Re: ASCII - WOOPS my ref. dropped out...
> A couple of things. First of all, the
> most spoken language is not English.
> It's Mandarin (Chinese). There is
> obviously a place for non-ASCII
> character encodings.
Mandarin Chinese may have the largest number of persons who speak it as their first language, however, It is debatable as to whether Chinese is the "most used" language in the world.
As a reasonably well-traveled individual, I never cease to be amazed at the number of countries I have visited where English (many times with an accent) is available to the locals - and that applies to the Middle East, South Asia, Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, the Phillipines, Holland, Scandinavia, parts of Africa, and other places. And in none of these locations would English be classified as the "native" tongue. Yet in some, it is preferred
to the local language(s) or dialect(s) because of its universality.
In the computer software discipline, the employment of English (or a language with primitive elements derived from English/Romance words, such as Fortran, Pascal, Ada, C, C++, and so on) is pronounced. I know of no computer programming language wherein the base language (spoken or written) is Mandarin Chinese. Indeed, I believe that the Chinese Idiogrammatic language forms would prove difficult to use as the
basic "alphabet" or symbology of a computer programming
My experience is that even the Japanese, who type into word processors and personal computers, use an anglicization/romanization at the keyboard called "romaji" to enter the sounds of the Japanese language, which are then converted to Katakana/Hiragana, and/or Kanji, for output to the display. I have done it while in Japan, but it isn't easy for one whose Japanese is limited. However, it is second nature to PC-aware Japanese (and they are becoming intensely PC-aware).
Although I have long since forgotten the details, I remember reading perhaps 40 years ago about an English person who invented a romanization system for the Chinese a long time ago, which sounded similar to the Japanese method of getting from
Romaji to Kanji. IIRC, he did it to help little children learn sounds of the language, and enable them to bridge to the concepts in the ideograms. BTW, the Chinese ideograms,
while extremely similar to the ones used in Japan, and may have similar meanings, rarely have even remotely similar pronunciation. So, a Japanese person can probably get the gist of a written Chinese ideogram, but would have to know (one of) the Chinese dialects to be able to verbalize the ideogram.
I guess the point of this is that even in the Orient, where the idiogram reigns supreme with some of the literati and illuminati, they are forced to revert to the primitive 26-character English alphabet to enter computer input. So, when you think about i18n, I suggest thinking about the input issues as well as the output(display) issues, and I suggest that there are basic communication issues to be addressed - not just between peoples, but also between the human and the machine. For
example, in Japan, romaji, and the English language is universally taught as a second language, and has been for a great many decades. It is necessary, since romaji is taken as a given.