoding

Richard L. Goerwitz (
Thu, 29 Sep 1994 19:33:56 +0100

>UTF-8 (wchar_t = UCS-2).... We are currently able to input and display
>using the standard Motif 1.2 with our localization for:

This doesn't make sense to me, but then that may just be me. The issues
of localization and multilingualism are distinct. The above paragraph,
though, seems to combine them.

Let me avoid abstraction by giving a concrete example. Suppose we want
a) a multilingual client and b) to use it in Germany. To fulfull b, we
might well localize for Germany. Surely users will want all of the mes-
sages to come up in German, and this is what i18n was designed to help
designers do. This, however, does *not* mean that users will only want
to view German text via the Web. Although their basic interface is in
German, they might well stumble onto an important Bengali or Swahili
information source, and want to read it. The bottom line is that the
user still wants the German localization. But he or she nevertheless
wants multilingual facilities as well.

So to repeat, localization and multi-language interfaces are not incom-
patible. Hence my confusion over why anyone would want to achive multi-
lingualism by broadening localization to include a UNIVERSAL locale.
Seems to be self-defeating.

But of course, as I keep emphasizing, I'm a Humanities person, and new
here. I may misunderstand.

Richard Goerwitz